Elias Says: December 4, 2017

You heard it here first: McCown, Flutie & Thorpe

Josh McCown led a resilient Jets team to a 38–31 come-from-behind victory over the Chiefs after Kansas City rediscovered its explosive offense (details in the next note). The Jets showed their moxie early, erasing a 14-point first-quarter deficit before the period ended, something they had done only twice before in team history. McCown threw one touchdown pass and, at age 38, became the oldest player with two rushing TDs in one game since Doug Flutie of the Chargers did it at age 41 in 2003. In fact, the only other player to do so after his 38th birthday was … wait for it … Jim Thorpe of the Canton Bulldogs in 1926.

Even in a loss, Smith’s connections to Kelce & Hill are historic

Alex Smith threw four touchdown passes in Kansas City’s loss—all for more than 20 yards, the first two to Travis Kelce and the last two to Tyreke Hill. Here’s the skinny:

Smith was the first player to throw four TD passes of 21 yards or longer in a loss since Dan Marino did it against the Jets in 1988. Smith also became the first player in the Super Bowl era with a 70-yard completion and 70-yard run in the same game.

Kelce was only the third player in the expansion era (that is, since 1960) to catch two TD passes longer than 20 yards in the first 5 minutes of a game. The others were Walter Stanley of the Packers in 1987 (from Don Majkowski) and Lee Evans of the Bills in 2005 (from J.P. Losman).

Hill scored on plays of 79 and 40 yards. His total of nine touchdowns of 60 yards or longer ties Gale Sayers for the second most in a player’s first two seasons in the NFL. The record is 12 by Devin Hester.

West is best

Seattle’s victory over Philadelphia capped a perfect day for the NFL’s West Coast teams. This is the 21st season in which five teams have been located on the West Coast—that is, in the Pacific time zone (1976–94 and 2016–17). Sunday was the first day since October 17, 1976 on which all five West Coast teams won. On that day, Seattle recorded the first win in its history, defeated Tampa Bay in the so-called “Expansion Bowl.” It was a messy game in which 310 yards in penalties were assessed, tied for the second-highest single-game total in NFL history.

Wilson excels in the 4th quarter

Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes in the Seahawks’ 24–10 win over the Eagles, including a 15-yarder to J.D. McKissic that was Wilson’s 15th TD pass in the fourth quarter this season. That tied Eli Manning’s single-season record for fourth-quarter touchdown passes, set in 2011.

Brady sets NFL mark with 27th win vs. Buffalo

The Patriots defeated the Bills, 23–3, as Tom Brady set an all-time NFL record despite a mediocre individual performance. It was Brady’s 27th victory against Buffalo, breaking a tie with Brett Favre for the most wins as a starting quarterback against one team. Favre won 26 starts against the Lions. Ironically, it was only the second time in Brady’s last 65 starts that he threw at least one interception but no touchdown passes.

Saints RBs star in victory over Panthers

Mark Ingram gained 155 yards from scrimmage and Alvin Kamara added 122 yards in the Saints’ 31–21 win over the Panthers. It was the fourth game this season in which Ingram and Kamara both gained at least 100 yards (rushing and receiving combined), the highest total by any pair of running backs in one season for the same team since Roger Craig and Wendell Tyler did it for the 49ers in 1985.

Jones scored OT TD on his first carry of the game

Rookie Aaron Jones ran 20 yards for a touchdown to give the Packers a 26–20 victory over the Buccaneers. Jones became only the second player in NFL history to score a rushing touchdown in OT on his first carry of the game. The other was Nolan Cromwell, a four-time Pro Bowler as a safety, who did it for the Rams against the Vikings in 1979. Cromwell was the holder on a faked field-goal attempt and he scored from 5 yards out.

Mr. August sets a yardage record in first start for 49ers

Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 293 yards in his first start for the 49ers, as San Francisco earned a 15–14 victory at Chicago. Of the 44 quarterbacks to start for the Niners, Garoppolo’s passing-yardage total was the highest in his first start for the team. Even more surprising are the identities of the players to pass for at least 250 yards in their first start for San Francisco—no Tittle, Brodie, Montana, Young, or Garcia. The players are Matt Cavanaugh (252 yards in 1984), Jeff Kemp (252 in 1986), and Ty Detmer (276 in 1998).

Garoppolo started only two regular-season games in his four seasons with the Patriots, but he led the NFL in preseason passing yards during that time. Garoppolo’s four-year preseason totals: 187-for-276 (68%), 2041 yards, 11 TDs, 4 INTs for a 96.6 passer rating. His total of 11 touchdown passes was one short of the NFL preseason high during that time

Versatile Cohen scores again, this time on punt return

Tarik Cohen returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown in the Bears’ loss. Cohen is the first rookie to score on a running play, a pass play, and a kick-return TD (punt or kickoff) and also to throw a touchdown pass as a rookie since Gale Sayers did it in 1965.

High-flying offenses are no match for Vikings’ D

The Vikings allowed only three field goals in a 14–9 victory, shutting down the Falcons one week after Atlanta scored 34 points against the Buccaneers. It was the third time this season that Minnesota allowed 10 or fewer points to a team that scored more than 30 points in its previous game; the Vikings also did that in a 23–10 win over the Packers and a 24–7 victory against the Rams. Over the last 30 years, the only other teams with three such games in one season were Carolina in 2008 and Philadelphia in 2011.

Rivers now on his best form

Philip Rivers passed for 344 yards in the Chargers’ 19–10 victory over the Browns. It may have been an unremarkable home victory over a winless team, but don’t overlook the fact that Rivers has put together a string of three excellent games, completing 72 percent of his passes for 1029 yards and six TDs without an interception. That produced his highest passer rating over a span of three games (120.5) since early in the 2014 season.

Rams win a losable game with FGs and a pick-6

Blaine Gabbert had more passing yards than Jared Goff, Kerwynn Williams had more rushing yards than Todd Gurley, and Larry Fitzgerald had the game’s highest receiving-yards total. But the Rams got four field goals from Greg Zuerlein and a pick-six from Alec Ogletree in a 32–16 win at Arizona. Even during the Rams’ recent struggles, a return TD has been golden. They have won the last 10 games in which they scored a touchdown on something other than a running or passing play, compared to a 12–27 mark in all other games during that time.

Manning’s streak comes to end

The Raiders defeated the Giants, 24–14, with Geno Smith starting in place of Eli Manning for the G-men. Over Manning’s 12 full seasons as the team’s starting quarterback (2005–16), he threw 98.6 percent of the team’s passes, with only 92 passes thrown by other Giants players. That is the highest such percentage over a span of 12 seasons in NFL history. Eli’s brother Peyton recorded the second-highest mark, throwing 96.9 percent of the Colts’ passes from 1999 to 2010.

Flacco: two TD passes and no INTs

Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards, including scoring strikes to Benjamin Watson and Patrick Ricard, and he was not intercepted in the Ravens’ 44–20 win over the Lions. That ended Flacco’s streak of 37 consecutive starts without a multi-TD/no-INT game, which was the longest current streak of that kind for any active quarterback. In fact, no active QB has a current streak of even 15 straight starts without throwing for multiple TDs and no picks.

Titans even the score against Texans, so to speak

The Titans avenged a 57–14 loss at Houston on October 1 with a 24–13 victory over the Texans. It was the first time since 2000 that any team defeated an opponent after suffering a loss by at least 40 points to that team earlier in the season. Seventeen years ago, the Bears topped the Bucs after losing, 41–0, at Tampa earlier in the season.

It’s important to note that in the interim, the Jets won a second-round playoff game at New England after losing a home game to the Patriots, 45–3, during that 2010 regular season.

Miami’s defense makes headlines in victory over Broncos

Xavien Howard made two of Miami’s three interceptions, returning one 30 yards for a touchdown in the Dolphins’ 35–9 victory over the Broncos. Miami also scored on a pair of safeties, becoming only the third team in NFL history with two safeties and a pick-six in the same game. The Giants did that in a pair of shutout wins, against the Pottsville Maroons in 1927 and against the Redskins in 1961.

Campbell sets record for Jax sacks

Calais Campbell was credited with a sack in the Jaguars’ 30–10 win over the Colts, giving him a total of 12.5 this season. That breaks the team record of 12 set by Tony Brackens in 1999. Campbell’s total also matches the highest by any player since 2012 in his first season with a team. Lorenzo Alexander had 12.5 sacks in 2016, his first season with Buffalo.

Another 3rd-quarter blowout by the Warriors

The Warriors played another dominant third quarter on Sunday night, outscoring the Heat, 37–17, during those 12 minutes and turning a 62–60 halftime lead into a 99–77 advantage entering the fourth quarter. Golden State won, 123–95. It was the fourth game this season in which Steve Kerr’s squad outscored its opponent by at least 20 points in the third quarter; no other NBA team has done it more than once. And in just 24 games this season, the Warriors’ total of four such games equals the highest total by any team in any season in NBA history—except for last season’s Warriors, who set an all-time NBA record by winning the third quarter by at least 20 points seven times.

Westbrook dominates the Spurs

Russell Westbrook scored 22 points to go with 10 rebounds and 10 assists in Oklahoma City’s 90–87 win over San Antonio. It was Westbrook’s third triple-double against the Spurs in calendar year 2017; the only other opponent with a TD versus San Antonio this year is Ricky Rubio in an overtime game in March.

Vucevic finds MSG to his liking

Nikola Vucevic scored 34 points on Sunday and his two free throws in the final seconds sealed Orlando’s 105–100 over the Knicks. Vukovic, who had a 34-point game against New York three seasons ago, is only the third Magic player with a pair of 30-point performances at Madison Square Garden. The others were Nick Anderson (1994 and 1996) and Tracy McGrady (2001 and 2003).

Teague’s clean game helps T’wolves top Clippers

The Timberwolves defeated the Clippers, 112–106, despite the Clippers shooting 51 percent from the field while Minnesota made only 43 percent of its field-goal attempts. But the T’wolves committed only seven turnovers compared to 16 by the Clippers. So even though Jimmy Butler scored a season-high 33 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns and Taj Gibson both posted double-doubles, let’s recognize Jeff Teague, who was credited with 10 assists without turning the ball over. It was Teague’s first game for Minnesota with double-digits in assists and no TOs. Ricky Rubio had only three such games in six seasons with the team (all in calendar year 2016).

Wheeler’s 4-pointer fuels Jets

Blake Wheeler tied his career high for points in one game when he scored one goal and assisted on three in the Jets’ 5–0 victory against the Senators at Winnipeg. Wheeler tallied four points in a game three times in his nine years in the NHL before this season, but he has done so a league-high three times this season. The only other NHL players with more than one four-point game this season are Steven Stamkos, Brayden Schenn, and Jordan Staal with two each.

The Jets have won six straight home games and they have scored at least five goals in each of their last four home games. This is the Jets’ longest streak of consecutive home games scoring four goals or more since the team moved to Winnipeg in 2011, and it’s the second-longest such streak in franchise history, behind a five-game streak by the Thrashers in Atlanta in March/April 2006.

Kings rule in third period

The Kings extended their winning streak to a season-best five games with a 3–1 victory at Chicago, a game in which all of the goals were scored in the third period. Los Angeles has outscored its opponents 36–13 in the third period of games this season. The Kings’ plus-23 third-period goal differential is the best in the NHL this season, by far. The Maple Leafs rank second with a plus-14 mark in third periods.

A goal and a helper

Jonathan Marchessault scored one goal and then assisted on the overtime goal by Reilly Smith that earned the Golden Knights a 3–2 win against the Coyotes. It was the seventh time that Marchessault recorded at least one goal and one assist in a game this season. The only other NHL players who have done that in seven or more games this season are Nikita Kucherov (11 times), Johnny Gaudreau (9), Sidney Crosby (7), Anze Kopitar (7) and Mark Scheifele (7).

Seguin continues to crush the Avs

Tyler Seguin scored the first two goals for the Stars in their 7–2 win at Colorado. Seguin has racked up 17 points in the nine games he has played against the Avalanche over the last two seasons (11 in five games in 2016–17, six in four games this season), which ties him for the most points any NHL player has scored versus one opponent over that span. Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele has tallied 17 points against Dallas since the start of last season.