Most baseball players can tell you every detail about their first home run in the majors. From the name of the pitcher to the count, to where the ball landed, such memories are ingrained in the soul of every player who toiled in the majors. David Blough was thrust into the role of starting quarterback for the Detroit Lions during the 2019 season, and it didn’t take him long to create a memorable career highlight.
Infamous firsts in the NFL
In the NFL, however, the specifics about most firsts — such as first run from scrimmage — are a bit sketchier. That is unless you are a quarterback whose life ambition was to throw a touchdown pass in the pros. And, if you are someone like Green Bay Packer Hall of Famer Brett Favre or Bucs signal-caller Jameis Winston, that first NFL pass is something you’d like to forget.
While not commonly known by the everyday fan, Favre was originally drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the second round of the 1991 NL Draft. Favre’s selection did not please Falcons head coach Jerry Glanville whose lack of faith in the former Southern Miss star was proven valid. Redskins linebacker Andre Collins intercepted Favre’s first pass in a regular-season game and returned it for a TD. That poor showing led Atlanta to trade Favre to Green Bay for a first-round draft pick.
Brett Favre’s first NFL pass with the Packers was a completion — to himself. After being given a chance to play with the Packers in 1992, Favre was chased by a group of Tampa Bay with defensive lineman Ray Seals batting down the QB’s pass, which wound up back in Brett’s hands. The team lost five yards on the play.
Jameis Winston’s fate was first worse with his first pass. In 2016, the Bucs QB’s first start of the regular season was against the Tennessee Titans and fellow rookie, Marcus Mariota. In a 42-14 loss, Winston, a former Heisman Trophy winner, threw a pick-six interception on his first pass of the game. Tennessee cornerback Coty Sensabaugh was the lucky DB who took advantage of Winston’s inexperience.
A Thanksgiving wish comes true
Detroit Lions rookie quarterback David Blough entered the NFL record book with a first pass in the NFL regular season in a far more successful fashion that Favre or Winston. On the Lions’ annual 2019 Turkey Day matchup against the Chicago Bears, Blough connected with wide receiver Kenny Galloway on a 75-yard strike against DB Prince Amukamara.
For Blough, the start on national TV and entry into the NFL record book was the end of an improbable journey. Lightly recruited out of a Dallas-area high school, Blough followed another Texan, Drew Brees, into playing at Purdue University. After a redshirt 2014 season, Blough was named the starter for the Boilermakers, and over his four years, the team put up a less-than-spectacular 13-23 record. While career marks at Purdue were nothing special, Blough picked things up in his senior year when he threw for 3.500 yards and a 25-8 TD to interception rate.
Blough was not taken in the 2019 NFL draft but was signed by the Cleveland Browns as an undrafted free agent. There was no spot on the Browns roster long term for Blough, so he was traded to Detroit for a seventh-round draft pick. Add in injuries to starter Matthew Stafford and backup Jeff Driskel, and in typical next-man-standing fashion, Blough took the helm for the Nov. 28 game and a trip to the NFL record book.
While throwing a touchdown pass for your first NFL pass is a rare fete, Blough is not the first to accomplish this rarity.
Ryan and Bishop unleash first pass scores
As unlikely as it might seam, David Blough wasn’t the first NFL quarterback to toss a touchdown on his first pass. Some 11 years earlier, Atlanta Falcons rookie quarterback Matt Ryan, the third pick in that year’s draft, was the second player in NFL history to throw for a score on his first regular-season pass. On the third play of a game against the Detroit Lions, Ryan hit star wide receiver Michael Jenkins for a 62-yard score.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, New England Patriots Michael Bishop was the first quarterback in the past 60 years to throw for a score with his first NFL pass. In October 2000, Bishop threw a 44-yard bomb to wideout Tony Simmons as the first half ended. It’s worth noting that 2000 was Bill Belichick’s first year as the Pats head coach as well as the year in which the team selected Tom Brady on the sixth round of the draft.