You had a long day at work. The phone wouldn’t stop ringing, the water cooler was malfunctioning, and a co-worker left his world-famous “tuna fish, onion and hot sauce sandwich” in the refrigerator for far too long. When the day ended, you just wanted to get home, pop open a beer and play video games without thinking too hard. So you inserted Madden, set the difficulty to “rookie” and threw deep bomb after deep bomb with Drew Brees. Six hundred yards and 10 touchdowns later, you were beaming from ear to ear.
Although no NFL quarterback has ever thrown for that kind of “video game” statline, you might be surprised by how many have come close. Eli Manning threw for 500 yards earlier this season. Tom Brady has thrown for six touchdowns in a game on several occasions. And if you look to college football, Geno Smith’s performance against Baylor this season could seemingly be replicated only by a controller. STACK takes a look at Smith and nine other athletes who put up real numbers so outrageous, you couldn’t match them in the virtual world no matter how hard you tried.
Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia)
(Photo via Bleacher Report)
Stat line: 45-61, 656 yards and 8 TDs vs. Baylor (9/29/2012)
West Virginia QB Geno Smith was already having a Heisman-like year through the first three games of the 2012 season. He had passed for 323 yards against Marshall in Week One, 411 yards and five touchdowns the next week and 338 more in Week Three against Maryland. Then Week Four happened. In a 70-63 shootout victory over Baylor, Smith put up numbers that make you pause live TV just to stare at them. His 656 yards through the air allowed two of his receivers to compile more than 200 yards apiece, the first time that has been achieved since 2007. Smith’s eight touchdowns tied a Big 12 record, and he led the Mountaineers to 807 yards of total offense. Thanks for playing, Baylor.
Kobe Bryant (Guard, Los Angeles Lakers)
(Photo via Forum Blue & Gold)
Stat line: 28-46 shooting, 81 points vs. Toronto Raptors (1/22/2006)
We could talk about Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game, but that was 50 years ago. The game was different. Kobe dropped 81 points, including 28 in the fourth quarter, while surrounded by a lineup featuring the likes of Smush Parker, Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm. Chris Mihm! In other words, it was one on five, and Kobe still managed to score 66% of his team’s points. Defense may not have been a priority in Canada, but Kobe’s game ascended to a stratospheric level that night.
“He was ticked off,” Lamar Odom said after the game. Perhaps Kobe had a beef with the Canadian edition of SportsCenter leading off with hockey every night. Or maybe Jalen Rose started the game with an especially effective insult. Whatever it was, Bryant put on a show for the ages.
Tom Brady (QB, New England Patriots)
(Photo via SI Kids)
Stat line: 32-48, 517 yards passing, 4 TDs against the Miami Dolphins (9/11/2011)
Tom Brady has done incredible things in his career. He’s won Super Bowls, married a supermodel and made it acceptable for men to wear UGGs. But his greatest individual accomplishment might have come on a humid night in Miami in 2011, when, steaming after throwing a rare interception, Brady went into full beast mode on Monday Night Football, proceeding to shred the Dolphins defense with an aerial assault that included a 99-yard touchdown to Wes Welker and a 31-yarder to tight end Aaron Hernandez. When it was over, the Patriots had marched the length of the football field six times, setting a franchise record with 622 yards of total offense. Brady is just one of 13 quarterbacks to have thrown for 500 yards or more in a game.
Calvin Johnson (WR, Detroit Lions)
(Photo via Fantasy Knuckleheads)
Stat line (during a four-week stretch in 2011-2012): 214 yards, 2 TDs vs. Oakland (12/18/11); 102 yards, TD vs. San Diego (12/24/11); 244 yards, TD vs. Green Bay (1/1/12); and 211 yards, 2 TDs vs. New Orleans (1/7/12)
Megatron more than earned his moniker during this surreal stretch at the end of the 2011 season, during which he went for over 200 yards in three out of four games. Johnson outran, outjumped and outmuscled any cornerback who shadowed him, turning the last weeks of the season into his own personal game of Jackpot. His final performance was a 211-yard, two-touchdown effort in the first round of the playoffs against the Saints.
David Klingler (QB, University of Houston)
(Photo via NCAA)
Stat line (during the 1990 season): 5,140 yards passing, 54 touchdowns, 146.8 QBR
We could single out Klingler’s laughable 716-yard passing game against Arizona State, or his preposterous 11-touchdown game against Eastern Washington. But Klingler’s entire 1990 season reads like a typo. Throwing for more than 5,000 yards and 54 touchdowns against D-I competition is like Wile E. Coyote catching the Road Runner. It just shouldn’t happen. Klingler’s 54 touchdowns set an NCAA record that stood until Hawaii’s Colt Brennan threw for 58 in 2006. Although Brennan threw for more yards and more touchdowns that year, he never came close to throwing 716 yards or 11 touchdowns in a single game.
LaDainian Tomlinson (RB, TCU)
(Photo via No 2 Minute Warning)
Stat line: 406 yards rushing, 6 TDs vs. UTEP (11/20/1999)
Think about this. Rushing for 400 yards is the equivalent of running the length of a football field four times. Tomlinson did that, by himself, in a 60-minute football game against UTEP. He also accounted for 36 points by pushing himself into the end zone six times. What a day!
Troy Edwards (WR, Louisiana Tech)
(Photo via Biletnikoff Award)
Stat line: 21 catches, 405 yards receiving, 3 TDs vs. Nebraska (8/29/1998)
Who is Troy Edwards, you ask? Well, in Lousiana Tech’s opening game of the 1998 season, Edwards hauled in a ridiculous 405 yards against perennial college powerhouse Nebraska. Yet his three TD catches of 94, 80 and 52 yards were somehow not enough, as Nebraska ended up winning the game easily, 56-27.
Kerry Wood (Pitcher, Chicago Cubs)
(Photo via Deadspin)
Stat line: 122 pitches, 1 hit, 0 runs, 20 strikeouts vs. Houston Astros (5/6/1998)
On his fifth start as a Major League pitcher, Kerry Wood devastated the Houston Astros lineup with 20 Ks in seven innings, a single third strike away from fanning every batter he had faced to that point. His fastball whistled by in the upper-90s and his breaking ball rendered the Astros motionless. Giving up just one hit, Wood turned in a performance that people still recall in almost perfect detail 14 years later.
Josh Hamilton (RF, Texas Rangers)
(Photo via Bloomberg)
Stat line: 5-5, 4 home runs, 8 RBIs vs. Baltimore Orioles (5/8/2012)
In a monster performance earlier this season, Hamilton became just the 16th person in MLB history to hit four home runs in a game. All four were two-run shots. Just to be hateful, Hamilton added a double for a perfect five-for-five day at the plate. He raised his batting average at the time to an obscene .406.
Normie Smith (Goaltender, Detroit Red Wings)
(Photo via FanBase)
Stat line: 92 saves, 0 goals allowed vs. Montreal Maroons (4/7/1936)
Yes, it was 1936. And yes, that was 76 years ago. But absorbing 92 shots without letting a single puck trickle into the net is downright legendary. Even more impressive is the fact that Smith took those 92 shots without wearing a mask, and the dude’s face remained intact. Smith’s heroics propelled the Red Wings into the NHL Finals, where they took down the Toronto Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup.