In the aftermath of Sunday’s win over the Eagles, you’ve probably been reading all sorts of impressive numbers about Dak Prescott’s performance. How he engineered his 13th game-winning drive, how he now has the second-most wins since 2016 behind only Tom Brady, and much more. And all of that is hugely impressive.
But what very few people know is that Prescott achieved an even rarer statistical milestone for just the second time in his career on Sunday, the QB Trifecta.
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.
On Sunday, Prescott became the latest quarterback to throw for a QB Trifecta when he finished the game with a stat line of 455 passing yards, a 78% completion rate (42/54) and three touchdown passes. Prescott’s performance was the 219th 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||5||23||25||56||5||8||12||13||13||11||15||8||11|
Looking at how many times that statistical milestone has been achieved over the years tells you all you’ll ever want to know about how the passing game has evolved in the NFL.
For Prescott, it was the second QB Trifecta game of his career, the first being the 2016 game against Baltimore (303 yards, 75% CMP, 3 TDs in a 27-17 win).
In that Ravens game, 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 23-for-28, including 10-for-10 on his last ten pass attempts.
In Sunday’s Eagles game, Prescott also started off slow with a passer rating of 64.8 trough the first three quarters, but then posted a 156.9 passer rating for the fourth quarter and OT, going a ridiculous 17-20, including 8-for-8 on his last eight pass attempts.
Of course, the 300/75/3 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 active quarterbacks who’ve had at least two games in which they passed for a QB Trifecta in the regular season or in the playoffs:
|Player||Career Trifecta Games|
|Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, Kirk Cousins||7|
|Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford||4|
|Joe Flacco, Eli Manning, Alex Smith||3|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jared Goff, Case Keenum, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Dak Prescott, Matt Schaub||2|
Looking at the table above, it’s no surprise to find the usual suspects (Brees, Brady, and Rivers, et al) at the top of the leaderboard, though their Trifecta games have mostly come in the latter part of their careers as they became more experienced and more efficient as passers.
Only three active QBs have managed two Trifecta games in their first three years in the league: Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff, and Prescott. If you judge a QB by the company he keeps, that’s fairly good company to be in: two No. 1 picks and that guy in Dallas.