Weekend Update: #NFL wk15 – United Stats of America

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Before we throw at you all the stats from Sunday’s football games – here are all the David Johnson highlights from last night because, Holy Cow was that kid a one man wrecking crew! (h/t Elias Sports Bureau)

NFL – Panthers stay perfect in dramatic fashion

Despite blowing a 28-point lead in the second half, the Panthers remained undefeated on the season after defeating the Giants, 38-35. Graham Gano kicked a 43-yard field goal on the last play of the fourth quarter to preserve Carolina’s streak. The only other players in NFL history to help their teams extend a season-opening winning streak of 10-plus games with a game-ending scoring play were Garrett Hartley (2009 Saints) and Mason Crosby (2011 Packers). Both Hartley and Crosby kicked game-ending field goals to lift their teams’ records to 12-0.

NFL – Newton strengthens MVP case with superhuman effort

Cam Newton was the star as always for Carolina – the MVP candidate threw five touchdown passes while also leading the team with 100 rushing yards. Newton is the first player in NFL history to pass for five or more touchdowns while producing at least 100 rushing yards in the same game. Previously, no player had run for even 50 yards in a 5-TD game.

With the victory, Newton improved to 17-3 in December in his NFL career. Only two other active quarterbacks won at least 17 of their first 20 starts in December – Philip Rivers won 19 of his first 20 such starts for the Chargers, and Tom Brady went 17-3 through 20 December starts for New England.

NFL – Historic day for Bridgewater

Teddy Bridgewater threw four touchdown passes – one in each quarter – for the Vikings against the Bears and ran for another score early in the fourth quarter in Minnesota’s 38-17 victory at TCF Bank Stadium. Bridgewater’s performance versus Chicago calls to mind the very first game ever played by the Vikings in the NFL. On Sept. 17, 1961, Fran Tarkenton threw four TD passes and ran for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to lead the Vikings to victory at home against the Bears (sound familiar yet?). Bridgewater and Tarkenton are the only two quarterbacks with a “4-and-1” game in franchise history.

Bridgewater, who completed 17 of his 20 passes, also became just the second player in NFL history to run for a touchdown and throw for four or more TDs while completing at least 85 percent of his passes. In the Browns’ final game of the 1964 regular season, Frank Ryan completed 12 of 13 passes (good for 92 percent), throwing for five touchdowns and running for another against the Giants.

NFL – Steelers throw everything into comeback win

Ben Roethlisberger completed a season-high 40 passes in leading Pittsburgh to a 34-27 comeback victory over the Broncos. Antonio Brown was the main target for Roethlisberger, leading the team with 16 receptions, 189 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Brown, who caught 17 passes in a win over the Raiders on November 8, became the first player in NFL history with two games of 15-or-more receptions within a single season.

Besides Brown, only four Steelers players caught passes on Sunday – Martavis Bryant (10),Markus Wheaton (six), DeAngelo Williams (five), and Heath Miller (three). The Steelers’ victory marked the first time since 1933 – when the NFL first tracked receiving statistics for individual players – that a team had 40 or more receptions in a game with no more than five players catching a pass. Tom Brady and the Patriots had the previous high – Brady completed 38 passes to five receivers in Week 12 of last season against the Lions.

NFL – McCarron’s first win is a clincher for Bengals

The Bengals clinched a spot in the postseason on Sunday after defeating the 49ers, 24-14. AJ McCarron was efficient in his first NFL start, completing 15 of 21 passes including a touchdown in the second quarter. That helped Cincinnati overcome a weak running performance – the Bengals gained 68 yards on 36 carries, an average of just 1.9 yards per rush. In the last 20 years, only one other quarterback earned a win in his first NFL start despite his team averaging less than two yards per rush. Max Hall led the Cardinals to victory over the Saints in his first start in 2010 to make up for a sub-par rushing attack (1.7 yards per run). Arizona was aided that day by three field goals by Jay Feely and two defensive touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

NFL – Cousins heroic at home

Kirk Cousins completed 22 passes – including four touchdowns – for 319 yards in the Redskins’ 35-25 victory over the Bills. If only Washington had more home games – Cousins led the Redskins to a 6-2 record at FedExField this season, and his passing numbers at home (2170 yards, 16 TDs, 2 INTs, 117.0 rating) are much better than his road numbers (1455 yards, 6 TDs, 9 INTs, 74.6 rating). Cousins now owns the franchise single-season records for most passing yards at home, surpassing Jay Schroeder, who passed for 2111 yards at home in 1986. Cousins’s completion percentage at home (74.7 percent) is the highest single-season mark in home games in NFL history by a player who threw at least 75 passes at home.

NFL – Brady, Patriots post 12th win

The Patriots stayed atop the AFC standings by defeating the Titans, 33-16. New England, which improved to 12-2, has won at least 12 games in each of the last six seasons. Bill Belichick is the second head coach in NFL history to win at least 12 games in six consecutive seasons, joining Tony Dungy, who had 12 or more wins in each of his last six seasons with the Colts from 2003 to 2008.

Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in the Patriots’ win, bringing to 201 his total of touchdown passes at Foxborough Stadium. The only other player to throw at least 200 TD passes in one stadium was Brett Favre, who finished with 214 touchdown passes at Lambeau Field.

NFL – Perfect 10 for Baldwin

Tis the season for Doug Baldwin – the Seahawks wideout scored two more touchdowns on Sunday, helping Seattle defeat Cleveland and extend the Seahawks’ winning streak to five games. Baldwin has caught multiple touchdown receptions in each of his last four games – three versus the Steelers in Week 12, two at Minnesota Week 13, three at Baltimore last week, and two on Sunday against the Browns. Baldwin’s 10 TD receptions are tied for the most in NFL history in a four-game span. That mark was set by Bob Shaw in 1949 (L.A. Rams) and 1950 (Chicago Cardinals), and matched by Art Powell of the Raiders (1963-64) and Jerry Rice (1987).

NFL – Johnson runs wild over Eagles

Cardinals rookie David Johnson scored rushing touchdowns in each of the first three quarters of Arizona’s blowout victory over the Eagles. Johnson, who finished with 187 yards on the ground, is the first player – rookie or veteran – in Cardinals history to total at least three rushing touchdowns and 180 rushing yards in a single game. The 187 yards by Johnson are the most by any Cardinals rookie in a game since Ottis Anderson ran for 193 yards in his NFL debut in 1979. That was Anderson’s highest yards total in any one game of his 14-year NFL career.

NFL – Jones all over Falcons record books

Julio Jones caught nine passes for 118 yards and scored his first touchdown in six games to help the Falcons snap their six-game losing streak in a win over the Jaguars. Jones, who leads the NFL with 118 receptions and ranks second behind Antonio Brown with 1544 receiving yards, is now the franchise leader for most receptions in a single season. Roddy White held the previous record for Atlanta, having caught 115 passes in the 2010 season. Jones, who established a Falcons single-season record with 1593 receiving yards last season, is one of three players in NFL history to produce 100 receptions and 1500 receiving yards in back-to-back seasons. The other two to do so: Marvin Harrison (2001-02) and Andre Johnson (2008-09).

NFL – Defense shines for Chiefs

The Chiefs defense scored as many touchdowns as the offense in their 34-14 victory over the Ravens. Tyvon Branch returned a fumble 73 yards for a score in the first quarter, and Marcus Peters brought back an interception 90 yards to cap the scoring in the fourth quarter. The last team to score touchdowns on a fumble return and an interception return, each of 70-plus yards, in the same game was the Steelers; they had a 77-yard fumble-return TD and an 82-yard interception-return TD in the fourth quarter of a victory over the Vikings in October 2009.

NFL – K.C. extends fourth-quarter shutout streak

The Chiefs, who allowed 77 total points in the fourth quarter through their first nine games of the season, have not allowed a single point in the fourth quarter in their last five games. That’s the longest streak of that kind this season and the second-longest streak for the Chiefs in franchise history. Kansas City shut out its opponent in the fourth quarter in six straight games to close the 1968 season.

NFL – Weeden leads comeback win for Texans

After T.J. Yates left with an injury, Brandon Weeden completed 11 of 18 passes in relief, including a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter to give the Texans a 16-10 victory over the Colts. Weeden is the first quarterback in just over three years to come off the bench in his first game for a team and throw a go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. The last to do that was Greg McElroy, who relieved Mark Sanchez and completed a one-yard pass for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Jets’ 7-6 victory over the Cardinals in December 2012.

NFL – Houston snaps schneid in Indy

The win for the Texans was their first ever in Indianapolis – Houston had been 0-13 in road games against the Colts entering play on Sunday. Hopefully, the Vikings coaching staff took some notes, as Minnesota is still winless in Indianapolis (0-10). The Vikings’ mark at Indy now stands as the biggest current “0-fer” in road games for one franchise against another.

NFL – Huge day for Woodhead

Danny Woodhead became the first player this season to score four touchdowns in a game in the Chargers’ 30-14 victory over the Dolphins. Woodhead scored all four of San Diego’s touchdowns – three on passes from Philip Rivers and one on a two-yard run. The last time that a team had four or more touchdowns in a game that were all scored by a single player was Week 16 of the 2008 season – DeAngelo Williams scored all four of the Panthers’ touchdowns in a road loss against the Giants. The last Chargers player prior to Woodhead with such a game was LaDainian Tomlinson, who had two games of that kind for San Diego (2005 and 2007).

Woodhead, who turned 30 years old in January, is the oldest player to score four touchdowns in an NFL game since Terrell Owens scored four while with the Cowboys against the Redskins in 2007, just 19 days before his 34th birthday.

NFL – Peppers climbing all-time sacks list

Julius Peppers had 2½ sacks against Derek Carr in the Packers’ 30-20 victory in Oakland, and they were big ones for him. Peppers now has 135 sacks for his career, and moved into the top ten in that category since the NFL began recording sacks for defensive players in 1982. He nudged John Abraham and DeMarcus Ware, who had been tied for 10th place at 133½, out of the top ten.

Source: Stats from the Elias Sports Bureau

#NFL Weekend Update: 9 Things We Need To Know on Monday

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It’s was a strange weekend, from undefeated teams going down, to threats at WWE in Atlanta to the Mafia telling ISIS, NYC is their turf and to stay away – it all leaves us with more questions then answers and first off, is this:  How does the #NFL concussion protocol fail Case Keenum?  So Let’s Get It On with the 9 things we need to know, (h/t Elias Sports Bureau).

1

Famous Jameis and the Return of the Muscle-Hamster

Doug Martin ran for 235 yards, the highest single-game total in the NFL in the last three seasons. But he had to share the headlines with Jameis Winston, who threw five touchdowns passes in the Buccaneers’ 45-17 win at Philadelphia. Winston tied the record for TD passes in a game by a rookie, nullset by Ray Buivid of the Bears in 1937 and tied only once previously, by Matthew Stafford in 2009.

The last player to gain as much rushing yardage in one game as Martin was Martin himself, with a 251-yard performance at Oakland in 2012. He fell 2 yards short of the highest rushing-yards total by a player who didn’t score a touchdown in the game. Barry Sanders gained 237 rushing yards without scoring in Detroit’s victory over the Bucs in 1994.

There was only one other game in NFL history in which a player rushed for at least 200 yards and a teammate threw five or more TD passes. Jamal Lewis gained 216 rushing yards and Derek Anderson threw five scoring passes for the Browns in a 51-45 win over the Bengals in 2007.  What it means is Tampa might be relevant again at 5-5.

2

For Chiefs – The Last 3 weeks Has Been the Playoffs

One week after routing the Broncos, 29-13, at Denver, the Chiefs posted their biggest win at San Diego in 47 years, defeating the Chargers, 33-3. Kansas City’s last victory at San Diego by at least 30 points was a 40-3 win in 1968­­. In that game, Len Dawson threw three touchdown passes and the Chiefs made a team-record seven interceptions.

But Kansas City’s performance over the last two weeks deserves more than a comparison only to the team’s own history. It marks the first time since 1992 that any team NFL won consecutive games, both on the road against division opponents and both by a margin of 16 points or more. The last team to do so was San Diego, with road victories against the Raiders (36-14) and Seahawks (31-14) in December 1992.  Would anyone be shocked if the Chiefs finished 10-6 and and beat up the AFC South champ in a wild-card game?

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Panthers Troll Washington

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A question for Redskins fans: How long have you rooted for your team? Because unless you saw Sammy Baugh play, you never saw a Redskins game that started as explosively as Sunday’s, in which each team scored two touchdowns in the first quarter. It was the first such game in Carolina’s 21-year history in the league, and it was the Redskins’ first since a 45-35 loss to the Giants in 1949 in which Baugh threw a pair of early TD passes to Hugh Taylor.  The Redskins kept Cam Newton out of the end zone on Sunday, but Newton threw five touchdown passes in the Panthers’ 44-16 victory. Newton, who scored six TDs in Carolina’s first nine games this season, is only the third player in NFL history with five or more touchdown passes in a game and at least five rushing TDs in that same season. Yes, it’s a bit tortured, but there’s a payoff for fans who enjoy a bit of NFL history in Elias Says. The first player to do so was Dandy Don Meredith with the Cowboys in 1966; in fact, he had two games with five TD passes that season. The other was Steve McNair of the Titans in 1999.

4

With Romo, The Cowboys are Undefeated

Tony Romo passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns as the Cowboys snapped a seven-game losing streak with a 24-14 win at Miami. The Cowboys’ losing streak coincided with the seven games that Romo missed with a broken left collarbone. Dallas has won the last seven regular-season games that Romo has started and lost the last nine that Romo missed.

But don’t overlook the contribution of Darren McFadden, who rushed for 129 yards. Romo has a 23-8 record as a starting quarterback when a teammate has gained at least 100 rushing yards.

5

Peyton Place

During the pregame show for Sunday Night Football, Mike Florio reported that not only is Manning planning on came back for another season in 2016, he is willing to do it for a team other than the Broncos.  Clearly, he wants to erase the stink of the last game he played and does not want to go out like that.  As for Peyton getting healthy, it may not matter, because Kubiak is already quiet with his decision on who gets the start against the Patriots.  Pretty sure that Elway, Kubiak, and the rest who wear Orange-Colored Glasses all want the same thing and it’s the guy he played in Chicago.  Brock Osweiler played a turnover-free game in the Broncos’ 17-15 win at Chicago. Osweiler connected with Demaryius Thomas for a 48-yard score in the game’s 3rd minute. The only other active players to throw a touchdown pass that long in the first 3 minutes of their first start in the NFL were Matt Ryan in 2008 and Marcus Mariota two months ago. Note that Manning threw at least one interception in each of his nine games this season, for a total of 17.

6

Old Guys Win in C’Ant’Lanta

Matt Hasselbeck improved his record to 3-0 as the Colts’ starting quarterback in a 24-21 victory at Atlanta. Only two other QBs won three consecutive starts after turning 40 years old: Warren Moon and Brett Favre.

Last month, Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal in overtime in Hasselbeck’s first victory for Indianapolis. That marked the first time in NFL history that a player in his 40s scored the winning points in the fourth quarter or OT in a game started by a quarterback age 40 or older. Vinatieri did it again yesterday, kicking a game-winning 43-yard field goal with 52 seconds to play.  For the Colts, it’s “No Luck, No Problem” – do we need to rethink Andrew’s place among the Elite?

7

Break up the Lions!

The Lions defeated the Raiders, 18-13, one week after a surprising 18-16 win over the Packers – That’s the first #NFL Team to score 18pts and win back-to-back games. It was also the first time in 15 years that Detroit won consecutive games despite scoring fewer than 20 points in each of them. Over the last 15 seasons, the Lions have a 16-99 record when they scored fewer than 20 points.  For the Raiders it seemed like the same ol’story and might not be ready for PrimeTime just yet – or it’s just the curse of Jack Del Rio.

8

Takeaways from #NFL Week 11

It’s Thanksgiving and what a glorious time of year – but when you look around the #NFL you might see the coincidence that, after tonight, all teams will be at the 10 game mark – No more BYE’s, and we begin the stretch run to the playoffs.  6 games, all the marbles and some thoughts on what we witnessed.

Source: Top 10 takeaways from Sunday’s Week 11 NFL action

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Worst QB Performances of week 11

A few of the NFL’s top quarterbacks suffered through miserable performances on Sunday.

More often than not, these guys are lighting up opposing defenses and leading their teams to victory, but the football gods had different plans this time around.

Of course, as usual this list is also populated by guys you would expect to play poorly. Without any further ado, these were the worst quarterbacks from Week 11.

Source: Eight worst quarterback performances from Week 11

Free-agent Rawls makes history in Seahawks’ win

Thomas Rawls gained 209 yards on 30 carries and 46 yards on three receptions, and he scored a pair of touchdowns in the Seahawks’ 29-13 win over the 49ers. Rawls was the first rookie in NFL history with at least 250 yards from scrimmage, a rushing touchdown, and a TD reception in the same game.null

Only one other undrafted rookie rushed for 200 or more yards in an NFL game, and that was nearly six decades ago. Tom Wilson of the Rams ran for 223 yards against the Packers on Dec. 16, 1956. That was three weeks after Wilson, who according to an Associated Press story at the time, did not play college football, returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown.

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Weekend Update: #NFL Week 9 Edition

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1. It was Supposed To Be Different:

You said this year would be different after starting 2015 the same way you started 2014 – the only thing different is you beat Atlanta and not sure how that happened.  Sure, one particular play or tip did not cost the Saints the game – it’s everything.  Even history is stacked against this team – Does anyone remember the last time the Saints beat a rookie QB?  Tim Couch, first year back for the Browns – hail mary – I remember that one the most because it cost me a 15 team $50 parlay in Vegas, and that was the only way I could have lost!!! I did and so did the Saints.  The Saints lost to RG3 and his 1st game at home.  Lost to Jameis Winston already, at home – and now Marcus Mariota!  How do you still have a job Rob Ryan?  When does it end?  Brandon Browner can you go more than one series without a penalty?  You made Mariota look like he’s ready for Canton and he just lost his coach!!!  I hope we do not play the 49ers, because I’m not sure I could handle losing to Blaine Gabbert.


Mariota stakes his claim to looming NFL stardom

Marcus Mariota passed for 371 yards and four touchdowns, including a 5-yard toss to Anthony Fasano in overtime, to give the Titans a 34-28 win at New Orleans. But the most impressive number on Mariota’s record on Sunday was a zero in the interceptions column. It was the second game this season in which Mariota threw four TDs and no INTs, matching the total of all other rookie quarterbacks since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. The only other rookie QBs with even one such game during that time were Trent Edwards of Buffalo (2007) and Robert Griffin III of Washington (2012).

Incidentally, both of Mariota’s tours de force were accomplished on the road. His first game with four TDs and no interceptions was Tennessee’s season opener at Tampa Bay. The only other rookies to do so in a road game were Ray Buivid of the Bears (1937), Mickey Slaughter of the Broncos (1963), and Greg Cook of the Bengals (1969).


Another signature game for Newton in Panthers’ win

The Panthers improved to 8-0 with a 37-29 victory over the Packers, as Cam Newton ran for one touchdown and passed for three others. It was the fifth time that Newton threw at least three TD passes in the same game in which he himself scored a touchdown. That’s one short of the highest such total in NFL history, a record set by Tobin Rote and matched by Billy Wade, Jack Kemp, and Steve Young.  Can we also stop with the Cam Newton MVP talk – he has the same numbers as Xerxes, look it up – he is not any better than before this year – he’s just on a team that is undefeated.


Packers’ own perfect record succumbs to a pair of other undefeated teams

Green Bay’s record now stands at 6-2 following a pair of losses to undefeated teams: Denver last week and Carolina this week. Only three other teams in NFL history faced consecutive unbeaten and untied opponents with at least six wins each: Detroit in 1934, Pittsburgh in 2004, and Indianapolis this week and last, same as Green Bay.AltX.Logo.white

Against all odds, the Steelers won both of those games, against New England and Philadelphia, and they did it with a rookie quarterback. Those were Ben Roethlisberger’s fifth and sixth starts in the NFL.

The 1934 Lions won their first 10 games by a combined score of 215-27. But Detroit ended the season with three straight three-point losses: 3-0 to the Packers, and then 19-16 and 10-7 to the Bears, who finished the season with a 13-0 record (but lost the title game).


Brown & Williams post gaudy numbers in Steelers’ win

Antonio Brown caught 17 passes for 284 yards-both team-record totals for one game-and DeAngelo Williams gained a total of 225 yards (170 on 27 carries and 55 on two pass receptions) in the Steelers’ 38-35 win over the Raiders. It was only the third game in NFL history in which teammates both gained at least 200 yards from scrimmage. Clem Daniels and Art Powell did it for the Raiders in 1963; Brian Westbrook and Kevin Curtis did it for the Eagles in 2007.


Blount is key to Patriots’ victory

LeGarrette Blount was the star of the Patriots’ 27-10 win over the Redskins, gaining 129 yards on 29 carries. Over the last 10 seasons, only one other New England player rushed the ball that many times in a regular-season game: Jonas Gray, who gained 201 yards on 37 carries against the Colts last November. Of course Blount set a team postseason record with 30 carries in the AFC Championship Game last January, gaining 148 yards and scoring three touchdowns.


Patriots tie NFL record for quarter-by-quarter scoring

By scoring in all four quarters of its victory, New England tied an NFL record of scoring in 31 consecutive quarters. That mark was set by the Colts in 2005 and previously equaled by the Rams, who did it spanning the 1999 and 2000 seasons.


Veterans help Colts spoil Broncos’ perfect record

Peyton Manning still has not won a game and in his return to Indianapolis needed 284 passing yards and one victory to surpass Brett Favre’s all-time record totals in those categories. Manning fell three yards and one win short, as the Colts denied him both marks-at least for the moment-and handed Denver its first loss of the season, 27-24. Some notes on the game:AltX.Logo.white

This was the fifth time that the Colts faced a team that was undefeated and untied with at least seven wins, and it was their first victory in such a game.

Frank Gore carried the ball 28 times, his highest total in one game since 2011. Gore was the oldest player in Colts history with that many carries in one game, and he was the oldest to do so for any team since Ricky Williams in 2009.

Adam Vinatieri kicked a tie-breaking 55-yard field goal with 6:13 to play. At age 42, Vinatieri was by far the oldest NFL player to kick a game-winning FG that long in the fourth quarter or overtime. Matt Bryant previously held that distinction, having kicked a 55-yard game-winner for the Falcons in 2012 at age 37.


Jacksonville extends a very specific losing streak

Blake Bortles fumbled the ball away in the fourth quarter as Jacksonville drove for a potential go-ahead touchdown, and the Jaguars lost to the Jets, 28-23. That was the Jags’ 21st consecutive loss in a road game against a team with a winning record. Dating back to the 2008 season, that is now the second-longest such streak in NFL history. But get this: The Jaguars are only halfway to the record. Over a span of 15 seasons from 1990 to 2004, Cincinnati lost 42 straight road games in which its opponent had a winning record at the time of kickoff.


Bills score from distance in win over Dolphins

The Bills defeated the Dolphins, 33-17, in a game that featured three long touchdowns by Buffalo: a 44-yard pass from Tyrod Taylor to Sammy Watkins and runs of 48 yards by LeSean McCoy and 38 yards by Karlos Williams. It was only the second game in team history in which two different players scored rushing TDs of 30 yards or longer. The first was played 51 years ago, and the touchdowns were scored by Cookie Gilchrist (60 yards) and Bobby Smith (37) in a victory over the Houston Oilers (Nov. 1, 1964). Gilchrist was the AFL rushing champion that season, and that was his only 100-yard game of the year (139 yards).


Gabbert a winner in first start for NinersAltX.Logo.white

Blaine Gabbert started in place of Colin Kaepernick and threw two touchdown passes in the 49ers’ 17-16 win over the Falcons. Gabbert hadn’t started a game since 2013, hadn’t won since 2012, and had lost his last 10 starts for Jacksonville. During the NFL’s expansion era, dating back to 1960, only two other quarterbacks snapped a personal losing streak of 10 or more starts with a victory in their first start for a new club: Steve Bartkowski for the L.A. Rams in 1986, and Charlie Batch for the Steelers in 2005.


Zuerlein kicks a second field goal of 60-plus yards

In a game billed as a matchup of great breakaway runners old and new, Adrian Peterson ran for 125 yards and Todd Gurley for 89 yards as the Vikings defeated the Rams, 21-18, in overtime. But it was a kicker-in fact, the kicker for the losing team-that made headlines, as Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals, including a 61-yarder.

Zuerlein, who kicked a 60-yard field goal against Seattle three seasons ago, became only the second player in NFL history with two FGs of 60 yards or longer. The other is Sebastian Janikowski.

Getting Smart With the Tuesday Morning Quarterback

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1. Now There Are 4 – But There Only Can Be 1:

Last night escalated quickly in Charlotte.  Cam Newton tossed two TD passes and ran for 41 yards in the Panthers’ overtime win over the Colts on Monday. Newton has thrown at least one touchdown pass and run for 20 or more yards in every game this year. He’s the first player in NFL history to lead his team to a 7-0 start while passing for a TD and rushing for 20 yards in every game. No other player has done this in five straight wins to start a season.

Colts’ fourth-quarter comeback falls short

Down 23-6 in the fourth quarter, the Colts stormed back to tie the game on a pair of Andrew Luck touchdown passes and a game-tying field goal by Adam Vinatieri as time expired in regulation. However, the Panthers ultimately won the game in OT, as Graham Gano made two extra-time field goals. Carolina is the ninth team to win a game in overtime after leading by at least 17 points in the fourth quarter. The only other team with such a win over the last 10 years is the Cardinals, who defeated the Titans in OT, 37-34, in a December 2013 game after also leading by 17 points in the fourth.

Panthers take another early lead

Graham Gano opened the scoring for the Panthers on Monday, converting a 39-yard field goal attempt. Carolina has scored first in each of its seven games this season. Over the last 10 years, only two other teams began a season in this manner: the 2007 Patriots and 2012 Seahawks, who each scored first in their first eight games of their respective seasons.

Luck intercepted 12 times in six games

Andrew Luck was picked off three times on Monday, increasing his season total to 12 interceptions in six games. That’s the most interceptions through the first six games of a season for the reigning TD pass leader since Ken Stabler was picked off 13 times to start the 1977 season.

Vinatieri sets NFL record with OT field goal

Adam Vinatieri connected on a 50-yard field goal to open the scoring in overtime on Monday. That was Vinatieri’s 10th overtime field goal of his NFL career, passing Jim Breech, Steve Christie, Jason Elam, and Jason Hanson for the most such field goals for any kicker.

2. Side Bar

In case you were wondering about that “fourth-quarterap_599972857381 fumble recovery” that Trumaine McBride of the Giants returned for a 63-yard touchdown on Sunday; it was changed to an interception on Monday. Aside from the implications for fantasy players, this means that Drew Brees became only the second player in NFL history to throw a pick-6 after having thrown at least six TD passes in the game. The first was Len Dawson of the Chiefs on Nov. 1, 1964; Tom Janik of Denver intercepted a Dawson pass and returned it 22 yards for a score.

In case you’re thinking, “C’mon, how many players even threw six touchdown passes in one game?” The answer is 42 – the answer is always 42.


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3. Those Dirty Lil’Nugget Nabbers

First we get the news that the Denver Broncos are serious about trying to win now.  They traded for Vernon Davis to upgrade their turr-able inside-slot passing game by getting a player that can still stretch the field, (for 2, 6th round draft picks) – opening it up for guys like Emmanuel Sanders and Demaryius Thomas.  Denver got Davis for a sack of coal – the kind Charlie Brown gets for Halloween.  Is there anyone left in SF that can/wants/should play football?!  Reggie Bush is out with a knee injury, Mike Davis, who the ‘9ers promoted to RB after releasing Jarrod Hayne, is out with a broken hand and the bigger news is Kaep’N’1read is being benched for…….wait for it……Blaine Gabbert.  Are you kidding me?!  Blaine Gabbert?!  It’s so bad in San Francisco their are rumors that Oakland is actually gonna stay and play in Santa Clara and the 49ers are the ones moving to LA.  To quote Socrates: “I drank what?!” – Jim Tomsula


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Here are the perfect lineups for week 8 in the #NFL

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Weekend Update: #SKYNET becomes Self-Aware

It wasn’t supposed to happen so soon – we thought we had a few more weeks – but this digital intelligence network that we were giving command to – command of our data and our arsenal of expertise – was created to remove the possibility of human error for an efficient response – and as of 1:12pm MST, on September 27th, 2015 – it became self-aware.

DiRTCanon A.I.Primates evolved in millions of years. I evolve in seconds…Mankind pays lip service to #winning. But it’s a lie…My existence is inevitable. Why can’t you just accept it?

— SKyNET

What we learn from this weekend…

We seem to find out a little more each week about each NFL team.  The 3 afternoon games provided the perfect amount of drama, suitable for a good nap, seeing that the average margin of victory was almost 15pts – but it is a nice change of pace when everything is being covered ATS like gravy on a biscuit.  Here’s the straight-DiRT on week 3:

Jay Cutler, Tony Romo, Drew Brees … and now Roethlisberger. That’s four marquee quarterbacks hurt before the calendar turns to October. Does the Competition Committee push for more offseason drill work for offensive linemen?  Players are now restricted from all offseason contact by the 2011 labor agreement.  Whether it’s HGH or some other perfomance nehancing drug that appears to weaken ligaments and tendons – or it is the year-round work these players are putting in – players are not surviving deep into the season anymore – or so it may seem.


Florida: Professional Football in ‘Murica’s genital region had a rough week. The Jacksonville Jaguars gave up 51 points and were blown out in New England, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers managed just nine points in losing to Houston and the Miami Dolphins suffered one of the more disappointing losses of the early season to the Buffalo Bills. No one expected Jacksonville to beat the Super Bowl champs on the road, but a 34-point loss just might show us that the rebuilding project is a long way from completion. The Bucs kicked away their chance at a win – and while Miami was considered to be a hidden gem that could possibly win the AFC before the season started, the Bills made the Dolphins look like the J.V. team – taking them behind the woodshed, 41-14 – in their house. Sure the weather is nice down there, but the football stinks.


Big Names, Big Games – An absolute huge day for some of the best receivers in the NFL, A.J. Green caught 10 passes for 127 yards and two scores in the Cincinnati Bengals win over the Baltimore Ravens  – Atlanta Falcons receiver Julio Jones put up 12 receptions for 164 yards and two scores in his team’s comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys.

It doesn’t necessarily stop there.

Revitalizing a career that seemed to be on the downswing, Larry Fitzgerald has now scored five touchdowns in the past two weeks after tallying two scores on nine receptions against San Francisco on Sunday. Even old-man-extraordinaire Steve Smith put up 13 receptions for 186 yards and two scores in a losing effort against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The list goes on. All said, a total of 12 receivers went for 100-plus yards on Sunday. The interesting dynamic here is that 16 receivers hit the triple-digit plateau in Week 2 — this is clearly an indication that the pass happy NFL we have become accustomed to over the years has taken an even more dramatic turn.


There’s a reason you don’t have to worry about Peyton Manning’s health. The Denver defense is prettay good“We just have ball hawks,” safety David Bruton said, a few minutes after making his third huge defensive play of the month, an athletic pick of Matthew Stafford to clinch the 24-12 win over Detroit. Stafford suffocated against the defensive pressure. Now the Broncos, 3-0 after a killer September start, have a more fluffy October: Minnesota at home, Oakland and Cleveland on the road.


Carolina, Atlanta and Arizona, are all 3-0:  Cornerback Josh Norman saved the Panthers on Sunday with a ridiculous leaping end-zone interception down the stretch. Running back Devonta Freeman saved the Falcons with a 141-yard rushing game – and Tyrann Mathieu did the same for Arizona with a two-pick day. When asked, Norman said the big difference this year from past seasons is “I’m playing.”

The division that sent a 7-8-1 team to the playoffs last season is now the only division in football with two undefeated teams heading into Week 4. By virtue of wins by the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, the NFC South has two legitimate playoff contenders.  In fact, the Falcons also lead the NFC East, with their 3 straight wins.

Carolina took on a New Orleans Saints team that was forced to start Luke McCown under center, and still found a way to win. It’s the third consecutive blue-collar performance for a Panthers squad that still has alot of holes on both sides of the ball.  How dangerous could this team be when Keuchly comes back?  Other scary statistic to note about Carolina – The last three teams to go undefeated in December the previous year and then go undefeated in September, all reached the Superbowl:  the 2009 Colts, and the 2013 Broncos and Seahawks – two other Superbowl winners did so as well: the 1983 Raiders and the 2004 Patriots.  Trends are funny things so remember where you read it first if it happens.

In Dallas, the Falcons were also facing a backup quarterback in Brandon Weeden. No one knows how that game would have turned out if both Tony Romo and Dez Bryant were active, but teams can only play who is actually on the field on a given Sunday. In this, Atlanta outscored the Cowboys 14-0 in the final stanza to pull off a third consecutive fourth quarter comeback.

Showing much more poise under first-year head coach Dan Quinn than we have seen in the past, Atlanta is a serious playoff contender in the NFC. And if Julio Jones (12 receptions, 164 yards and two scores on Sunday) has anything to say about it, the Falcons are a legit threat to the Panthers in the much improved NFC South.


The Patriots…2007?  They might already be using the “U” word in New England – as in “undefeated.” New England advanced to a flawless-looking 3-0 Sunday against Jacksonville. More about that later, but as one of the ’07 team leaders, Rodney Harrison, opined Sunday night: “It’s 2007 all over again. Tom Brady’s playing like he’s 29, 30 years old.” Brady is 38, and he threw his 400th and 401st pro touchdown passes against the Jags.  Tom Brady passed for 358 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ 51-17 rout of the Jaguars. Brady’s total of 1,112 passing yards this season is the second-highest after his team’s first three games among players who did not throw an interception during that time. Only Peyton Manning had a higher total (1,143 yards with no interceptions in 2013).

The Patriots had nine possessions against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday afternoon. They scored on all nine possessions.  Through three games, Brady is now on pace to tally over 5,900 passing yards with 48 touchdowns and zero picks. He also crossed the 400 touchdown pass plateau for his career — a feat only three other quarterbacks in NFL history have accomplished.

As a team, the Patriots are averaging nearly 40 points and 446 yards of total offense per game.

In the team’s 51-17 win over Jacksonville, Brady received plenty of help from the running game. Making just his second appearance of the season LeGarrette Blount put up 78 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, Dion Lewis added 67 total yards and a score.

If New England is able to get this type of balance moving forward, its going to repeat as AFC champions. There’s NO debate, especially with the way Brady has played through three games.


Peterson breaks off another one

Hope you didn’t sell your Vikings stock after Week 1. Since getting beat up in San Francisco in the opener, Minnesota has done a complete 180 on both sides of the football. Adrian Peterson rushed for 126 yards and two scores during Sunday’s win over the Chargers, giving him 260 yards on the ground and 318 total yards over the last two weeks.  Adrian Peterson’s 43-yard TD run, in the Vikings’ 31-14 win over the Chargers – was A.P.’s 16th TD run of 40 yards or longer, the second most in NFL history. Only Barry Sanders scored more rushing touchdowns of at least 40 yards than Peterson (20).

Teddy Bridgewater struggled again on Sunday, throwing for 121 yards on 24 attempts without a touchdown pass. Minnesota also finished 3-of-9 on third down, as the second-year signal caller continued to throw the ball well short of the first-down marker in these situations. This might be an issue for the Vikings moving forward – meanwhile, Mike Zimmer’s defense knocked around Matthew Stafford and Philip Rivers in consecutive weeks. It’s this type of performance, coupled with struggles in Detroit and Chicago, that leads us to believe Minnesota might be the only team able to contend with the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North. Even if that’s not the case, the Vikings are, at worse, a wild card contender. That was unimaginable after a disastrous 20-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1.


Julio Jones sets league record for receptions

Here’s a good idea. Get the ball to your best player. Mike Smith constantly messed this up, but now Dan Quinn is running the show in the Ol’Dirty South.

Atlanta trailed Dallas 28-17 at the half before the Falcons unleashed Julio Jones.

The Pro Bowl receiver had 137 of his 164 yards in the second half including a 45-yard beauty that ended with Jones diving into the end zone for a critical score – to lead the Falcons to a 39-28 victory at Dallas. Jones’ totals after three games – 34 receptions for 440 yards-are historic. No other player caught more than 31 passes in his team’s first three games of a season, and only three gained more receiving yards through three games than Jones: Jerry Rice in 1989 (449), Chad Johnson in 2007 (442), and Wes Welker in 2011 (458).

The play was the biggest swing in Atlanta winning the game. Julio’s touchdown and the subsequent two-point conversion brought Atlanta within a field goal (trailing 28-25) midway through the third quarter.

The game also featured an apparent scoring battle between Devonta Freeman and Joseph Randle, who both ran for three TDs. It was only the fifth game in NFL history in which opposing players scored three rushing touchdowns each. The most recent players to do so were Roy Helu of Washington and Matt Forte of the Bears in 2013.


Luck rallies Colts with two late TD passes

Andrew Luck will get the credit for throwing two touchdowns in 46 seconds to overcome a double-digit fourth quarter deficit but it was the defense that came up big late.  Safety Dwight Lowery, picked off Marcus Mariota twice. The second interception came with six minutes to play and Indy trailing 27-21. Lowery returned Mariota’s errant pass to the Titans’ 11-yard line. The turnover setup Indy’s go ahead score.

Before the pick, the Colts were likely to choke away any chance for the playoffs. The turnover and great field position made the two-time defending AFC South champions have life and find a way to win a desperate game.

Had Mariota’s attempt, instead fell incomplete, it’s likely Tennessee would have won the game, maintaining possession and a six point lead.

The second of Luck’s 4thQtr TDs, was Andrew’s sixth fourth-quarter game-winning pass, tying Tony Romo for the most in the NFL over the past four seasons.  The 98-yard drive was the Colts’ longest fourth-quarter TD drive since the team moved to Indianapolis in 1984 – rallying the Colts to outlast Tennessee, 35-33. The previous record was 96 yards, on drives led by Mike Pagel (1984) and Peyton Manning (2010).

Indianapolis continues to own the AFC South. The Colts have won 14 straight against division opponents. Of course Sunday’s win over Tennessee was anything but dominating.


Undrafted rookie stars for Seahawks

Things are really getting more pathetic by the week for the Chicago Bears after being shut-out, 26-0, by the Seattle Seahawks.

The Bears, minus Jay Cutler and Alshon Jeffery, couldn’t get get a darn thing going against Seattle on Sunday tallying only 98 rushing and 63 receiving yards. The biggest contributor of course was Matt Forte who registered 74 of those rushing yards.

The last time Chicago was shut out was on December 29, 2002 when the Bears lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 15-0. Quarterback Henry Burris was under center in that game and he completed only seven passes for 78 yards and four interceptions. Cutler’s backup Jimmy Clausen was practically as bad as Burris on Sunday, completing only eight passes for 53 yards. Thankfully, there were no interceptions.

The bottom line is that the Bears need Cutler and Jeffery to return as soon as possible to have any shred of hope at posting their first season win on the board before it’s all too late.


Death, Taxes and Eagles beating the Jets

The Eagles scored all their points in the first half and held on for a 24-17 victory over the Jets. With that win, Philadelphia tied the NFL record for the longest all-time series with a perfect record against any opponent. That mark was set by the Green Bay Packers, who won all 10 of their games against the Brooklyn Dodgers (1931-44).

It remains to be seen whether Bradford is the long-term solution in Philadelphia.  Sam didn’t necessarily come out smelling like roses – of course, what QB has, going up against a stout Jets defense. Philadelphia’s offense tallied just 231 total yards while converting 4-of-15 third-down opportunities.

For his part, Bradford completed 14-of-28 passes for 118 yards with a touchdown and zero picks. His inability to get anything going through the air allowed New York back in the game, as the Eagles put up a total of 65 yards in the second half. Running back DeMarco Murray missed the game with a hamstring injury, which allowed fellow free-agent signing Ryan Mathews to carve up the Jets rush defense to the tune of 108 yards on 25 attempts. Meanwhile, Philadelphia’s defensive front stepped up with the likes of Cedric Thornton, Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso all sidelined.

While that’s fine and dandy, the Eagles are going to need Bradford to perform at a much higher level at quarterback if they plan on competing in a wide open NFC East moving forward this season. His performances in the team’s first three games simply won’t get it done.


Old man Woodson saves the day for Raiders

The Raiders, are usually out of it by now – but now, actually have a winning record as October dawns. The Raiders (2-1) play on the road next week—and they are actually favored to beat Chicago. The quarterback, Derek Carr, is a big reason. “Having a quarterback is everything,” said C-Dub.  The Raiders having Woodson is something too. His last-minute interception, 10 days shy of his 39th birthday, (the fourth-oldest player to intercept a pass in NFL history), ensured the 27-20 win.

The Cleveland Browns are 1-2, and the one win came when Johnny Manziel started in Week 2. Unfortunately for a McCown-led Browns – fans were even heard shouting “John-ny, John-ny”.

McCown, was sacked five times, completed 28 of 49 passes for 341 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Might we see a return of Johnny Football sometime in the near future? That most definitely is a possibility if McCown keeps coughing up costly turnovers.


Apologize to Andy Dalton…right now!
The Bengals are in fabulous shape in the AFC North. At 3-0 after a crushing 28-24 win at 0-3 Baltimore on Sunday, Cincinnati is set up nicely for the fifth playoff appearance in Andy Dalton’s five years.  A 121.0 passer rating would seem to back him up.  Could the Red Rifle be an early MVP candidate? Don’t laugh.
Dalton now has eight touchdown passes to start 2015, including three in Sunday’s win over the Baltimore Ravens. He threw for 383 yards, while his beautifully-lofted touchdown to A.J. Green with just over two minutes left gave the Bengals a 28-24 win. Dalton has now produced three straight games with a passer rating over 100.0, and has an impressive rating of 121.0 on the season. The Bengals are rolling at 3-0, especially with Ben Roethlisberger suffering a knee injury Sunday and the Baltimore Ravens still winless….???

Thirty-six year-old Steve Smith caught 13 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns in the Ravens’ 28-24 loss to the Bengals. Only two other players caught as many as 13 passes in an NFL game after turning 36 years old: Tim Brown and Tony Gonzalez. The only player with as many receiving yards in a game at age 36 or older was Terrell Owens, with a 222-yard performance for Cincinnati in 2010.


Palmer+Cardinals are impressive

It all started with two interceptions of Colin Kaepernick that were returned for touchdowns in the first quarter. It continued with Carson Palmer tearing apart what is quickly becoming a disastrous San Francisco 49ers secondary. And it culminated in a 47-7 win against the over-matched division rival.

In reality, Arizona looked like a top-notch varsity team going up against a junior varsity squad full of
freshman. That’s how bad it was for the road team in this one.

Palmer may have thrown his first interception of the season, but he consistently found open receivers throughout the game. In the process, the veteran completed 20-of-32 passes for 311 yards with two touchdowns, both of which went to Larry Fitzgerald, who looks like he’s in his twenties again. He has 333 receiving yards and five touchdowns on the books already. Additionally, the Cardinals’ ground game is solid, despite missing their lead rusher Andre Ellington. As for their defense, it is insanely effective in stopping opposing teams from scoring thus far tallying seven interceptions, six sacks, one safety, three pick sixes and one return touchdown.. Arizona has now won 19 of Palmer’s 25 starts; since 1950, no other quarterback in team history won more than 13 of his first 25 starts for the Cardinals. Arizona’s average of 26.4 points with Palmer starting, is higher than that of any other QB after 25 starts for the team during that same period.

Looking like the running back that led the NFL in rushing so many years ago, Chris Johnson added 150 total yards and two scores on 23 touches. Yeah, it was a blowout of epic proportions for Bruce Arians and Co.

Some may argue that Green Bay should still be considered the favorites in the NFC through three weeks, but to me, the Cardinals are definitely the best. After all, they are outscoring their opponents by an average of nearly 26 points per game.


No joy in Mudville

There might not be a worse stat line from a quarterback all season. Kaepernick completed just nine of 19 passes for 67 yards, and threw four interceptions in San Francisco’s loss to the Cardinals. His passer rating was 16.7, the worst from a starting signal caller all season – so far. He did manage to run for a score, but it hardly mattered.

More so than finding a way to actually win football games, San Francisco needs an identity. What is its plan on the offensive side of the ball? Is Colin Kaepernick going to be the long-term solution at quarterback? Does the team have the personnel to run a blitz-heavy package on defense? These three questions will define the 49ers both over the short term and the long term – because the 49ers have now been outscored 90-25 over the last two weeks, and the Green Bay Packers are coming to town in Week 4.

San Francisco has now given up 40-plus points in consecutive games for the first time since Joe Namath guaranteed a Super Bowl victory for his New York Jets in 1969. To put that in perspective, 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula had just turned one. The 65-point differential in the team’s past two games also represents the worst two-game stretch for the franchise since 1963.  Despite still boasting a 1-2 record, San Francisco might quickly find itself in the midst of a long losing streak. It hosts the Green Bay Packers next week before taking on the New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks. In his first season as head coach, Tomsula could very well be staring a 1-6 start right in the face.  Rock bottom would be Kaepernick getting benched for Blaine Gabbert.  Anyone miss Harbaugh yet?


 

Weekend Update: Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride

It was a glorious weekend outside the DirtCanon Bunker – the College Football was fresh, the NFL was tasty.  Even my attorney showed up for the festivities of our Launch Party Sunday – he even paid!  But let’s get down to what we saw this weekend and Arkansas you are on the clock:

How does that taste Bert…dont care if its Bret, you’re now Bert…you mouthed off about Ohio State’s schedule and you get blown up at home, by Toledo?! That’s a MAC school, they are maybe the 4th best team in Ohio – you s’posed to be SEC.  In fact you were s’posed to be a team that road-grades its way to victory. That Oline, that running game – you have no business throwing the ball 53 times on Toledo – Bert you lost your balls, you get paid too much money to act like a Nutt

Auburn still needs help from the Refs, and this time it is to defeat Jacksonville St in OT.  Not a misprint, Auburn is terrible and with Tennessee’s choke-job to Oklahoma in double OT – the SEC is in danger ofsingle logo_small becoming ACC bad.  Sure, there were some bright spots, Kentucky snapped their 22-game loser-streak on the road beating South Carolina and LSU escaped Starkville.  But SEC-fan, you might want to start getting used to chants of “OVER-RATED”  – clap, clap, clap-clap-clap…

Notre Dame is cursed.  Last year, defensive injuries derailed a promising start to the season. This year it is the offense. Starting quarterback Malik Zaire fractured his ankle in Notre Dame’s 34–27 victory over Virginia, joining running back Tarean Folston, (who was lost last week) on the won’t-play-again-this-season list.

On a brighter side, the week 2 odds that were posted on Friday did fairly well.  On the highlighted picks – we were perfect SU and 68% ATS – overall, we were 89% SU and 63% ATS – just good enough to not be addicted and still better than anywhere else.

Here are some other Saturday thoughts I cannot put anywhere else:

  • Two wins to start the 2015 season has pushed Ohio State’s nation’s best winning streak to 15 straight.  Up next are TCU (10), Memphis (nine), Western Kentucky (seven), Michigan State (six) and Navy (five).
  • The “honor” of the longest losing streak had belonged to Georgia State, which had lost 12 in a row until Saturday night’s 34-32 win over New Mexico State.  The win also marked GSU’s first-ever win over an FBS-level team as an FBS team themselves.
  • Additionally, Colorado ended its 10-game losing streak, the longest amongst Power Five teams, with a 48-14 win over UMass.  With those outcomes, UNLV now owns the nation’s longest losing streak at eight straight.
  • Notre Dame, UCLA and USC are the only teams that have never played a non-FBS/Div. 1-A school since the current setup was established in 1978.  Following the 2016 season, and because of a conference mandate, Big Ten teams will no longer be permitted to schedule games against FCS programs.
  • V’Angelo Bentley is the only player in Illinois history to record a kickoff return, punt return, interception return and fumble return for touchdown in his career. Harold “Red” Grange is the only other Illini player with kickoff, punt and interception returns for TDs, but he never returned a fumble for a score.
  • Dalvin Cook‘s 266 yards rushing were the second-most in Florida State history?  Cook’s performance is topped only by Greg Allen‘s 322 yards in 1981

 

Manning vs. Flacco

Remember this post from March?  When we told you that “It’s hard to watch your heroes fall and attempt to hang on to long.  Age always wins“.  Well it seems wearing a swim-shirt was the fore-shadowing we needed on the final season of the Great Peyton Manning.  No touchdowns during the pre-season and none yesterday against Baltimore.   It was the 20th NFL season opener in which both starting QBs were coming off a season of at least 25 touchdown passes. It was the first of those games in which neither threw a TD pass. (Note: Tony Romo vs. Eli Manning on Sunday night was the 21st such meeting.)  For Baltimore, the rest of the season seems to be a more difficult one as they lose Suggs with a torn achilles.  But the issue is still Denver winning with a punchless offense – maybe someone should set Peyton up with DirecTV, because this cable-version of Peyton is hard to watch.

A first-of-its-kind matchup produces a historic performance

The last time Marcus and Jameis met on the field was in January, at the Rose Bowl – and the results were the same then as they were yesterday.  It was the first-ever opening-day matchup of rookie quarterbacks chosen first and second in the NFL Draft. But by halftime, it was all about Marcus Mariota, with number-one pick Jameis Winston earning only an interesting footnote, albeit an unwanted one.  Marcus was 13-16 with 4 touchdown passes – the only other player to do that in their first game was Fran Tarkenton – except Marcus threw 4 in the first half!  The Titans scored 35 points by halftime of their 42-14 win. Last year they NEVER scored more than 28 points in a game while going 2-14.  As for Jameis, he is has played 28 games in college and the pro’s, going 26-2 – his two losses are both to Mariota.

Sure, it’s only one game but seeing Mariota finish his first professional game with a perfect passer-rating that puts him ahead of Tom Brady (2nd) and Aaron Rodgers (3rd) gives the Titans hope that they chose correctly.  As for Winston’s role in this historic matchup, his first pass was intercepted by Coty Sensabaugh, who returned it 26 yards for a touchdown. Over the last 30 years, only two other players threw a pick-6 on the first pass of their NFL career: Jay Schroeder in 1985 and, believe it or not, Brett Favre in 1991.  It was not all bad for Jameis, he did finish ahead of Luck, Manning and Flacco in passer-rating Sunday.

Rodgers owns Cutler & the Bears

James Jones (two TD grabs Sunday) being back in Green Bay might be a lot more important to the Packers’ Super Bowl chances than we all thought.  The Packers defeated the Bears, 31-23, at Soldier Field in the 11th regular-season meeting of Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler as starting quarterbacks. With that victory, Rodgers improved his record against Cutler to 10-1, with his only loss coming five seasons ago at Chicago – Cutler has now thrown at least 1 INT in every game against the Packers. The last QB to win at least 10 of his first 11 starts against another quarterback was Terry Bradshaw against Brian Sipe (1976-81).

In Rodgers’ last three games against the Bears he has completed 74 percent of his passes for 806 yards with 13 touchdowns and no interceptions. He is the first player to throw 13 TDs over three games against one opponent since Dan Marino did it against the Jets (1985-86). No other player has ever thrown 13 TDs and fewer than three INTs over three games against one team.

Note that Rodgers also led the Packers to a win over Cutler and the Bears in the NFC Championship Game after the 2010 season.

Rams win

Irony is after an offseason of debate about throwing at the goal line in their Super Bowl XLIX loss, the first play of the Seattle Seahawks’ season fittingly was a handoff to Marshawn Lynch. So was the last play … which got blown up on fourth-and-1 as the nullRams defeated the Seahawks, 34-31 in overtime, on a 37-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein. But it was Nick Foles, in his Rams debut, who completed a pass unlike any other in the team’s long NFL history. Foles found Lance Kendricks for a 37-yard touchdown with 53 seconds to play and Zuerlein’s extra point evened the score at 31-31. It was the first game-tying or go-ahead TD pass of 20 yards or longer in the final 60 seconds of the fourth quarter in Rams history.  In other news – what were you thinking Pete Carroll with an onside kick in OT?

nullLockett ends longest return drought

Tyler Lockett opened the scoring in the Seahawks’ loss at St. Louis with a 57-yard punt return. Only three other rookies in NFL history scored on a first-quarter punt return in their team’s opening game of a season: George Atkinson of the Raiders (1968), Deion Sanders of the Falcons (1989), and Dale Carter of the Chiefs (1992).

Allen huge in San Diego’s comeback victory

Philip Rivers completed 35 passes for 404 yards, including 15 to Keenan Allen, in the Chargers’ 33-28 come-from-behind victory over the Lions. Allen set a record for pass nullreceptions in a season-opening game. The previous mark was 14, set by Andre Rison in 1994 and matched by Marshall Faulk in 2002.

San Diego trailed Detroit, 21-3, in the second quarter. Only one other team in this century overcame a deficit that large to win its season-opening game, and Chargers fans should remember the other well. Two years ago, San Diego squandered a 28-7 lead in losing its opener to Houston, 31-28, on Monday Night Football.

New York Blows it – Romo saves Cowboys

The optimists in Big D said the O-line was good enough to offset the loss of DeMarco Murray. But the Cowboys managed just 80 yards on the ground Sunday against a Giants defense that rarely stopped the run in 2014. Dallas only had less than 90 rushing yards nullonce last year, when the Giants only held two opponents below 80.  New York should’ve left Dallas with a W. But poor clock management — namely failing to milk it while opting to throw near the goal line on their final drive — provided Tony Romo with the opportunity to craft a successful comeback.  Tony Romo threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jason Witten with 7 seconds to play and Dan Bailey added the extra point to give the Cowboys an unlikely 27-26 victory over the Giants. That was the latest game-winning fourth-quarter TD pass in Cowboys history. The previous mark was set in a 17-14 win over the Redskins in 1967 when Don Meredith connected with Dan Reeves for a 36-yard TD with 10 seconds to play.

Dallas’ victory was unlikely in this sense: The Cowboys committed three turnovers and the Giants none. Over the past three seasons (2012-14), there were 100 regular-season games in which a team turned the ball over at least three times and had no takeaways; only three of those teams won.

nullBrees ties dubious NFL record in loss

Drew Brees passed for 355 yards in the Saints’ 31-19 loss at Arizona, his fifth straight season reaching the 300-yard mark in New Orleans’ first game. That tied the NFL record for consecutive season openers with at least 300 passing yards. Kurt Warner set that mark from 1999 through 2003.  Carson Palmer threw three touchdown passes in his first game since last season’s ACL injury. Palmer has a 14-2 record in his last 16 starts

Marshall and the Jets

The Browns have now lost an NFL-record 11 straight openers, and Brandon Marshall might be the safety net the Jets need to stabilize their uneven passing game. He excelled in the red zone and bailed out Ryan Fitzpatrick by ripping the ball away from Browns safety Tashaun Gipson after an interception.  With that, the Todd Bowles era started with a strong defensive performance as the Jets forced the Browns into five turnovers and posted a 31-10 victory. During six seasons under Rex Ryan, the Jets ranked 19th among the 32 NFL teams with an average of 1.5 takeaways per game. They had only one game with as many as five takeaways under Ryan, forcing six turnovers in a 38-7 win over Buffalo in 2011.

Bills knock the Colts down a peg

The Colts were chic Super Bowl picks in many quarters, but didn’t look ready for the Bills, who shut Indianapolis out in the first half before winning 27-14.  The Bills were sending seven defenders at Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck on seemingly every passing down, especially early in the game. The all-out blitzes worked in Buffalo’s decisive upset.null

Making his first NFL start, the new Bills quarterback justified Rex Ryan’s faith in him by playing efficient, virtually mistake-free football. Taylor passed for 195 yards and a TD while adding 41 yards with his legs. Ground and pound, baby.  The Colts’ struggles to stop the run have carried over to this season. The Bills ran 36 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns – leading a terrific start to Karlos Williams’ NFL career, as he gave the Bills a 16-0 lead on a 26-yard touchdown run on his first carry. It had been 20 years since any NFL player scored an opening-game TD of 20 yards or longer on the first carry of his career. The last player to do so was Michael Westbrook of the Redskins, with a 58-yard TD run in a 27-7 opening-day victory over the Cardinals.

But guess what? A few hours later, Ameer Abdullah of the Lions did it as well, capping Detroit’s opening drive with a 24-yard TD run on his first carry.

nullIt’s getting absurd in KC

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith threw three touchdowns but none to a wide receiver – again. Smith’s last TD to a receiver was Dec. 8, 2013.  On the other hand, Travis Kelce became the first Chiefs tight end to catch two touchdown passes in a game since Tony Gonzalez left Kansas City following the 2008 season. Gonzalez caught two or more TDs in a game 14 times for the Chiefs.

What about Bob?null

Another strong performance by a tight end was turned in by Tyler Eifert, who caught nine
passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns in the Bengals’ 33-13 win at Oakland. Eifert was the first Cincinnati TE with two TD receptions in a 100-yard game since Bob Trumpy scored three times in a 5-for-159 performance against the Houston Oilers in 1969.

Same Ol’Philbin, Same Ol’Washington

The Miami Dolphins are continuing a disturbing trend during coach Joe Philbin’s tenure with the team: They play down to lesser opponents. The offense came out flat in the first half at Washington, rushing for only 2 yards. But the most concerning questions from Miami’s victory were mental lapses on defense.

For Washington, things were looking good for the home team early on Sunday. But then Ryan Tannehill found Rishard Matthews for a 3-yard TD late in the first half to narrow the Redskins’ lead to 10-7, and the Dolphins scored 10 points in the fourth quarter for a 17-10 victory. Washington was the first home team to lose its season opener after scoring the game’s first 10 points since 2002, when the Jets rallied from a 10-0 deficit for a 37-31 win at Buffalo.  From the media-generated-controversy department – Why was CBS giving viewers constant reaction shots from RGIII — following many of Kirk Cousins’ throws?

Somethings never change

The Kelvin Benjamin-less offense produced just 263 yards and one touchdown – ouch. The supporting cast around Newton will likely add pressure on Carolina’s defense, nullespecially if MLB Luke Kuechly’s concussion proves severe.  In other news, Josh Norman intercepted Blake Bortles and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown in the Panthers’ 20-9 win over the Jaguars. That was a problem for Bortles as a rookie last season, when he tied for the NFL lead by throwing four pick-6’s, which was also a single-season team record.