Mike White is a folk hero in New York after leading the New York Jets to an emphatic comeback victory over the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday -- in his first career start. White became the first quarterback since Steve Young in 1985 to lead a team down double digits with five minutes to play to a win in his first career start.
The Jets trailed the Bengals, 31-20, with five minutes to play before White's late-game heroics led them to just their second victory of the year, against a first-place team in the process. White finished the game completing 37 of 45 passes for 405 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions (107.9 rating) -- becoming the first Jets quarterback to throw for 400 yards in a game since Vinny Testaverde in 2000.
What White was able to accomplish Sunday in his first start was unprecedented by any quarterback. In this week's "By The Numbers," we'll compare White's first start among the best in NFL history.
Most passing yards -- first career start
- Cam Newton (2011) -- 422
- Mike White (2021) -- 405
- Kevin Kolb (2009) -- 391
- Vinny Testaverde (1987) -- 369
- Browning Nagle (1992) -- 366
Most passes completed -- first career start
- Mike White (2021) -- 37
- Taylor Heinicke (2018) -- 33
- Gary Hogeboom (1984) -- 33
- Sam Bradford (2010) -- 32
- Kevin Kolb (2009) -- 31
Highest completion percentage -- first career start
- Mike White (2021) -- 82.22%
- Stan Humphries (1990) -- 80%
- Sam Wyche (1968) -- 80%
- Trent Edwards (2007) -- 78.57%
- Blake Bortles (2014) -- 78.38%
*Minimum 25 attempts
White's historic first start didn't go unnoticed in the record books. He became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300 yards and complete at least 75% of his passes in his first start along with the first quarterback to throw for 400 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start. White became only the sixth quarterback in Jets history to throw for 400 yards in a game, joining Joe Namath, Vinny Testaverde, Ken O'Brien, Richard Todd, and Glenn Foley.
The Jets had lost 40 straight games in which they trailed by double digits with five minutes remaining before White led the comeback, showcasing his ability to perform in the clutch. They were the first team this season to win a game when trailing by double digits with five minutes left (NFL teams are 1-72 this year in those scenarios).
New York had 32 first downs in the win -- the most for the franchise since 1988. The 414 passing yards were the most by the franchise since 2000 and the 511 total yards were the most since 2018. The Jets scored 30 points in a game for the first time since Week 12 of the 2019 season, ending the league's longest streak without scoring 30 points (27 games).
What does White have in store for an encore? The expectations are high, especially if he wants to rank among the best after two starts.
Most passing yards -- first two starts
- Cam Newton (2011) -- 854
- Matt Flynn (2010, 2011) -- 731
- Kevin Kolb (2009) -- 718
- Kirk Cousins (2012, 2013) -- 710
- Kyler Murray (2019) -- 657
Most passing completions -- first two starts
- Taylor Heinicke (2018, 2021) -- 67
- Billy Volek (2004) -- 65
- Joe Burrow (2020) -- 60
- Justin Herbert (2020) -- 57
- Todd Marinovich (1991, 1992) -- 56
Highest completion percentage -- first two starts
- Chad Pennington (2002) -- 79.31%
- Trent Edwards (2007) -- 76.27%
- Brett Favre (1992) -- 75.81%
- Tyrod Taylor (2015) -- 74.98%
- Mac Jones (2021) -- 73.91%
*Minimum 50 attempts
White has a tall task heading into his second career start -- on a short week no less. Of the four previous quarterbacks to throw for 350 yards in their 1st start, only Kevin Kolb threw for over 300 yards in his second start -- and won the game. Browning Nagle was the last Jets quarterback to throw for 350 yards in his first start (1992), following up that performance with just 117 pass yards and an interception the next week.
What White accomplished is uncommon in NFL history, but hard to replicate. He needs 31 completions to pass Heinicke for the most in NFL history after two starts and needs 450 yards to pass Newton for the most passing yards after his second start. Accomplishing both is unlikely to happen, but that's the territory White put himself in with his exciting debut.
Matt Flynn has the most touchdown passes after his first two starts (9), while only six players have thrown for six touchdowns in their first two starts -- including Dan Marino and Kurt Warner. Kyle Allen has a 133.3 passer rating after two starts, which is the highest in NFL history (minimum 50 attempts).
Accomplishing the numbers White reached in his first start Thursday night will be very difficult -- and he's more likely to drop back to the median rather than the exception. To see what White does for an encore makes his second start intriguing -- in the national spotlight.
The Jets won't know if White is a franchise quarterback after two starts, regardless how he performs. White was still able to provide the franchise one of the biggest upsets in its history, with a performance unmatched by any quarterback in his first career start.