Even in a year when the unimaginable seems to have become routine, the prospect of Joe Flacco overtaking Joe Montana in the NFL’s all-time rankings seems incomprehensible.
And yet that’s exactly what happened Monday night when the New York Jets’ back-up quarterback surpassed the Hall of Famer’s 40,551 career pass yards and climbed into the top 20 of most pass yards in NFL history.
Flacco’s 50-yard finish against Breshad Perriman in the first quarter of the Jets’ 30-27 defeat of the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football catapulted him past Montana, a remarkable achievement for a player who has shared the same opinion throughout his 13 seasons in the league.
Flacco was named Super Bowl XLVII MVP after leading the Baltimore Ravens to their second Super Bowl title, but it is unlikely he can ever be compared to Montana, a four-time Super Bowl champion, eight-time pro bowler and two-time league MVP.
Flacco ranks eighth on the list of active quarterbacks of all time along with Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
With his 50-yard touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman, Joe Flacco passed Joe Montana (40,551) on the list of all-time passing yards.
Flacco has now thrown the 20 most passing yards in NFL history.
– NFL Research (@NFL Research) November 10, 2020
The fact that all eight are in the top 20 on the list of all time speaks volumes about how the NFL has changed over the last two decades from a run-heavy approach to a much more fit-oriented approach.
At the same time, a skilled passer does not necessarily mean success, and Flacco is one of only ten quarterbacks in the top 20 of all time in terms of passing yards to win a Super Bowl.
The 35-year-old rolled back the years when the Jets came tantalizingly close to their first win of the season, only to lose to the Patriots by a field goal in the preliminary round.
With Sam Darnold still struggling with a shoulder injury, Flacco started for the third consecutive season, scoring 18 of his 25 passes for 262 touchdowns, three touchdowns and one interception for a 128.7-pass score.
With his three touchdown passes on Monday night, the 18th overall pick of the 2008 draft was only the second player after Peyton Manning, who threw a combined total of three touchdown passes against the Patriots four times in the regular season and playoffs.
By Monday night, the Jets had only scored more than 20 points once this season, but Flacco seemed to finally breathe life into his team’s moribund offense.
The seasoned quarterback threw two touchdown passes in the first half, when the Jets took a 20:10 lead at halftime and entered the final phase with a 27:17 lead. In the first three quarters, Flacco had played 17 of 22 passes for 254 pass yards and three pass touchdowns, giving an almost perfect score of 154.2 passes.
To put his influence into context: The Jets recently had more than one pass touchdown in the same game in a defeat to the Ravens in week 15 of last season, while two of Flacco’s touchdown passes were scored in the first half alone.
But it was all in vain when the Patriots equalized a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter and, thanks to Nick Folk’s 51-yard field goal in front of the siren, cut a four-time losing streak to 3-5, while the Jets slumped to 9-0.