Now that Super Bowl LVII is over, I’ve taken the time to go back and look at some really good individual-game quarterback performances from the 2022 NFL season. My top five are all set, but before we get to those, there were other performances that merited strong consideration.
Jacoby Brissett, Cleveland Browns
Cooper Rush, Dallas Cowboys
These two aren’t really for single-game performances but for a stretch of games by quarterbacks who subbed for their team’s starter under difficult circumstances.
Jacoby Brissett started the first 11 games of the season in place of Deshaun Watson, who was suspended. Even though the Cleveland Browns went 4-7 in that time, Brissett did some good things. He put his team in a position to have a chance to win each week. He completed 64 percent of his passes and threw twice as many touchdowns as interceptions (12-6).
In fact, the Browns scored 23 points per game with Brissett under center, compared to 16 points per game with Watson.
Dak Prescott went down in Week 1, and Cooper Rush came in for five weeks and played solid football for the Dallas Cowboys. In fact, they went 4-1, and the only loss was to the Philadelphia Eagles, 26-17.
Rush really handled a difficult situation well and kept the Cowboys very competitive in Prescott’s absence.
Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars
Wild-Card Round vs. L.A. Chargers
The first year in Jacksonville for Trevor Lawrence was a train wreck, thanks to Urban Meyer with all that nonsense. Doug Pederson came in this year as the coach. The results initially weren’t good as the team struggled to a 2-6 start, but the Jacksonville Jaguars played their best football in the second half of the season, going 7-2 to win the AFC South.
Lawrence really turned the corner at the midpoint of the season. But I was so impressed with what I saw in that wild-card game against the Los Angeles Chargers. The first half was a disaster; four interceptions, and the Jaguars trailed, 27-0, at one point. In the second half, a different Lawrence came out. It was just terrific — three touchdowns in the 31-30 win to advance to the divisional round.
I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen from Lawrence in Year 2. I think great things are in store for Pederson, Lawrence and the Jaguars in 2023.
Chad Henne, Kansas City Chiefs
Divisional Round vs. Jacksonville
I’ve got to tip my hat to Chad Henne. How many quarterbacks win a Super Bowl, have a Bud Light and then announce they’re going to retire? I’ve always had great respect for Henne and his body of work. He was always able to come in at a moment’s notice, despite not getting practice reps, and play at a high level.
Look what he did in the playoffs. He came off the bench vs. Jacksonville (in a 27-20 divisional-round victory). The Kansas City Chiefs put together a 98-yard drive. They finished it with a touchdown pass in the red zone. Coach Andy Reid called a pass on the very first play of that drive at their 2-yard line. That speaks volumes about the confidence he had in Henne. It’s always good to have a veteran quarterback who can step in at a moment’s notice and keep things running smoothly. That’s Henne.
Mike White, New York Jets
Week 12 vs. Chicago
The New York Jets were winning games despite the struggles of Zach Wilson at quarterback. Specifically, they were winning a lot of close games. When Mike White entered in Week 12 against the Chicago Bears, he elevated the Jets’ offense and made it look completely different.
Even in the first half, you could see they were clicking offensively in the passing game in the rain. Despite the rain and some messy conditions, he went 22-of-29 for 315 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He got hurt a few weeks later, but White did some really good things for the Jets.
Best of the Best
5. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
Week 7 vs. Atlanta
When you think about how the Cincinnati Bengals season started the first two games, I didn’t think Joe Burrow would make it to Week 7. The first two games were bad for Burrow and bad for the Bengals. He was sacked 13 times. They lost Week 1 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they lost Week 2 to the Los Angeles Rams, but they got the protections straightened out.
Burrow wound up having an All-Pro season, but in Week 7 vs. the Atlanta Falcons, he put on a show. He completed 81 percent of his passes for 481 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Burrow is the real deal. The past two seasons, the Bengals made it to the AFC Championship Game, and Burrow is a big reason why.
4. Daniel Jones, New York Giants
Week 17 vs. Indianapolis
One of the most improved players in the NFL this season was the New York Giants‘ Daniel Jones. We saw steady progress from him under coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka.
Week 17 was a monumental game for Jones vs. the Indianapolis Colts. He did it all. He made a lot of big plays in the passing game, and he made plays with his feet. He threw for two touchdowns and ran for two touchdowns to lead the Giants to the playoffs.
He played well two weeks later against the Minnesota Vikings in a 31-24 wild-card victory, passing for 301 yards and two touchdowns and running for 78 yards.
3. Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
Week 2 at Baltimore
The Miami Dolphins got off to a good start, but in Week 2, on the road against the Baltimore Ravens, they were trailing 21-0 at the half. Tua Tagovailoa‘s first-half numbers were ugly. He had two interceptions.
The Dolphins came out of the locker room in the second half and there was a different Tagovailoa. He completed 80 percent of his passes and had 319 passing yards, along with five second-half touchdown passes and no turnovers.
Tagovailoa just has to stay healthy in 2023.
2. Brock Purdy, San Francisco 49ers
Week 13 vs. Miami
The moment I saw Brock Purdy in that Week 13 game against Miami after Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt, I thought, there’s a guy that comes in at a moment’s notice, a rookie, and looked poised, played good football, took care of the football, and it didn’t seem like the moment was too big for him.
He went a perfect 7-0 before getting injured in the NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Look at his numbers: he completed 67 percent of his passes, threw for 16 touchdowns and had just four interceptions. Purdy got it done every week for the San Francisco 49ers. It was an impressive season for Mr. Irrelevant.
1. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
(tie) Week 1 at Arizona, Week 7 at San Francisco
If you’re the league MVP and the Super Bowl MVP, it’s hard to pick just one week with a guy like Patrick Mahomes. He did it all for the Kansas City Chiefs. I’m going to pick two games from the regular season.
How about Week 1 against the Arizona Cardinals? Mahomes put on what I would refer to as a freak show. I mean, a real freak show. He went out and threw for 360 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in a 44-21 victory. I loved everything about Mahomes in this game.
How about Week 7, going up against the best defense in football, the San Francisco 49ers? He completed 74 percent of his passes and had 423 passing yards against DeMeco Ryans’ defense in a 44-23 victory. Nobody else did that this season. The 49ers had the No. 1 defense in football, the No. 1 scoring defense in football, and Nick Bosa led the league in sacks with 18.5. And yet Mahomes went out and threw for 423 yards and three touchdowns. It was an amazing season once again from the game’s best.
Rich Gannon played 18 seasons in the NFL and won the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2002 when he led the Oakland Raiders to Super Bowl XXXVII. Follow him on Twitter at @RichGannon12.