Five previous times, someone posted a perfect passer rating of 158.3 for the Buccaneers, most recently Craig Erickson, who went 19-for-24 for 313 yards and three touchdowns against the Colts in 1994.
Parnell Dickinson was the first, but his performance hardly was a bright spot in the Bucs’ winless inaugural season of 1976. After going 4-for-4 for 51 yards and a touchdown against the Dolphins, Dickinson hurt his foot and was replaced by Steve Spurrier.
Steve DeBerg had two “perfect games” in 1986, but those were contests in which the journeyman went 1-for-1 and 5-for-6, with a touchdown apiece against the Vikings and St. Louis Cardinals, as Steve Young was Tampa Bay’s main signal caller.
Last but not least, there was running back James Wilder, who threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Adger Armstrong to open the scoring at Lambeau Field on December 2, 1984, in a game the Packers went on to win, 27-14.
Erickson remains the only Bucs passer to put up a 158.3 rating and be the only Tampa Bay quarterback to appear in the game… because Tom Brady didn’t even need to bother playing the second half against the Lions on Saturday. Blaine Gabbert handled the second half and threw two more touchdown passes in the Bucs’ 47-7 romp to clinch a playoff spot.
With COVID-19 forcing the Lions — who already fired coach Matt Patricia — to elevate wide receivers coach Robert Prince to head coach, with head coach assistant Evan Rothstein calling plays on defense, Brady tore Detroit apart.
Brady went 22-for-27 for 348 yards with four touchdowns in the first half, and with a 34-point lead, called it a day. Four different receivers — Rob Gronkowski, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Antonio Brown — were the beneficiaries of Brady’s dissection of Rothstein’s defense, and Leonard Fournette added a rushing touchdown in the second quarter for good measure.
By exiting the game, Brady gave up a chance to break one of football’s longest-standing records, Norm Van Brocklin’s 554 passing yards for the Rams against the New York Yanks in 1951. Brady also fell 13 yards shy of Peyton Manning’s record of 361 passing yards in the first half of a game, set in 2005, and 25 yards short of Kurt Warner’s 2008 mark for yards in any half.
Also still safe are Sid Luckman, Adrian Burk, George Blanda, Y.A. Tittle, Joe Kapp, Manning, Nick Foles (in a 2013 game where he had a 158.3 rating), and Drew Brees, as the quarterbacks sharing the record of seven touchdown passes in a game. Daryle Lamonica and Aaron Rodgers still share the record for touchdown passes in a half, with six.
At 43 years, 155 days old, Brady isn’t even the oldest quarterback to have a perfect passer rating in a game. That would be Warren Moon, who was 43 years and 339 days old when he was playing for Kansas City and relieved an injured Elvis Grbac to go 3-for-3 for 78 yards and a touchdown against the St. Louis Rams in 2000.
Brady also doesn’t know how to wear a mask.
So, all respect to Craig Erickson.
And long live Bucco Bruce and the creamsicle pants.