The longest plays of the NFL season

Each year the NFL grows more offensively oriented. That’s reflected in several stats, including long plays.

During the 2019 NFL season, there were 15 plays from scrimmage that gained at least 80 yards. That’s an increase from 12 such plays last season and 10 in 2017. One note: Mecole Hardman’s 104-yard kickoff return was not included on this list, but you can see that play here. 

Here are this season’s 15 longest plays:

Matt Ryan to Olamide Zaccheaus for a 93-yard touchdown

This just goes to show that anyone can become an instant star in the NFL. Zaccheaus caught only three passes in 2019, and two of them came in a meaningless Week 17 matchup.

But against the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 8, Zaccheaus hauled in a 93-yard touchdown for his first NFL catch. It is now the longest pass in Ryan’s career, and it’s the third-longest reception in Falcons history.

Sam Darnold to Robby Anderson for a 92-yard touchdown

Anderson averaged 15.0 yards per catch for the second straight season in 2019, but it was even higher in games where Sam Darnold started at quarterback. In Darnold’s first game back from mono, he found Anderson for a 92-yard touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys.

The score helped the Jets knock off the Cowboys, which turned out to be a game Dallas desperately needed. The Jets went 7-9 but helped keep the Cowboys, Steelers and Raiders out of the playoffs with Anderson scoring in each of those matchups.

Damien Williams’ 91-yard touchdown run

The 27-year-old running back is the only player to pop up on this list twice, and impressively, both plays were on the ground and were two of the seven running plays this season that were at least 80 yards.

Against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 3, Williams recorded the longest run of the season with a 91-yard touchdown. The Chiefs defeated the Vikings, 26-23, in the pivotal matchup for both squads.

Ryan Tannehill to A.J. Brown for a 91-yard touchdown 

The rookie wide receiver was an emerging star even when Marcus Mariota was struggling behind center, but Brown took off when Tannehill became the starter., averaging almost 20.5 yards per catch and posting 778 receiving yards with six touchdowns in just 10 games.

Against the Raiders on Dec. 8, Tannehill and Brown connected for a 91-yard touchdown. Brown posted a season-high 153 receiving yards and two touchdowns in the blowout win.

Baker Mayfield to Odell Beckham Jr. for an 89-yard touchdown

Things didn’t end up working out so well for Beckham in his first season with the Browns. Beckham reached the 1,000-receiving yards mark, but he averaged a career-worst 64.7 yards per game and caught just four touchdowns.

The season started pretty well for Beckham, though, as he hauled in an 89-yard touchdown catch from Mayfield in Week 2 against the Jets. The Browns bounced back from a disappointing Week 1 by beating the Jets, 23-3, on “Monday Night Football,” but the Browns finished with a worse record than last season, at 6-10 in 2019.

Nick Chubb’s 88-yard touchdown run

Cleveland was one of just three teams in 2019 with two different players recording a play from scrimmage of at least 80 yards. Like Beckham’s play, Chubb’s 88-yard touchdown run also came early in the season.

With about 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Chubb rushed for his long score to double Cleveland’s lead over Baltimore to 12. The Browns scored 16 points in the fourth quarter of the Week 4 matchup and won, 40-25.

That was the last time the Ravens lost a game this season.

Kyler Murray to Andy Isabella for an 88-yard touchdown

Strange things have happened when the NFL has played games on Halloween. This year was no different, with the Arizona Cardinals giving the then-undefeated San Francisco 49ers a significant test.

It looked as though the 49ers finally put the Cardinals away in the second half, but Arizona kicked a field goal and then scored quickly with Murray’s 88-yard throw to Isabella to pull within three late in the fourth quarter. San Francisco held on, though, and won, 28-25.

Christian McCaffrey’s 84-yard touchdown run

The third-year running back did just about everything for the Panthers this season, so it’s not surprising to see him on this list. McCaffrey led the league in touches, yards from scrimmage, all-purpose yards and touchdowns while becoming the third player in NFL history with at least 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in a single season.

Against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 6, McCaffrey set a new career-best with an 84-yard touchdown run in the first minute of the second half. The Panthers won by a touchdown.

Damien Williams’ 84-yard touchdown run

The only player to appear twice on the list, Williams capped off his best NFL season with an 84-yard touchdown run against the Chargers in Week 17. The play helped the Chiefs win their 12th game and earn a bye because of a Patriots’ loss in their season finale.

Incredibly, Williams rushed for 498 yards in 2019, and 175 of those yards came on two plays. That certainly helped his yards per carry average.

Philip Rivers to Austin Ekeler for an 84-yard touchdown

The Chargers third-year back wasn’t quite as efficient on the ground as he was in his first two seasons, but his production volume was absolutely incredible. Ekeler rushed for a career-high 557 yards and finished just shy of a couple receiving milestones, with 92 receptions and 993 receiving yards.

He also scored 11 touchdowns. Against the Jaguars, Ekeler took a screen pass from Rivers 84 yards for a score. The Jaguars were one of just two teams that gave up two plays of at least 80 yards in 2019.

Patrick Mahomes to Mecole Hardman for an 83-yard touchdown

Incredibly, the other defense that allowed two plays of 80-plus yards from scrimmage was that of the Baltimore Ravens. Both of them came in the Ravens’ only two losses, in September.

Mahomes found his rookie receiver for an 83-yard score in the second quarter. It was a high scoring affair, but the Ravens couldn’t quite keep up. The Chiefs were the only team in 2019 with three plays of at least 80 yards from scrimmage.

Lamar Jackson to Marquise Brown for an 83-yard touchdown

It’s somewhat surprising that the top scoring offense didn’t have more than one play of at least 80 yards from scrimmage, but that speaks to Baltimore’s offensive style. The Ravens were extremely efficient and ate up chunks of yardage on the ground but rarely exploded for gigantic plays.

In fact, the last time the Ravens posted a play of at least 80 yards was in Week 1. Jackson sent a warning throughout the league with an 83-yard strike to Brown for a touchdown in a 59-10 rout of the Miami Dolphins.

Matt Breida’s 83-yard touchdown run

With the only other 80-plus yard play from “Monday Night Football” this season, Breida gashed the Browns defense for an 83-yard touchdown within the first two minutes of the opening kickoff. Interestingly, that was Breida’s only rushing touchdown of the season. He also scored a receiving touchdown that night but didn’t find the end zone in any other game during 2019.

Breida didn’t post another 100-yard rushing game after that Monday night affair either.

Leonard Fournette’s 81-yard run

Fournette receives the dubious honor of being the only player on this list without a touchdown on his 80-plus yard play. Maybe if he wasn’t running at altitude, he could have reached the end zone, but Fournette simply ran out of gas.

Still, his 81-yard run helped the Jaguars come back to beat the Broncos in Week 4. Fournette rushed for a career-high 225 yards in the win.

Kenyan Drake’s 80-yard touchdown run

The Cardinals were the final team with two players recording a play from scrimmage of at least 80 yards. In a surprising victory against the Seahawks in Week 16, Drake rushed for an 80-yard touchdown.

Drake’s touchdown was the start of 20 straight points for Arizona in the team’s 27-13 win at Seattle. Drake rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

Dave Holcomb began working as a sports writer in 2013 after graduating from Syracuse University. Over the past six years, he has covered the NFL, NHL, MLB, fantasy sports, college football and basketball, and New Jersey high school sports for numerous print and online publications. Follow Holcomb on Twitter at @dmholcomb.

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