The 2021 NFL season opener was a rare game in NFL history, with Dak Prescott throwing 58 passes and Tom Brady throwing 50.
How rare was that? It was just the fourth game in NFL history when both teams threw 50 or more passes.
Of the three previous games, two needed to go to overtime for both teams to reach 50 passes: In 2019, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw 56 passes and Dolphins quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick threw 52 passes in a Dolphins overtime win, and in 2002 Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck threw 53 passes while Chargers quarterback Drew Brees threw 49 (and receiver Reche Caldwell threw one on a trick play) in a Seahawks overtime win.
The only time before Thursday night that both teams threw 50 passes in regulation was in 2014, when Brady threw 53 passes for the Patriots while Peyton Manning threw 57 passes for the Broncos in a Patriots victory.
Thursday night’s pass fest was rare, but it may point toward a growing trend toward the passing game in the NFL. Coaches are increasingly finding that their offenses are more efficient the more they pass.