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Completion percentage records are falling around the NFL

San Diego Chargers v New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS, LA - OCTOBER 07: Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints meets Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers after a 31-24 Saints win at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 7, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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Forty-eight hours ago, no quarterback in NFL history had ever finished a game with more than 20 passes and a completion percentage higher than 95 percent. Then it happened on Sunday. And then it happened again on Monday night.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers shattered the single-game completion percentage record on Sunday, completing 28 of 29 passes, and then Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota nearly broke that record on Monday, completing 22 of 23 passes after a late incompletion broke up a perfect game.

The all-time record book for highest completion percentage in a game now looks like this:
96.6% Philip Rivers, November 25, 2018
95.7%, Marcus Mariota, November 26, 2018
92.3%, Kurt Warner, September 20, 2009

But it’s not just the single-game records that are falling. Completion percentages are up around the NFL. Saints quarterback Drew Brees owns the record for the highest completion percentage in a season, a record he set last year when he completed 72.0 percent of his passes. This year Brees is likely to shatter his own record: Brees has completed 76.4 percent of his passes this year.

Passing offenses are playing so much better this year than they ever have before that it’s hard to make comparisons to past years. The league average completion rate this year is 65.3 percent, a number that would have led the league in 1999, when MVP Kurt Warner was the league leader with a 65.1 percent completion rate. These are not your father’s NFL passing offenses.