A Record-Breaking Game

On December 9, 1973, the Atlanta Falcons played the St. Louis Cardinals in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Falcons quarterback Bob Lee and Cardinals quarterback Gary Keithley ended the game with 0.00 passer ratings. This is the only NFL game in history where BOTH quarterbacks ended with a “perfectly bad” rating. Lee went 3 of 16 for 27 yards with two interceptions; Keithley went 2 of 10 for 9 yards with one pick. Both teams had five fumbles, although St. Louis only lost 1 while the Falcons lost 3.

The Cardinals won 32-10.

UPDATE: For those of you who don’t follow NFL football, quarterbacks are the “field generals” of the game. They read the defense and arrange players like chess pieces, then decide whether to: hand the ball off to a running back, who tries to carry the ball downfield before getting tackled; or to throw it to a receiver, who can be as far downfield as the quarterback can throw; or keep the ball and run himself. Or, he can chose to simply “throw the ball away” if there’s no one to throw it to.

So here’s the thing: quarterbacks are given a rating based on several factors: pass attempts, completions, passing yards, touchdowns passes and interceptions.

A perfect score is 158.3 (weird, I know).

If either team’s quarterback had simply thrown every football at the closest beer vendor in the stands every single time the entire game, they would have ended up with a 39.9 rating (I think – someone please check my math). To get all the way to a zero rating, you have to throw the ball to the other team almost as much as your own team. That is, to be especially awful.

For two professional quarterbacks to end up with zero ratings – when playing each other! – is extremely rare. Which is why I wrote this!

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