Pro Football Focus has been scouting every game, every play, and every player since the 2006 NFL season. That means the amount of single-game grades that have been dished out are almost unimaginable. I don’t even want to imagine what the math on that would look like.
This past week, PFF put out a list of the 100 best single-game grades ever received. Among those 100 grades were three performances by a San Diego/Los Angeles Charger. To my surprise, there was no listing of former MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, or even the touchdown leader for tight ends in Antonio Gates.
Curious to see which three performances made the elite list? I bet you are.
67. PHILIP RIVERS, SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
96.0 OVERALL GRADE, WEEK 17 OF THE 2011 SEASON
Of course there had to be at least one performance by Old Man Rivers included on this. He’s been spinning so well for so long that it was bound to happen. It’s also nice to see him perform like this against a divisional opponent. Here’s what PFF had to say:
“Rivers saved his best game of 2011 until the last game of the season against the Oakland Raiders. He was lights out from a clean pocket and completed 17-of-20 clean-pocket attempts for 303 yards, three touchdowns and one interception — all good for a passer rating of 137.5.”
40. PHILIP RIVERS, SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
96.6 OVERALL GRADE, WEEK 5 OF THE 2007 SEASON
Oh look, it’s Rivers once again putting the works on another divisional opponent. This time, it’s the Denver Broncos all the way back in 2007. Accordig to PFF, this is still one of the highest passing performances ever recorded in the PFF era. Here’s what they had to say:
“Rivers put on a masterful display in this Week 5 game against the Broncos, a display so good, that the 97.1 passing grade that he earned still stands as the third-best single-game mark of the PFF era. He completed 13-of-18 attempts for 270 yards, two touchdowns and four big-time throws in this one, and he was downgraded on just two of his 53 offensive snaps.”
22. CASEY HAYWARD JR., LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
97.3 OVERALL GRADE, WEEK 11 OF THE 2017 SEASON
To think that, out of all the Chargers who have played from 2006 until now, it would be a fairly new Bolt who takes the cake as the highest-graded single game performer in the PFF era. This game was so much fun to watch, wasn’t it? Buffalo Bills QB Nathan Peterman went through the worst day of his life as he threw five interceptions in this game against the Chargers. Hayward, who was coming off the 2016 season where he led the league in picks, continued his momentum at the cost of Peterman’s self-esteem. Here’s what they had to say about Hayward’s big day:
“Hayward wasn’t a stranger to putting up big games in his career year of 2017, but none were better than his Week 11 performances against the Bills. The veteran cornerback was targeted eight times on the day; he allowed one catch for 20 yards, but picked off two passes and broke up another two more. His superb outing in coverage earned a single-game coverage grade of 96.6 — still the best single-game mark by a cornerback in the PFF era.”
On the flip-side, some teams and players will have to be on the other side of this list. As in, they are the one’s who get immortalized as “the team that let X player go off for 500 yards and six TDs on this day” for the rest of their lives. Alas, this is life. Here’s the lone performance on this list that was against the then-San Diego Chargers.
94. TONY GONZALEZ, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
95.7 OVERALL GRADE, WEEK 7 OF THE 2006 SEASON
“The Hall of Fame tight end revolutionized the position during his time in the NFL, and he will arguably go down as the best tight end to ever play the game. His Week 7 clash — the first game of an amazing three-game streak — against the Chargers was a testament to Gonzalez’s excellence: he caught 6-of-7 targets for 118 yards and earned a career-high 96.0 receiving grade for his efforts.”