Making your NFL debut as an NFL quarterback can be a mixed bag. Sometimes you come off the bench and engineer a dramatic come-from-behind victory, and other times you’re just put in the game with 28 seconds left to take a victory formation snap. Some QBs get to start their very first NFL game, while others may not see any action until the end of the season or even the next season.
The 2020 season kicks off next week, and at least one rookie QB is expected to make his professional debut: the Cincinnati Bengals’ Joe Burrow, the league’s No. 1 draft pick. Other rookie signal callers to watch out for this season include the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert and, of course, the Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa.
How well do you know your NFL QB debuts? Match the descriptions below with the list of QBs we provided. The answers are at the very bottom of the page. Good luck!
1. My NFL debut was memorable…in a bad way. I was only 1-for-8 for 14 yards passing. I also threw a pick and was sacked four times. Oh, and before one play I inadvertently lined up under one of our guards, Tom Glassic. Steve DeBerg eventually subbed in for me and we beat Pittsburgh, 14-10. My career did get better, however, and I’ve got Super Bowl rings to prove it.
2. I didn’t make my NFL debut until the third game of my rookie season. I came off the bench against the Raiders and went 14-27 for 90 yards and 2 TDs. My first-ever NFL TD pass was to my TE, Joe Rose. We lost the game, but I went on to have a prolific rookie campaign and even made the Pro Bowl at the end of the season.
3. My very first NFL game came at midway through my rookie season, at the end of a 31-14 blowout victory over the Rams. I had no stats because I just came in at the very end for mop-up duty. I only played in one more game that season, and I went 0-4 in that one. The very next season, however, I was traded to a new team and put up 3,227 yards and 18 TDs. I was well on my way to a Hall of Fame career.
4. I only played one game during my rookie season: I went 1 for 3 for 6 measly yards in a lopsided loss to the Detroit Lions. But that’s okay. I wasn’t a high draft pick, so expectations were low. You could say things got better for me the next season, when an unfortunate injury to our starting QB allowed me to take the starting reins. That year, I helped lead my team to a Super Bowl championship. Earlier this year, one of my rookie cards was sold for $400,000 on eBay.
5. My first NFL game was my team’s season opener. We played the Miami Dolphins and their great QB, Dan Marino. Statistically, I think I did okay: 21 for 37 for 302 yards and a TD. I did throw 3 picks and got sacked 4 times, but let’s not dwell on that, shall we? We lost, 24-15. In fact, sad to say, we only won three games that entire season. But today I’m regarded as one of the greatest QBs of all time.
6. I made quite a splash in my NFL debut, subbing for an injured Doug Flutie in the eighth game of the season. I passed for 221 yards and a TD, igniting the home crowd. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite enough, and we lost to the Kansas City Chiefs, 25-20. I was named the starter the following season and was named to my first Pro Bowl a couple years later. Two seasons after that, I got traded. No problem. I became a Super Bowl MVP.
7. I’m not the bragging type, but I’m the first NFL QB to score a perfect passer rating in my first career start (it was actually my very first NFL game). I’m also the first QB to throw four TDs in the first half of my NFL debut (our season opener against Tampa Bay). My first TD came on just my fourth career passing attempt – a 52-yard laser to receiver Kendall Wright. Best of all, we blew out the Bucs, 42-14.
8. My NFL debut came on the final game of the season. We were getting spanked by the San Francisco 49ers, and I entered the game and went 4 for 11 for 36 yards. Not a very auspicious debut, right? Heck, I was happy just to have the opportunity. No team drafted me. I tried out for the Green Bay Packers, but got cut. I even played in the Arena Football League for a while before making the NFL. But things got better during my second season, when a preseason injury to our starting QB gave me the opportunity to show what I could do. Well, what I did do is lead my team to the Super Bowl title that season!
9. How’s this for a stat: I played in every game of my rookie season, but only got to throw the ball 23 times for a total of 96 yards. My first official stat came in a narrow loss to the Rams. I went 1 for 1 for 8 yards. I usually held the clipboards for most games, but I bided my time and soaked up all the knowledge I could from our Hall of Fame coach. The next year, I became my team’s starting QB midway through the season and became known for engineering fourth-quarter comeback wins (31, but who’s counting?).
10. I saw my first NFL action in the second game of my rookie season. I replaced our injured QB in the third quarter and went 12-20 for 176 yards against the Baltimore Ravens. We lost the game, but I won the starting job. The rest is history. That rookie season, my team went 13-0 with me as the starter. Oh, and you Hawaii fans should remember me for putting up 452 yards and 3 TDs on your beloved Rainbow Warriors during my freshman year. (Yeah, we lost to you guys, 52-51, but whatever.)
A. DAN MARINO
B. KURT WARNER
C. PEYTON MANNING
D. DREW BREES
E. JOE MONTANA
F. BEN ROETHLISBERGER
G. TOM BRADY
H. JOHN ELWAY
I. BRETT FAVRE
J. MARCUS MARIOTA
1-H. 2-A. 3-I. 4-G. 5-C. 6-D. 7-J. 8-B. 9-E. 10-F.