Andy Dalton Put Up a Historic Performance in Loss to Cleveland

By Jason Lisk

If you sat through that Thursday Night game last night, you witnessed history. It’s hard to fully calculate something like “what’s the worst quarterback performance in history?” because there can be so many factors. But let’s just put it this way – Andy Dalton’s 10-for-33, 86-yard 3-interception disaster in the Year of Our Arena Passing Offense 2014 – is on the short list.

Plenty of quarterbacks have had games where the interception flood gates opened as they tried to play from behind. Others have had games where they could not throw for many yards. For the love of Tebow, others have had plenty of games where they completed few passes. (I watched this beauty where Tebow’s team won with two completed passes on eight attempts; it was magical.)

I may have my issues with something like passer rating, and how it weights things. In this case, though, at the bottom end of performance, it does a pretty good job of capturing horrible performances that hit on all those things. If you throw for a lot of interceptions but also throw for a bunch of yards, you won’t be near the bottom.

With that said, here is the list of the lowest passer rating (using the current formula) for all games since 1960 where a quarterback threw at least 25 passes.

So while he is on the short list already, several factors make this a historically bad game. The average passer rating so far in 2014 is 89.2. That’s significantly higher than even a decade ago, when Garcia put up his stinker after moving to Cleveland. It’s way higher than all those games before 1980, when the average was in the 60’s.

Also, Dalton didn’t have the weather issues that some of those other extreme games had. Bobby Douglass’ Blutarski game came in high winds and a 23 degree wind chill in Chicago, when the opposing QB also had 75 passing yards.

That Kim McQuilken classic game came outdoors in the old Met in Minneapolis. Fran Tarkenton only managed 47 passing yards that day in bad weather, and for the history buffs out there, that game came on the same day that the Edmund Fitzgerald–source of the Gordon Lightfoot song— departed from the far western end of Lake Superior and notoriously sank the next day in a storm where wind speeds got as high as 80 miles per hour.

Most of the players on that list were what we might describe as journeymen. Most did not have a player the caliber of A.J. Green. Given the rising salaries, I’m going to guess none just signed a contract similar to Dalton. You never know when you get to witness history, but Andy Dalton has blessed us all.

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