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Best Birthday Performances in NFL History

By Dan Vasta in NFL
| November 18, 2021 1:15 pm PDT

So many stars have shined in NFL history, but only a select few have been able to play on their birthdays. Many of the top players have a birthday in the offseason. Thus, those stars are not on the final list.

The conversation for great performances was short. There are still active Hall of Fame players that would play for two decades and miss out on getting a shot to play on their birthday. Some only played once or twice on their birthday after a 20-year career.

Many players failed to play on their birthday, and most that did ended up having an average game. Here are your top birthday performances in NFL history.

10. Dan Marino – 35th Birthday (September 15th, 1996)

One of the greatest players to never win a championship still is one of the top passers in league history. Marino had an absolute rifle of an arm and showed it off in Week 3 of the 1996 season.

Marino ended up with three touchdown passes and 257 yards in a 36-27 divisional victory over the New York Jets. Knocking off the bitter rivals throughout his career was a constant.

While he would have loved to dominate the Jets, he finished his career 17-13 with 72 career passing touchdowns.

The Miami signal-caller was an icon that had ridiculous throws and plays that occurred two decades before 2012. The fake spike and connection to Mark Ingram Sr. was impressive, but his 35th birthday was classic Dan.

9. Philip Rivers – 38th Birthday (December 8th, 2019)

Rivers just unofficially retired entering the 2021 season, but he is easily in the Hall of very good discussion. The past few seasons prior to his retirement were full of roller coaster moments.

It was on his 38th birthday that Rivers went bonkers against the Jaguars. The veteran gunslinger spun the magic bean for 314 yards and three touchdowns.

Jacksonville was a pedestrian 4-9 squad after their home defeat. Rivers had his security blanket target in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler.

The dynamic duo had nearly 200 yards receiving, and Rivers even brought his trash-talking excellence to the gridiron.

This game was the highly entertaining matchup where Philip Rivers got into it with Jacksonville pass-rusher Yannick Ngakoue. Rivers dropped a dot to Ekeler for an 84-yard touchdown. Rivers thought it was 90, but that was the only thing he was slightly off about on the day.

He was flawless on his birthday.

8. Jerry Rice – 29th Birthday (October 13th, 1991)

The GOAT hauled in seven grabs for 138 yards and a score. While it was a humbling defeat to Atlanta, Rice performed well enough to keep his team in the game on his birthday.

The 51-yard touchdown catch on his birthday in Week 7 of the 1991 season was a thing of beauty. Rice made every catch look flawless, thanks to tremendous hands and the ability to run proper routes in his sleep.

Rice had hundreds of vital catches in his career, but there were plenty of bombs that he hauled in from Joe Montana and Steve Young. Young ended up throwing for 348 yards on the day, but Rice struggled for his standards in the 1991 season.

For the season, he finished with 80 receptions, 1,206 yards and 14 receiving scores. Yes, he was the best ever, and he even backed it up on his 29th birthday.

7. Derrick Henry – 26th Birthday (January 4, 2020)

The dominance that Henry put on towards the end of the 2019-20 season was remarkable. He was special on Wild Card weekend against the New England Patriots.

TEN-NE was the final Patriot game of the career for Tom Brady, but the story was all about King Henry.

He toted the bacon 34 times for 182 yards and a score. The performance was surreal, and he put his name near the top for best single-game postseason performances.

  • 34 carries (T-10th most)
  • 182 yards rushing (No. 18)

Tennessee was an underdog in the game, and Ryan Tannehill only threw for 72 yards. The domination at the line of scrimmage against a solid defensive team stole the show.

New England didn’t lose many home playoff games. It was the end of an era for TB12 at Foxborough. It was also the beginning of a great start to a career for No. 22.

6. Steve Young – 37th Birthday (October 11, 1998)

The best southpaw in NFL history among quarterbacks had a showing on his 37th birthday. The offense was spectacular for decades under Bill Walsh, George Seifert, and Steve Mariucci.

Steve Young carried the Niners to a 12-4 record before falling victim to Atlanta in the postseason (Divisional). The Falcons would win the NFC, but San Francisco had no issues in Week 6 of the 1998 season. They entered with a solid 3-1 record, but Young would slice and dice the New Orleans secondary.

It was as easy as cake for the quarterback that had turned 37. Young completed 21 of 40 passes for 309 yards and three touchdowns.

Threading the needle to Jerry Rice, Terrell Owens, J.J. Stokes, and Garrison Hearst make it seem like a birthday every outing.

The 1998 season was the second to last year of his career for Young. He finished the illustrious career with a 16-4 record against the Saints, but not many performances were better than his 37th birthday.

5. Brett Favre – 30th Birthday (October 10th, 1999)

The Packer passer put together his best performance of the entire 1999 season in Week 5 against Tampa. Favre threw four touchdowns in the 1999 season opener, but he torched the Buccaneers secondary for 399 yards passing.

The 30th birthday featured many presents that he was opening throughout the game. Having the game-winning touchdown to Antonio Freeman in the final moments was the best moment. One minute and five seconds remained on the clock. That would be the final points of the game.

Throwing the game-winning score on your birthday always makes the day a winning one. Green Bay ironically went 8-8 that season and missed the playoffs after appearing in it for six consecutive seasons.

Favre would play for 11 more seasons, but he would not play on his birthday again. The arm strength and pocket presence were legendary, and Favre would certainly have plenty more birthday-like performances after he turned 30.

4. Warren Moon – 34th Birthday (November 18th, 1990)

The future Hall of Famer would put together a video game-like performance on his 34th birthday. Moon was flawless in Tecmo Super Bowl, but in the real world, he was even better.

Moon torched the Cleveland Browns for 322 yards and five touchdowns. He completed 75% of his passes and was exposing the Cleveland secondary with such ease. The game had five lead changes, and it was in doubt until the fourth quarter when Houston went up by 19 points.

The crazier part about the virtuoso performance by Moon was that it was on the road in 37-degree weather. Moon was connecting with his favorite targets on the day. Curtis Duncan, the former Northwestern Wildcat, hauled in 7 receptions for 130 yards and a score.

The Oiler signal-caller was dropping dimes all day to Duncan, Haywood Jeffires, and Ernest Givens. Some passers start to show their age in their mid-30s, but Moon dazzled the NFL on his birthday, making it one of the better performances at the quarterback position.

3. Isaac Bruce – 30th Birthday (November 10, 2002)

One of the more underrated players on this list was a Hall of Famer that did not receive nearly the love that he deserves. Most youngsters on Twitter will prefer Calvin Johnson or Julio Jones, but the longevity of Bruce’s career was remarkable.

The legacy of Isaac Bruce was impressive since he was getting open at an alarming rate. He was a former late second-round pick, but he was sensational throughout his Hall of Fame career.

Bruce put together one of the best games of his career in 2002. He was falling out of his prime, but he proved the naysayers wrong with a new quarterback in 2002.

The birthday wideout hauled in 10 of his 12 targets for 163 yards and three touchdowns. Marc Bulger was his quarterback and he ended with 453 yards and four scores on the day.

The Rams had Kurt Warner as a Hall of Famer that had Marshall Faulk and Torry Holt with Bruce. After Warner left the Rams, Bruce still posted gaudy numbers down the stretch of his career before he was on the 49ers.

2. Russell Wilson – 27th Birthday (November 29th, 2012)

There was no better quarterback performance than the one Russ ended up pulling off in 2012. On his 27th birthday, he posted one of his eventual five touchdown performances in his career (entering 2021).

Wilson was making it rain touchdowns against the Pittsburgh defense. We saw players such as Doug Baldwin and Jermain Kearse rise to the occasion with Wilson.

The pair combined for five scores. It was an impressive 49-40 victory over Pittsburgh. The Seahawks would make the playoffs with a 10-6 record before falling to Carolina in the postseason (Divisional).

Russ was cooking during the season, having his first-ever 30-plus touchdown season. Tyler Lockett was a youngster, and Wilson was coming off consecutive Super Bowl appearances.

The ability to drop the ball in a bucket on his deep passes was Hall of Fame-like against Pittsburgh.

The five touchdowns and 345 yards were the top quarterback performance in the NFL we have ever seen from a player on their birthday.

1. Bo Jackson – 25th Birthday (November 30th, 1987)

Bo Knows!

Bo Jackson picked a moment to have a memorable performance on Monday Night Football against Seattle. Posting gaudy numbers on MNF was well before social media existed.

Bo set the rushing record with 221 yards, including one of the more iconic runs we have seen. The 91-yard scamper was the longest run in Raiders history and the second-longest MNF run at the time.

Bo was known for his explosive ability to shed tackles and make plays to the house. The top player in any sports video game had several breath-taking moments. The moment where Bo ran over Brian Bosworth, was a monumental moment for a touchdown, the Raiders won 37-14 at Seattle.

Jackson only played four seasons, and his rookie campaign occurred during the 1987 season. The MNF game was the most yards Bo had ever gained in any matchup for his career. The Raider back scored a third touchdown on a receiving touchdown.

The night was an absolute fiesta, and the Raiders lacked many great moments that season. Thanks to the birthday star, their nationally televised matchup against their rivals was a dream come true.

Injuries derailed his athletic career, but peak Jackson was off the charts. His ability was similar to Derrick Henry but more athletic. The dominance felt like it should have lasted forever.

Still, watching Bo run in a video game and real-life was as exciting as having a surprise birthday party.

Summary

The select few that made this list were exceptional players. There is an outside shot that almost every player on this list will end up making the Hall of Fame.

Ironically, Jackson might be the lone player not in the Hall, but the rest has a shot. Rice, Young, Marino, Favre, Bruce, and Moon already made the HOF. If there is a player that you felt deserved to make my list, drop down your opinion in the comments section.

The offense rules the day for birthday parties, and these players stole the show. There are many stars on this list with consistent yearly heroics.

Knowing which stars are playing on their birthday can help you earn the big bucks. If you enjoy the game of risk and chance, you have come to the right place.

This article is one of many that can help you out the next time you wager on sports.

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