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Best Single-Game Performances in NFL History: Brandon Marshall, Tom Brady Headline Top 8

What are the best single-game performances in NFL history? We offer our top eight, which include games from Tom Brady and Brandon Marshall.

Ranking the best single-game performances in NFL history isn’t easy.

How do you compare a game from the 1940s, when some players contributed to all three phases, to an incredible performance from the last five seasons? In some respects, we’re talking about two completely different sports.

Nevertheless, we ranked the eight best single-game performances in NFL history, along with five honorable mentions.

8 Best Single-Game Performances in NFL History

Honorable mentions: Norm Van Brocklin (554 passing yards in 1951), Cloyce Box (302 receiving yards, four TDs in 1950), Gale Sayers (336 total yards, six TDs in 1965), Joe Namath (496 yards, six TDs in 1972), Drew Brees (505 yards, seven TDs in 2015)

8) Tom Brady (2009)

Neither the New England snow nor the Tennessee Titans could slow Tom Brady in this game.

In a complete dismantling of the Titans, Brady threw a record five touchdown passes in the second quarter. He finished the game with 380 yards and six TDs, remarkable numbers when you consider he didn’t play after the first series of the second half.

Had Brady played the full game, he might’ve posted the best all-around single-game passing stats in history.

7) Don Hutson (1945)

The first old-time football performance on this list.

Green Bay Packers receiver Don Hutson scored 29 points in one quarter — four TDs, five PATs — during a 57-21 trouncing of the Detroit Lions. He finished the game with six catches for 144 yards and four scores.

It’s the kind of performance that likely never will be duplicated.

6) David Harris (2007)

New York Jets linebacker David Harris racked up a record 20 tackles during a November 2007 matchup with Washington. And these weren’t fake tackles where players just ran into Harris; he was all over the field and dominated from start to finish.

Will we ever see more than 20 tackles in a single game? Perhaps not.

5) Adrian Peterson (2007)

Adrian Peterson ran all over the San Diego Chargers, racking up a still-record 296 rushing yards in the process. Incredibly, 253 of the yards came in the second half — also a record.

Peterson only beat Jamal Lewis’ single-game rushing record by one yard, but he also posted three touchdowns compared to Lewis’ two.

This record might be broken one day, but Peterson’s performance will remain one of the best in NFL history.

4) Derrick Thomas (1990)

Poor Dave Krieg.

On Nov. 11, 1990, legendary Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Derrick Thomas sacked the Seattle Seahawks quarterback a record seven times. It’s hard to envision anyone breaking this record, even though a few players have posted six sacks in one game.

Thomas is one of the best linebackers in NFL history, and this was his finest performance.

3) Ernie Nevers (1929)

The other old-time football performance on this list.

In 1929, a cross-town matchup between the Chicago Bears and Chicago Cardinals saw Cardinals fullback Ernie Nevers score all 40 points (six TDs, four extra points) in his team’s victory. The Hall of Famer still holds the NFL record for most points scored in a single game.

2) Flipper Anderson (1989)

Neither Jerry Rice nor Randy Moss holds the NFL’s single-game receiving yards record. Nor do Calvin Johnson, Tyreek Hill, or Justin Jefferson.

Nope, the record is held by longtime Los Angeles Rams receiver Flipper Anderson, who posted 15 catches for 336 yards against the New Orleans Saints in 1989. Anderson also scored one touchdown in the Rams victory.

Johnson came just seven yards short of tying this record in 2013, so Anderson’s mark isn’t unbreakable.

1) Brandon Marshall (2009)

This performance doesn’t get talked about as much as others on this list, and it might be a surprising pick for the No. 1 spot. But the more we thought about it, the more we found it difficult to rank any performance ahead of what Brandon Marshall did on Dec. 13, 2009.

The Denver Broncos receiver tore up the Indianapolis Colts for a record 21 catches, beating Terrell Owens’ mark of 20 catches set in 2000. Marshall also racked up 200 receiving yards and two TDs.

Unfortunately for Denver, Kyle Orton threw an interception and was sacked three times in a 28-16 home loss.

Still, Marshall’s performance was otherworldly, and his 20-catch record might never be broken.