Sports fans have a great affinity and fondness for statistical milestones. As football fans, we value 100+ receiving or rushing yards per game, just as we like to think a 1,000-yard receiver or rusher is an elite (or at least a pretty good) player. The appeal of those numbers lies in their simplicity: the numbers are easy to understand, have some correlation to a good to great performance and often mark a numerical cutoff point.
Almost all sports have such numbers. In hockey and soccer, a hat trick signifies three goals scored by one player. In baseball, you intuitively understand what a .300 hitter is. In basketball, a triple-double is the accumulation of double-digit totals in any three of five categories in a game, although it most commonly refers to points, rebounds and assists.
For NFL quarterbacks, no such statistical milestone game exists. Sure, you could always get a "perfect" passer rating, but 158.3 is such a butt-ugly number that no QB would call his mom and say "Hey mom, I just threw a 158.3 game." In fact, that number is so offensive to numerological sensibilities that nobody even calls a game like that a perfect game.
In 1961, Y.A. Tittle of the New York Giants became the first quarterback in modern NFL history to complete a QB Trifecta by passing for more than three hundred yards, completing at least three quarters of his passes and throwing three or more touchdowns. The Oxford Dictionary defines a Trifecta as a "run of three wins or grand events", and while the term is mostly used in horse racing, a stat line of 300 - 3/4 - 3 is a combination of three pretty grand achievements for a QB and can therefore also be called a Trifecta.
The latest quarterback to throw for a QB Trifecta was Dak Prescott, who managed that feat against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday with a stat line of 303 passing yards, a 75% completion rate and 3 touchdown passes. Prescott's performance was the 185th QB Trifecta since 1961, and while the Trifecta has become more frequent over the last few years, it still remains a rarity, as the table below illustrates:
|No. of QB Trifecta games per Decade/Year
|QB Trifecta games||4
Prescott is only the fourth rookie to achieve the mark, joining Cade McNown (CHI, 1999), Marc Bulger (STL, 2002), and Carson Palmer (CIN, 2004).
Of course, the 300 - 3/4 - 3 mark is an arbitrary cutoff stat like many others used in sports, but the numbers do have a certain ring to them, and they are not numbers that every Tom, Dick or Eli puts up every day. Here's a list of all the quarterbacks who've had at least four game in which they passed for a QB Trifecta:
|Player||Career Trifecta Games|
Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Kurt Warner*
Tony Romo, Ben Roethlisberger, Brett Favre*
|Dan Marino*, Boomer Esiason, Matthew Stafford, Trent Green
Looking at the table above, it's no surprise to find the usual suspects at the top of the leaderboard, and only people with less than a rudimentary understanding of football would be surprised to see Tony Romo rank a joint fifth on the list.
Three of the 13 players above are already in the Hall of Fame, at least three more from the list are likely going to join them in Canton, and all 13 QBs are Pro Bowlers.
That's the Trifecta Club Dak Prescott joins in his rookie season, which is unusual enough by itself. But he also joins the Trifecta Club in a game against what was up until Week 10 the No. 1 defense in the NFL: the Ravens allowed a league-low 281.6 total yards per game heading into the matchup with the Cowboys.
Dak Prescott looked shaky in the first quarter, and had issues with his accuracy that led to an unimpressive 59.9 first-quarter passer rating. But things picked up from there, as Prescott posted a 142.6 passer rating for the remaining three quarters, going a ridiculous 23-for-28, including 10-for-10 on his last ten pass attempts.
If you can put up a Trifecta game against the best defense in the league as a rookie as a rookie, despite getting off to a shaky start, you're going places.