During this MLB season, fans have witnessed several rather rare feats on the field, including a perfect game and a 4-homer game.  Either of these accomplishments, and many more (a triple play or four stolen bases in a game, etc.), have the potential to occur during any given game.  The possibility is there, but it’s difficult to achieve.
Football has many rare accomplishments as well, and some plateaus still waiting to be reached (such as 600 yards passing in a game).
Here are some of those rare feats from the NFL gridiron, taken in context of how recently they have occurred.
  • Accomplished:  12 times in NFL history
  • The Record:  296 (Adrian Peterson, 2007)
Perhaps surprisingly, eight of the top 10 individual-game totals have occurred since 2000, including the top four on the list (Peterson; Jamal Lewis, 295; Jerome Harrison, 286; Corey Dillon, 278).
Unlike the 500-yard passing list, one player has accomplished this feat more than once; O.J. Simpson rushed for 250 yards in a game in 1973, and did it again, going for 273 yards in 1976.
The all-time leading rusher in the NFL (Emmitt Smith) does not appear on the list, but the RB in second place, Walter Payton, does.  Payton held the single-game mark of 275 yards for 23 years, until Dillon topped it by 3 yards in 2000.
Recent RB’s on this list are:  Peterson, Lewis, Harrison, Dillon, Jamaal Charles (259) and DeMarco Murray (253).  Murray accomplished the feat most recently last season, as a virtually unknown rookie for Dallas.
  • Accomplished:  19 times in NFL history
  • The Record:  336 (Flipper Anderson, 1989)
Six of the 19 games in which a receiver hit the 250-yard mark have occurred since 2000, with the most recent time by Dallas’ Miles Austin in 2009.  Austin needed OT to reach the milestone, including the game-winning 60-yard scoring pass in the extra frame.
Other active players on the list include Plaxico Burress (253, 2002), Chad Ochocinco (260, 2006), and Lee Evans (265) – who hit his milestone a week after Ochocinco did it.
Only four pass-catchers have ever topped the 300-yard mark in a game, led by Anderson, who set the mark against New Orleans on Nov. 26, 1989.  Anderson caught 15 passes from Jim Everett, for 1 TD and a long reception of 50 yards.  That game went into OT (the Rams won) – with Anderson accumulating his final 40 yards in the extra period.  Amazingly, Anderson entered the late November game with just 19 catches all season.  But he became Everett’s go-to guy because top receiver Henry Ellard was out injured.
The other three players to reach the 300-yard plateau were Cloyce Box (302, 1950), Jim Benton (303, 1945) and Stephone Paige (309, 1985).
  • Accomplished:  12 times in NFL history
  • The Record:  554 (Norm Van Brocklin, 1951)
Five of the 12 occurrences have taken place within the past 15 seasons, including two in the 2011 season alone; both Matt Stafford (520) and Tom Brady (517) surpassed the milestone this past season.
No player in league history has ever accomplished the feat twice.  The list includes HOF’ers like Van Brocklin, Warren Moon (527), Dan Marino (521) and YA Tittle (505), as well as average QBs (Elvis Grbac, 504 & Vince Ferragamo, 509).
Active QBs on the list are:  Stafford, Brady, Drew Brees (510) and Ben Roethlisberger (503).
In this Age of Passing in the NFL, it’s hard to believe that Van Brocklin’s record will still be standing 10 years from now (or even five).
  • Accomplished:  11 times in NFL history
  • The Record:  94.4 by Craig Morton (1981) & Fran Tarkenton (1977)
Two active QB’s share third place on this list; Roethlisberger completed 92.9% of his passes against Houston in Week 1 of the 2008 season, and Brady matched that mark in a playoff game against Jacksonville later that season. Roethlisberger completed 13 of 14 passes in a win over the Texans, for 137 yards and 2 TDs.  Brady was even more impressive, going 26-for-28, for 262 yards and 3 TDs, as the Patriots knocked out the Jaguars 31-20, and continued their unbeaten season (which would end in the Super Bowl).
Steve Young holds a share of second place (with Steve McNair), with a 93.8% completion mark.  Young is also alone in eighth place, at 90.0%.
Six of the top 11 best single-game marks have occurred since 1991.
  • Accomplished:  14 times in NFL history
  • Most recently:  DeAngelo Hall, 2010
Only two of these 4-Interception games have occurred since 2000, and just three overall since 1986.  On the other hand, seven of these games occurred in the 1960s, with three more in the ‘70s.
Jerry Norton of St. Louis is the only player to accomplish this feat twice, and he did it in consecutive seasons (1960-61).
Hall picked off Jay Cutler of Chicago four times in an October, 2010 game.  He returned one of those interceptions 97 yards for the eventual game-winning score in Washington’s 17-14 win over the Bears.  Previously, Deltha O’Neal of Denver picked on, and picked off, Trent Green of Kansas City four times in a 2001 game.  The Broncos won that game 20-6.
  • Accomplished:  13 times in NFL history
  • The Record:  7 (Derrick Thomas, 1990)
The late Thomas’ incredible game on Nov. 11, 1990, was the stuff of legends.  The Kansas City LB pulled down Seattle QB Dave Krieg 7 times heading into the final play of the game, as the Seahawks trailed 16-10.  Thomas actually got his hands on Krieg on the final snap, trying for an eighth sack, but Krieg got the pass away, and it was caught for a game-winning TD by Paul Skansi.
Three players share second place on the list; Thomas, Fred Dean (1983) and Osi Umenyiora (2007) all registered 6 sacks in a single game.
Vonnie Holliday is the only other active player on the list.  The Green Bay DT racked up 5 sacks of Buffalo’s Drew Bledsoe in a Sept., 2002, game.