Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar, who set an NFL record on Sunday when he extended his streak of consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception to 308, realizes that the mark is something of a fluke. When Eagle cornerback Ben Smith picked off a Kosar pass in the second quarter of Philadelphia's 32-30 victory over Cleveland, it was the first interception thrown by Kosar since Deion Sanders of the Falcons swiped one of his passes on Dec. 16, 1990. But in one game alone during the streak, against the Steelers on Oct. 27, three potential interceptions were dropped.
"To go this long without an interception in the NFL, with all the great defensive talent out there, you've got to have some breaks," says Kosar, whose record surpassed the mark of 294 passes without an interception set by Packer great Bart Starr during the 1964 and '65 seasons. But Kosar's streak hasn't been built entirely by good fortune, either, as a couple of factors indicate.
?New coach Bill Belichick changed the Browns' blocking schemes so that his linemen meet the rush head-on at the line of scrimmage instead of stepping back. Last year Kosar had to fight through lots of traffic in the pocket because the offense called for him to take mostly three-and five-step pass drops, but his linemen continually fell back as if he were taking the standard seven-step drop.
?Belichick has been maniacal in insisting that his 4-6 team not commit turnovers. "For us to be competitive, I just can't afford to make mistakes," Kosar says. "Bill loves when it rains during practice, so we can get used to protecting the ball in bad weather. And last week he had the balls greased for practice, so we'd concentrate on being careful with the ball." Cleveland has the fewest turnovers in the NFL this season.
To measure the statistical significance of Kosar's streak, SI calculated the average 308-pass performance of one top quarterback in each of the past five decades. Here are those numbers and Kosar's interceptions per 308 passes thrown during his career.