NFL fans dig the long ball
Bills quarterback Josh Allen. Jamie Germano/Democrat and Chronicle / USA TODAY NETWORK

NFL fans dig the long ball, too

Congratulations to Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for winning the 2023 MLB Home Run Derby on Monday night. Nothing excites baseball fans like a long home run. But football fans dig the long ball too.

While NFL quarterbacks don’t go deep like they used to, they still air it out from time to time. Last season, 44 QBs had completions of 50 yards or more. But who did it best?

At 98 yards, Buffalo’s Josh Allen had the longest completion of the 2022 season. It came in Week 5 against Pittsburgh. With the game barely a minute old, Allen unleashed a bomb from his own two-yard line to Gabe Davis who ran the ball in for the game’s first score.

It was an impressive play, but before you crown Allen the league’s “long ball king,” keep in mind his pass only traveled 38 yards in the air, Davis ran for the other 60. NFL stats can be deceiving, especially on paper. 

Consider last year’s second-longest pass play. Against the Packers in Week 16, Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa set a Christmas Day record with an 84-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Waddle. The pass itself only traveled 12 yards, but before you dismiss Tagovailoa’s arm, take a closer look at his “air yards” in 2022.

According to StatMuse, Tagovailoa had the highest air yards among quarterbacks with a minimum of 14 passing attempts per game last year. His 8.9 yards per attempt was nearly a yard better than the second-place QB, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, a man who once threw a football out of Arrowhead Stadium.

If that surprises you, you’ll never believe which current quarterback holds the record for the longest NFL pass completion through the air. Back in 2021, Baker Mayfield threw a 70.5-yard Hail Mary to Donovan Peoples-Jones which remains the longest air-yards completion of the Next Gen Stats era.

Did Tampa Bay know what they were doing when they signed Mayfield? It’s possible, but don’t expect him to overtake Allen Mahomes or Tagovailoa any time soon.

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