The Most Unbreakable Records in the NFL

Plenty of attention is given to Tom Brady for moving up to third place on the NFL’s all-time regular-season passing yards list. Drew Brees and Peyton Manning still hold the first and second spots. (Brees passed Manning in 2018, so he hasn’t held the record for very long.) Unlike those numbers, the following NFL records will likely remain unbroken.

Sacks in one game: Derrick Thomas

The Kansas City Chiefs linebacker set the record of seven sacks in one game on November 11, 1990, when he sacked quarterback Dave Krieg of the Seattle Seahawks. For 29 years now, Derrick Thomas’s record has stood.

Sacks have only been an official NFL statistic since 1982. Regardless, only four players have six sacks, including Thomas himself again in 1998. The most recent was the Atlanta Falcons’ Adrian Clayborn against the Dallas Cowboys in 2017.

Consecutive starts by a quarterback: Brett Favre

Brett Favre holds the record of 297 consecutive games started by a quarterback during the regular season. He became the record holder in 1999 with 117 games started. The streak began in 1992, and it ended with an injury in 2010. During this time, Favre played for the Green Bay Packers, New York Jets, and Minnesota Vikings.

The runner up is Philip Rivers, who’s currently in the middle of a 212-game streak that began in 2006. However, 85 games short of the record, he’ll need to keep going for more than five more seasons.

Losses in one season: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs lost 26 straight games during the 1976 and 1977 seasons, which were also the first seasons for this expansion team. Before finding a spot in Tampa Bay, players had been cut by the Canadian League and former World Football League.

Teams are more evenly balanced today due to free agency and the salary cap, so we won’t likely see a team this bad again. Before the NFL and AFL merger in 1970, the Chicago Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) had a worse losing streak of 29 games from 1942 to 1945.

Points in one quarter: Don Hutson

Considered one of the greatest wide receivers of all time, Don Hutson scored 29 points for the Green Bay Packers in the second quarter on October 7, 1945. The Packers beat the Detroit Lions 57–21. Hutson, in his final season at age 32, contributed four touchdowns and kicked five extra points.

In an interview, he said, “It all happened because of the wind.” Hutson kicked two extra points in the second half but didn’t otherwise play. That meant he didn’t have a chance to beat the single-game scoring record, which is 40 points by Ernie Nevers of the Duluth Eskimos in 1929.

Career rushing yards: Emmitt Smith

During 15 seasons from 1990 to 2004, Emmitt Smith rushed for 18,355 yards with the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals. That includes 1,000 or more yards in 11 seasons. On October 27, 2002, Smith passed the previous record holder, Walter Payton, who still ranks second with 16,726 career rushing yards.

Smith also holds NFL records for career rushing touchdowns (164) and career rushing attempts (4,409). Including Barry Sanders, only three players have ever passed the 15,000-yard mark. As the NFL shifted to more of a passing game, fewer running backs get the chance to put up these kinds of numbers.

Coaching victories: Don Shula

Earned over 33 years (1963 to 1995), Coach Don Shula holds the record of 347 coaching victories with the Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins. Of those wins, 328 were in the regular season and 19 were in the playoffs. He also won the Super Bowl twice with Miami and once with an undefeated season (1972).

Shula coached the most games (509), more even than George Halas did in 40 years. Bill Belichick is the only active coach within striking distance. So far, he’s coached for 25 years and has 297 wins. While Shula’s total has stood for 24 years, Belichick needs 50 more wins. With coaching changes on average every 4.3 seasons, it’s rare for a coach and team to combine for so many wins over that many years.