Few things are more deflating than watching a quarterback you’re rooting for throw an interception.

The team is driving down the field, everything is going well, and then, in an instant, the possession and possibility of points are over in a flash.

Not all high-interception seasons are bad ones, as quarterbacks can make up for the turnovers in other ways. But for the players with the most interceptions in a single season, it became almost impossible to overcome.

Below are the players who threw the most picks in one year, and, while several of them were good quarterbacks, we’d imagine these years were not their favorites.

It’s a list that makes it seem even more impressive that the most interceptions Tom Brady ever threw in a season was 14.

42 George Blanda, Houston Oilers (1962)

The proof that talented players can throw a lot of interceptions is right at the top of the rankings, as the Hall of Famer threw an NFL-record 42 picks in 1962. That’s seven more than anyone else has in a season.

Blanda was coming off winning AFL Player of the Year in 1961 when he threw “only” 22 interceptions and led the league with 36 touchdown passes.

That interception total nearly doubled the following year, but the Oilers still managed to go 11-3 and make the AFL title game. Unfortunately, Blanda’s penchant for throwing interceptions reared its ugly head again, as he threw five in the title game as the Oilers lost 20-17 to the Dallas Texans in overtime.

35 Vinny Testaverde, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1988)

Testaverde is the only player since 1980 to throw more than 30 interceptions in an NFL season, and he sits comfortably ahead of that with 35.

Unlike Blanda, Testaverde’s team did not have much success, as the Buccaneers went 5-11 that season and Testaverde only threw 13 touchdowns to go with his 35 picks.

The 35-interception season was an outlier, as Testaverde never threw more than 25 in another season. However, he did lead the league in interceptions four times. He was also a very good quarterback despite the occasion interception, throwing for 275 touchdowns in his 21-year career and making the Pro Bowl twice.

34 Frank Tripucka, Denver Broncos (1960)

The American Football League started in 1960 (not counting the leagues started earlier with the same name) and with it came 14-game seasons. This was more than the NFL’s 12-game season, and the NFL adjusted to 14 games in 1961.

With those two extra games came extra pass attempts, and with those extra attempts came a lot of records. Tripucka set the record nobody wanted, with 34 interceptions in his 14 games.

He wasn’t the most interception-prone quarterback in history to that point by rate stats, as several quarterbacks had an interception rate higher than Tripucka’s 7.1%. But the two extra games combined with a lot of passing for the Broncos offense compared to other AFL teams meant Tripucka threw the ball 72 more times that year than any quarterback had in a season until that point.

He had the dubious honor of most interceptions in a season for two years until Blanda came along.  

32 John Hadl, San Diego Chargers (1968)

Every quarterback on this list had a good career, and Hadl is no exception. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and finished runner-up for the MVP in 1973.

He even made the Pro Bowl in 1968, when he threw 32 interceptions, because he also led the league in touchdown passes with 27 and passing yards with 3,473. The Chargers had a 9-5 record, and it was the last winning season there for Hadl before he left to quarterback the Los Angeles Rams in 1973.

32 Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota Vikings (1978)

Speaking of talented quarterbacks, the legendary Fran Tarkenton makes the list as well, matching the 32 interceptions Hadl threw.

This was the end of the road for Tarkenton, who played the last of his 18 seasons in 1978, and he went out slinging. In addition to interceptions, Tarkenton set a career-high in attempts, completions and yards that season while leading the league in all four categories. Of course, the career-high stats were partly because of the added games to the schedule, as 1978 was when the NFL went to 16-game seasons. But it was still his third-highest season in yards per game. Though he wasn’t at his most efficient and obviously threw a lot of interceptions, it was a fitting swan song for the Hall of Fame QB.

most interceptions in a season

The Rest of the List

  • 31 – Sid Luckman, Chicago Bears (1947)
  • 30 – George Blanda, Houston Oilers (1965)
  • 30 – Al Dorow, New York Titans (1961) 
  • 30 – Jim Hart, St. Louis Cardinals (1967)
  • 30 – Ken Stabler, Oakland Raiders (1978)
  • 30 – Richard Todd, New York Jets (1980)
  • 30 – Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2019) 
  • 29 – Lynn Dickey, Green Bay Packers (1983)
  • 29 – Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers (2005)
  • 28 – Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts (1998) 
  • 28 – Joe Namath, New York Jets (1967)
  • 28 – Joe Namath, New York Jets (1975)
  • 28 – Ken Stabler, Houston Oilers (1980)
  • 28 – Y.A. Tittle, San Francisco 49ers (1955)
  • 27 – George Blanda, Houston Oilers (1964)
  • 27 – Drew Bledsoe, New England Patriots (1994)
  • 27 – Eli Manning, New York Giants (2013)
  • 27 – Joe Namath, New York Jets (1966)
  • 27 – Babe Parilli, Boston Patriots (1964)
  • 27 – Bud Schwenk, Chicago Cardinals
  • 27 – Norm Snead, Washington (1963)
  • 27 – Jim Zorn, Seattle Seahawks (1976)

Obviously, a higher premium has been placed on ball security in recent NFL history, and there aren’t many modern quarterbacks high on the all-time single-season interception list.

Below are the most interceptions in a season since 2000.

30 Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2019)

Winston’s 2019 season was something of an anomaly in recent NFL history, as teams do everything they can not to throw interceptions anymore. In fact, no quarterback from 2020 onward has thrown more than 17 interceptions in a season.

Winston also led the league in passing yards and attempts that season, but it wasn’t enough to save his starting job. The Buccaneers went 7-9 and decided to go in a different direction the following season, ending Winston’s tenure with the team that drafted him first overall in 2015.

29 Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers (2005)

It stands to reason that the career leader in interceptions would have a season on this list, and that season was 2005, a down year for the Packers. The team finished 4-12 in the NFC, the worst season of Favre’s tenure and his 29 interceptions were five more than he threw in any other year.

 There was speculation after the season that the Packers might turn to 2005 draftee Aaron Rodgers, but Favre would hang on for two more seasons in Green Bay, culminating in a 13-3 season in which he finished runner-up for the MVP in 2007. He would go on to play a season for the Jets and two for the Vikings before retiring for good following the 2010 season.

27 Eli Manning, New York Giants (2013)

Just a couple seasons removed from an improbable second Super Bowl victory, 2013 wasn’t as smooth a ride for Manning.

He led the league in interceptions for the third time with a career-high 27 and only threw 18 touchdown passes, his lowest total in any season in which he played double digit games.

Manning would be the starter for five more seasons for the Giants and didn’t throw more than 16 interceptions in any of those seasons. He also led the Giants to an 11-5 record in 2016, his age-35 season. He had a lot of highlights in his storied Giants career, but 2013 was arguably his worst seasons statistically.

26 Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears (2009)

When the Bears traded for Cutler prior the 2009 season, they were hoping to get the franchise quarterback that had long eluded the team. Cutler was coming off his only Pro Bowl season in Denver in 2008 and was thought to be a quarterback on the rise.

The Cutler era didn’t get off to the best start, as Cutler led the league in interceptions in his first season with Chicago and the team went 7-9. The Bears did have some success with Cutler the next three years, though, as he amassed a 27-13 record from 2010-2012. He would lead the league in interceptions again in 2014 with 18.

25 Vinny Testaverde, New York Jets (2000)

Testaverde threw 35 picks in his first full season as a starter, and was still prone to the interception 12 years later when he threw an admittedly much lower 25.

This was a byproduct of volume, though, as Testaverde had six other seasons where he had a higher interception rate and played double digit games. But he threw a career-high 590 passes in 2000, leading to his second-highest interception total for a season.

25 Eli Manning, New York Giants (2010)

Three years before he threw 27 interceptions, Manning led the league in interceptions with 25. However, he also had 31 touchdown passes and the team had much more success, going 10-6. They did miss out of the playoffs, though, due to a tiebreaker with the Packers.

most interceptions since 2000

The Rest of the List Since 2000

  • 24 – Trent Green, Kansas City Chiefs (2001)
  • 23 – Daunte Culpepper, Minnesota Vikings (2002)
  • 23 – Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo Bills (2011)
  • 23 – Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts (2001)
  • 23 – Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers (2006)
  • 22 – Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (2010)
  • 22 – Aaron Brooks, New Orleans Saints (2001)
  • 22 – Marc Bulger, St. Louis Rams (2003)
  • 22 – Brett Favre, New York Jets (2008)
  • 22 – Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens (2013)
  • 22 – Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2011)
  • 22 – Joey Harrington, Detroit Lions (2003)
  • 22 – Jon Kitna, Detroit Lions (2006)
  • 22 – Jon Kitna, Cincinnati Bengals (2001)
  • 22 – DeShone Kizer, Cleveland Browns (2017)
  • 22 – Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals (2013)
  • 22 – Kurt Warner, St. Louis Rams (2001)

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