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NFL Passing Yardage Leaders By Year—1970s

Updated on March 13, 2008

Dan Fouts

Fran Tarkenton

Joe Namath


In 1979, San Diego quarterback Dan Fouts began a run of four straight seasons that he led the NFL in passing yardage. But eight different QBs led the league in passing before Fouts in the ‘70's, with Cincinnati's Ken Anderson the only repeat leader. Here is a complete list of those leaders in the decade:

1979-Dan Fouts, San Diego Chargers (4082)

In 1979, Dan Fouts was in the prime of his career playing in offensive-minded San Diego. That season, Fouts completed 332 of 530 passes for a league-high 4082 yards with 24 touchdowns as well as 24 interceptions. Fouts would go on to lead the league in passing yards three more seasons in a row.

1978-Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings (3468)

Fran Tarkenton played for 18 seasons in the NFL, but it wasn't until his final year in the league, 1978, that he led the league in passing yards. Tarkenton completed 345 of 572 passes for a league-high 3468 yards with 25 TDs and 32 interceptions. The 32 interceptions is actually fourth-highest for a single season in NFL history.

1977-Joe Ferguson, Buffalo Bills (2803)

Joe Ferguson was a steady quarterback who played in small-market Buffalo for most of his career. 1977 wasn't his best season, but it was the one year that Ferguson led the NFL in passing yards with 2803. Ferguson completed 221 of 457 passes that year with 12 TDs and 24 interceptions.

1976-Bert Jones, Baltimore Colts (3104)

Bert Jones played most of his ten-year career with the Baltimore Colts, and in 1976 he led the league in passing with 3104 yards on 207 of 343 passing. Jones had 24 touchdown passes with just 9 interceptions.

1975-Ken Anderson, Cincinnati Bengals (3169)

QB Ken Anderson played his entire 16-year career with the Bengals, from 1971 to 1986. And while he was pretty consistent throughout his career, Anderson's best seasons were early on, as he led the NFL in passing yards in both 1974 and 1975. In '75, Anderson completed 228 of 377 passes for 3169 yards with 21 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

1974-Ken Anderson, Cincinnati Bengals (2667)

Ken Anderson led the NFL in passing two straight years, and 1974 was the first of those two. Anderson was 213 of 328 for 2667 yards with 18 TDs and 10 interceptions.

1973-Roman Gabriel, Philadelphia Eagles (3219)

Roman Gabriel put up some great numbers in his career, but 1973 was the only time he led the NFL in passing, with 3219 yards on 270 of 460 attempts. Gabriel also led the league in TD passes with 23, and had 12 passes intercepted.

1972-Joe Namath, New York Jets (2816)

While he was wildly successful his first few seasons in the league, Joe Namath only played 9 games combined in both 1970 and 1971, then came back and had a huge year in 1972. Namath led the NFL in passing that season with 2816 yards and 19 TDs (also an NFL high) on 162 of 324 passing, with 21 interceptions.

1971-John Hadl, San Diego Chargers (3075)

San Diego's John Hadl had some great seasons in the ‘60's and that carried over into the early part of the ‘70's. In 1971, Hadl led the NFL in passing yards (3075) and TD passes (21). He completed 233 of 431 passes and had 21 interceptions.

1970-John Brodie, San Francisco 49ers (2941)

In 1970, John Brodie was 35 and nearing the end of a great NFL career. That season, Brodie completed 223 of 378 passes for a league high 2941 yards. He also led the NFL in TD passes with 24, and had just 10 interceptions.


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