Steelers Terry Bradshaw had NFL’s worst single-season passer rating

Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Ross Lewis/Getty Images)
Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Ross Lewis/Getty Images) /

Terry Bradshaw was a terrific player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he had a historically bad start to his NFL career. 

Today, Terry Bradshaw is talked about as one of the greatest Pittsburgh Steelers players of all time. The former three-time Pro Bowl and one-time All-Pro quarterback is considered one of the greatest players of his generation and has a Hall of Fame status attached to his name.

However, it wasn’t always like that. In fact, Bradshaw still holds one very particular record – a record that I’m sure he’s not very proud of. The former Steelers star quarterback still has the worst single-season passer rating in NFL history.

This statistic was among quarterbacks who threw at least 200 passes in a season. Though Bradshaw was a former first-round pick, he didn’t exactly get off to an electrifying start in Pittsburgh. During his first NFL season in 1970, Bradshaw played in 13 games (starting 8 of them) and attempted 218 passes. Unfortunately, the results were less than desirable.

Terry Bradshaw’s rookie season for Steelers was… not good

Bradshaw completed just 83 passes for a dismal completion percentage of just 38.1percent. In addition, the Hall of Fame quarterback threw for just 1,410 yards with adjusted yards per attempt of just 2.1, according to Pro Football Reference. On top of this, Bradshaw threw just 6 touchdown passes with a whopping 24 interceptions.

All of this equated to an NFL record-low 30.4 passer rating (please let that sink in).

Allow me to put this in perspective for you. Sam Darnold had the lowest passer rating in the NFL last year with a 72.7. The worst passer rating of Ben Roethlisberger’s career was 75.4 back in 2006, and Tom Brady has never had a season under 85.7 in his 21-year NFL career.

This is what is most remarkable: If Terry Bradshaw would have spiked the ball into the dirt on all 2018 of his pass attempts in 1970, he would have earned a 39.6 passer rating – 9.2 points higher than he earned as a rookie.

Bradshaw, fortunately, got better

Luckily, the former first overall pick did turn things around in the NFL, but his production was never fantastic. In his first two NFL seasons, Bradshaw combined to throw for 19 touchdowns and 46 interceptions. In fact, the Steelers quarterback would not throw more touchdowns than interceptions until his Pro Bowl season in 1975 – 6 years into his NFL career.

However, thanks to his improvement later in his career, Terry Bradshaw was able to make his past a forgotten memory and turn a new leaf with the team. His best passer rating came in the 1975 season when he threw for 18 touchdowns and 9 interceptions while averaging 7.2 yards per attempt for an 88.0 passer rating.

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Eventually, Bradshaw would help lead his team to 4 Super Bowl victories en route to earning a gold jacket and Hall of Fame honors in 1989. The former Steelers star had a very respectable career, but his rookie season was one of the worst statistical performances of all time.