First Passes

History Published on : 9/8/2008

Atlanta Falcons rookie quarterback Matt Ryan wasted little time in making a mark in his NFL regular season debut on Sept. 7, 2008. He threw a 62-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Michael Jenkins on his first ever pass in the NFL just 1:27 into the game against the Detroit Lions.

Ryan, the third overall pick in that year’s draft, became the first quarterback to throw a touchdown on his first NFL pass since 2000 when New England Patriots’ Michael Bishop did so against the Indianapolis Colts.

Ryan finished the day by completing 9 of 13 passes for 161 yards as the Falcons defeated the Lions, 34-21.


Hall of Fame QBs first throw...

Here’s a look at how some Hall of Fame quarterbacks fared on their first pro pass.

Terry Bradshaw, Pittsburgh Steelers
Sept. 20, 1970 vs. Houston Oilers – Bradshaw started his first ever NFL game. After rushing for a two-yard gain on the game’s first play from scrimmage, Bradshaw went deep but overthrew wide receiver Hubie Bryant…Game stats: 4 of 16 for 70 yards, 0 TDs, 1 Int; also rushed three times for 20 yards; was forced out of end zone for safety…Steelers lost, 19-7.

John Elway, Denver Broncos
Sept. 4, 1983 at Pittsburgh Steelers – Elway, the first overall pick that year, started his first game. In the Broncos first series on third down and four from Denver’s own 39-yard-line, Elway threw incomplete to running back Sammy Winder…Game Stats: 1 of 8 for 14 yards, 0 TD, 1 Int.; lost one fumble, called for intentional grounding and sacked four times for 26 yards…Broncos won, 14-10.

Tight end Pettis Norman was the intended target for two future Hall of Famers first passes.

Dan Fouts, San Diego Chargers
Oct. 7, 1973 at Pittsburgh Steelers – Fouts, third on the depth chart that included the starter and future Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas, made his first appearance in this Week 4 contest. Trailing 38-0 at halftime, the Chargers started the second half with Fouts at QB. His first pass intended for tight end Pettis Norman was incomplete. Fouts, however, rallied the Chargers to 21 fourth-quarter points that included his first NFL touchdown, a 13-yard pass to wide receiver Jerry LeVias. Game Stats: 11 of 21 for 174 yards, 1 TD, 1 Int.; also rushed once for 11 yards…Chargers lost, 38-21.

Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins
Sept. 19, 1983 at Los Angeles Raiders – Marino saw his first action in this Monday Night Football showdown with the Raiders during Week 3. The Raiders dominated Miami and Marino came in relief of David Woodley in the fourth quarter. He guided the team for its final two drives, both of which were capped by his TD passes. Marino connected on his first pass to wide receiver Mark Duper down the left sideline for a 9-yard gain…Game Stats: 11 of 17 for 90 yards, 2 TDs, 0 Int…Dolphins lost, 27-14.

Joe Montana, San Francisco 49ers
Sept. 16, 1979 at Los Angeles Rams – Montana played sparingly during his rookie season. His first NFL pass came during this Week 3 matchup on a fake field goal. Montana, who served as kicker Ray Wersching’s holder, passed eight yards to fullback Phil Francis on fourth-and-one at the Rams 29 for the first down to keep the drive alive…Game Stats: 1 of 1 for 8 yards…49ers lost 27-24.

Joe Namath, New York Jets
Sept. 18, 1965 vs. Kansas City Chiefs – In the second week of the season, Namath took over the reins late in the second quarter. Appropriately, Namath’s first NFL completion went to his Hall of Fame teammate Don Maynard. The duo hooked up on an 18-yard pass play. Midway through the fourth quarter, Namath threw his first TD pass, a 37-yard strike, to Maynard. Game stats: 11 of 23 for 121 yards, 1 TD, 0 Int…Jets lost, 14-10.

Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys
Sept. 21, 1969 vs. St. Louis Cardinals – Staubach earned his lone start of his rookie year when he played in place of injured veteran Craig Morton in the season opener. In the game’s first series, on a 3rd-and-9, Staubach had his first NFL pass dropped by tight end Pettis Norman. Two series later, Staubach and the Cowboys had better success when the rookie QB hooked up with wide receiver Lance Rentzel on a 75-yard TD pass, the first of Staubach’s 153 career touchdowns…Game Stats: 7 of 15 for 220 yards, 1 TD, 0 Int.; also rushed 4 times for 22 yards, 1 TD (3 yards)...Cowboys won, 24-3.