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Monday, December 19, 2011
Where NFC West stands in 300-yard games

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

As if additional evidence was needed to validate the NFL as a pass-oriented league, the 2011 season has already produced more individual 300-yard passing games than any other -- with two weeks left to play.

The chart, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, breaks down the totals.

With Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Tom Brady and others regularly throwing for 300-plus yards, teams aren't just passing out of necessity. But NFC West quarterbacks have produced only seven of the 105 games referenced in the chart.

The Seattle Seahawks have tried to build their offense around a strong running game. They were out of their comfort zone when Tarvaris Jackson passed for 319 yards against Atlanta and for 323 yards against Cincinnati.

The St. Louis Rams lost both games when Sam Bradford posted his highest yardage totals (331 at the New York Giants and 328 at the Green Bay Packers). The team wanted to build around Bradford, but the offense never gained much traction.

John Skelton's 313-yard performance for Arizona against Cleveland was the latest 300-yard game in the NFC West. It was Skelton's second of the season and the Cardinals' third. They're 3-0 in those games, but the rest of the NFC West is 0-4.

The San Francisco 49ers won the division title without producing a 300-yard passer. Alex Smith came closest when he had 291 yards during a comeback victory over Philadelphia. The team has generally sought to win with defense, special teams, limiting risks and a strong running game.

Smith has two career 300-yard games, against Philadelphia last season and Seattle in 2009. The 49ers are 7-1 when he passes for 230-274 yards. They are 2-6 when he passes for 254 or more.