Marshall & Decker do it again, tying NFL record
Ryan Fitzpatrick threw first-half touchdown passes to Eric Decker, Bilal Powell, and Brandon Marshall in the Jets’ 30-8 win over the Titans. It was the seventh game this season in which both Decker and Marshall caught a TD pass. That ties the highest single-season total by any teammates in NFL history. That mark was set by Cris Carter and Randy Moss of the Vikings in 1998. The previous franchise record was five by Don Maynard and Art Powell in 1960, the team’s first season of operation when the team was known as the Titans.
Marcus Mariota earned a remarkable distinction in an otherwise unremarkable game. Mariota caught a 41-yard pass from running back Antonio Andrews, thus becoming the first player since Marcus Allen in 1982, and only the fifth in the last 70 years, with a pass completion, a running play, and a reception each for 40 yards or longer in his rookie season. And what a group that is. Besides Allen, it includes Charlie Trippi (1947), Glenn Davis (1950), and Charley Taylor (1964). All are Hall of Famers except Davis, who along with Allen-and like Mariota himself-was a Heisman Trophy winner.
William Gay returned an AJ McCarron pass 23 yards for a touchdown in the Steelers’ 33-20 win at Cincinnati. Gay has scored a TD on each of his last five interceptions, to establish a new NFL record. Three other players returned each of four consecutive interceptions for scores: Tedy Bruschi (2002-03), Charles Tillman(2012), and Captain Munnerlyn (2012-13). Gay also tied Rod Woodson’s team record of five pick-6’s in his career.
For the second time in three games, Russell Wilson threw five touchdown passes as the Seahawks routed the Ravens, 35-6. Over his last four games, Wilson has thrown 16 TDs passes without being intercepted. Five other NFL players threw as many as 16 touchdowns over a span of four games: Dan Marino (1984), Peyton Manning (2004 and 2013), Tom Brady (2007 and 2014), Drew Brees (2011-12), and Aaron Rodgers (2012). But only Manning and Brady did so without an interception during their four-game run.
Doug Baldwin has caught eight TD passes in his last three games. Jerry Rice did that twice, in 1987 and 1993, but only Baldwin and Drew Bennett (2004) have done so since then.
Todd Gurley gained 140 yards on 16 carries in the Rams’ 21-14 win over the Lions. It was Gurley’s fifth 100-yard game this season, and none was close; he exceeded 125 rushing yards in each of those games. That ties the second-highest total of games with at least 125 rushing yards by a rookie. The record is seven, by Eric Dickerson (1983).
Panthers’ fast start fuels blowout victory
Anyone who thought the Panthers might ease off the accelerator with their division clinched learned quickly on Sunday that wouldn’t be the case, as Carolina scored three first-quarter touchdowns and rolled to a 38-0 win over the Falcons. It was only the third time in team history that Carolina scored a TD on each of its first three drives of a game. For those who are aware of the Panthers’ perennial late-season success, it will come as no surprise that both of the other such games also came in the month of December-in 2008 against the Giants and 2012 against the Chargers. Carolina has won 14 of its last 15 December games.
Raiders’ Mack goes where even J.J. Watt hasn’t been
Khalil Mack sacked Brock Osweiler five times in the Raiders’ 15-12 win at Denver. Mack was credited with two sacks in each of his two previous games, and he became only the fifth player to record as many as nine sacks over a span of three games-a list so select that it doesn’t even include J.J. Watt. The others, listed chronologically, were Richard Dent in 1984 (10), Reggie White in 1986 (9), Derrick Thomas in 1997-98 (10), and Aldon Smith in 2012 (9.5). Sacks have been compiled for individual players since 1982.
Mack’s performance was a key to the Raiders winning a game in which their offense accumulated just 126 yards. That was the lowest yardage total by a winning team in any NFL game in the last six seasons.
Eddie Lacy ran for 124 yards and James Starks for 71 in the Packers’ 28-7 victory over the Cowboys. Green Bay’s total of 230 rushing yards was its highest in a regular-season game since 2004 (although the Packers rushed for 235 yards in a playoff win over the Seahawks eight seasons ago). That snapped the longest current streak of games without rushing for 200 yards in the NFL and the longest in the team’s history (102 games).
LeSean McCoy gained 74 yards on 20 carries in the Bills’ 23-20 loss at Philadelphia. It was McCoy’s first game against the Eagles, the team for which he gained 6792 rushing yards over six seasons (2009-14). McCoy’s rushing-yards total on Sunday was the highest in a player’s first game against a team for which he gained at least 5000 rushing yards since 2004, when Corey Dillon ran for 88 yards against the Bengals.
The standard for such games was set by Marshall Faulk in 2001, when he rushed for 118 yards and three touchdowns and also caught a TD pass as the Rams clinched the NFC West title with a 42-17 win in his return game against Indianapolis.
Philadelphia sealed its victory over Buffalo when Ed Reynolds intercepted Tyrod Taylor with less than 90 seconds to play. Taylor hadn’t thrown an INT in his previous 222 passes, the longest such streak in Bills history.
Chiefs shut down Chargers twice this season
The Chiefs defeated the Chargers, 10-3, three weeks after posting a 33-3 victory at San Diego. Kansas City is the first team to hold the same opponent to three or fewer points twice in the same season since 2009, when Baltimore defeated Cleveland by scores of 34-3 and 16-0. The Chiefs hadn’t done so since 1967, when they shut out the Dolphins twice in their first four games of the season. That Kansas City team had four future Hall of Famers on defense: Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, Willie Lanier, and Emmitt Thomas.
Jaguars erupt for 51 points in win over Colts
Jacksonville scored only three points in the first 28 minutes on Sunday, but finished with the highest-scoring regular-season game in team history, defeating Indianapolis, 51-16. That leaves Houston and Tampa Bay as the only current NFL teams that have never scored at least 50 points in a game. Of course, the Jaguars routed the Dolphins, 62-7, in a playoff game 16 seasons ago.
Sunday’s game was the fourth in the last five seasons in which the Colts allowed at least 50 points, following blowout losses to the Saints in 2011 (62-7), Patriots in 2012 (59-24), and Steelers in 2014 (51-34).
Browns’ pass rush devastates Gabbert & Niners
Johnny Football grabbed most of the headlines in the Browns’ 24-10 win over the 49ers, but not here. It was Cleveland’s pass rush that deserved top billing with nine sacks of Niners quarterback Blaine Gabbert. That was the highest single-game sack total in the NFL this season and it was the Browns’ highest since 1993, during Bill Belichick’s tenure as head coach. In a victory over New Orleans, six different Browns players accounted for their total of nine sacks of Saints quarterback Wade Wilson.
Washington finally wins a road game at its “home away from home”
The Redskins earned their first road win of the season with a 24-21 victory at Soldier Field, which was a logical place for Washington’s breakthrough. Over the last 25 seasons, the Bears’ longtime home field is the only venue at which the Redskins have a record at least four games above .500, and that includes their own stadiums. Since the 1991 season, Washington is 5-1 at Soldier Field, compared to 74-76-1 at FedExField and 25-23 at RFK Stadium, its prior home.