The NFL’s official statistic for quantifying passing efficiency is passer rating, which considers completion percentage, yards per pass, touchdowns and interceptions. Passer rating is far from a perfect stat, but at a glance it provides a good look at how efficient a quarterback is.
And Patrick Mahomes is the NFL’s all-time leader, both in the regular season and in the postseason.
To qualify for the regular season record, a quarterback must have thrown 1,500 career passes. Mahomes topped that mark in the 2020 season and now has thrown 1,687 passes in his career. He has a career passer rating of 108.7, topping Deshaun Watson‘s 104.5, Aaron Rodgers‘ 103.9, Russell Wilson‘s 101.7 and Drew Brees‘s 98.7.
It’s noteworthy that everyone in the Top 5 was active during the 2020 NFL season. Quarterbacks are much more efficient now than they used to be, and that’s one of the flaws with passer rating: It doesn’t adjust for era, so it’s always going to favor the modern passers.
But that’s what makes Mahomes breaking the postseason record so noteworthy. Mahomes has a career postseason passer rating of 106.6, and when Mahomes reached the minimum of 150 postseason passes to qualify, he broke a record that Bart Starr had held since the 1960s.
It’s a testament to how great Starr was in big games that he had a postseason passer rating of 104.8, still second only to Mahomes in NFL history. NFL passing offenses were so different during Starr’s era that most of the passing numbers from those days look laughably bad. (In 1969 Starr led the league with an 89.9 passer rating, while in 2020 the league average passer rating was 93.6.) In the playoffs, Starr put up numbers in the 1960s that look excellent even in 2020.
Mahomes is now putting up numbers that the NFL has never seen before.