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Peterson Comes Up Just Short, Cowboys Miss Playoffs: Week 17 Storylines 0

Posted on January 01, 2013 by Andy Larmand

The final week of the 2012 NFL season was just as good as the first 16 were. With 16 division matchups on the schedule, it had it all: shutouts, blowouts, third-string quarterbacks, elimination games, records being chased and of course another opportunity for Tony Romo to choke. (He did). For the last time in 2012, your storylines from the week that was in pro football.

Eight would have been great: Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson came up eight yards shy of tying the single-season rushing record, but his Vikings are heading to the playoffs.

Eight would have been great: Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson came up eight yards shy of tying the single-season rushing record, but his Vikings are heading to the playoffs.

Adrian Peterson came within eight yards of tying and nine of breaking the NFL single-season rushing record, but with time running out in the game, Blair Walsh kicked a 29-yard field goal to break the tie  and send the Vikings to the playoffs, ending Peterson’s regular season. Minnesota defeated the Packers, 37-34, for their first win against their division rivals since 2009. The loss also ended Green Bay’s 12-game division winning streak. Peterson did become just the seventh running back to ever rush for 2,000 yards in a season as he concluded the regular season with 2,097 yards on the ground. The Packers had won nine straight regular season finales before the loss. Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdowns in a game for the fourth time this year, including two to Greg Jennings. Walsh added to his NFL record with his 10th field goal of 50-plus yards on the season. Peterson finished the season with seven 150-plus rushing games, tying the NFL record. Minnesota has made the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Packers, who finished the regular season at 11-5 and the Vikings, who finished 10-6, will play each other on Saturday in the Wild Card round.

The good news: the Colts won their regular season finale. The great news: Chuck Pagano was back on the sidelines to coach it. J.J. Watt failed to get any sacks and finished two shy of the NFL single-season record as the Texans lost to the Colts to fall all the way to the third seed in the AFC, missing the bye they had been in position for all season long. Watt finished with 20.5 sacks on the year. Houston has never won at Indianapolis – now 0-11 all-time with the 28-16 loss on Sunday. A career-long 70-yard TD pass from Andrew Luck to T.Y. Hilton on 3rd & 23 all but sealed the win for the Colts. Deji Karim returned a second-half kickoff 101 yards for Indy, their longest return since 1973. Andre Johnson tied the career record of 10-reception games set by Wes Welker last week with the 18th of his career. Reggie Wayne now has at least three catches in 64 straight games, extending his NFL record. The Colts became the seventh team to improve by nine wins in just one year, going from 2-14 in 2011 to 11-5 in 2012. Houston finished 12-4 after losing three of its last four games and will host the Bengals in the Wild Card round, while the Colts will travel to Baltimore.

The Chicago Bears have made a little history of their own as they became just the second team since 1990 to miss the playoffs after starting the season with a 7-1 record despite beating the Lions, 26-24, in Detroit and finishing with a 10-6 record. They have now missed the playoffs in five of the last six seasons. Matt Forte did rush for 1,000 yards for the third time in his career. The Lions finished a disappointing 4-12, but Matthew Stafford shattered the previous record of 691 pass attempts in a season and finished with 727. Calvin Johnson caught five balls for 72 yards and came up 36 yards short of the first ever 2,000-yard receiving season. It broke his streak of eight straight 100-yard receiving games and four straight 10-catch games, which were both NFL records. He finished the season with an NFL record 1,964 receiving yards. Chicago fired head coach Lovie Smith on Monday after a 3-5 end to the year and that has apparently prompted kick returner Devin Hester to consider retirement.

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A Week For The Record Books: Week 16 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on December 26, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Week 16 gave us plenty of gifts right before Christmas including playoff clinching performances, records being set, quarterback controversies and of course a little Tim Tebow. Like always, it was fun to watch and even more exciting for those lucky enough to be in fantasy championship games.

The Falcons became the first team in the league to reach 13 wins as they got the best of the not-so-mighty Lions, 31-18, to open the week on Thursday/Saturday/Monday Night Football. While their performance was certainly appreciated in Atlanta, it was probably overshadowed around the rest of the country as Calvin Johnson broke the 17-year receiving yards record previously held by Jerry Rice with 11 catches for 225 yards on the night. He surpassed Rice’s record of 1,848 yards and now has 1,892 with one game to go and a real shot at becoming the first ever 2,000-yard receiver. On top of that, Megatron also set NFL records with his eighth straight game of 100-plus receiving yards and fourth straight with 10-plus catches. Matthew Stafford set an NFL record for the most passing yards in a game (443) without throwing a touchdown.

No. 1: Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice's record for receiving yards in a season with 225 in his team's loss to the Falcons Saturday night.

No. 1: Calvin Johnson broke Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards in a season with 225 in his team’s loss to the Falcons Saturday night.

Atlanta did clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with the win. Their two big targets, Roddy White and Julio Jones combined for 15 catches, 224 yards and three touchdowns. White had 100-plus yards and two TD catches in the 1st half alone – the second time he’s done that in his career. Jones now has at least five catches in five straight games and has a touchdown catch in four out of five. Matt Ryan continued his dominance at home as he threw four TD passes and set a new career-high with 31 on the year, tying the Falcons single-season record. He completed his first 12 passes of the game and dating back to last week, had completed 22 straight – a Falcons record – while also tying another career-high with the four touchdown passes. With one reception, Tony Gonzalez has caught a ball in 194 straight games. The Falcons improved to 13-2 and the Lions fell to a disappointing 4-11.

Steven Jackson entered Sunday’s game against the Bucs needing 91 yards for his eighth straight 1,000-yard season, but only got 81 as the Rams won the game 28-13. Rookie Janoris Jenkins returned another interception for a touchdown – his third of the year, which tied the rookie record set back in 1981. Josh Freeman tied the Bucs’ career record for TD throws with 77, but also threw four interceptions in his second consecutive game. He also now holds the Bucs’ single season passing yards record with 3,843 through Sunday. Sam Bradford was not sacked at all for the first time in 31 games. St. Louis improved to 7-7-1 and Tampa fell to 6-9 with their fifth straight loss.

Greg McElroy made the first start of his NFL career as the Jets hosted the Chargers in a battle of disappointing AFC teams. It was the first time since 2009 that Mark Sanchez had not started a game for New York and they looked pretty good on offense to start, driving for two early Shonn Greene touchdown runs. San Diego would come back, however, behind two touchdown passes from Philp Rivers, including one to Antonio Gates, who now stands alone as the Chargers’ all-time leader in touchdown catches with 82, and hand the Jets the loss, 27-17. San Diego sacked McElroy 11 times in the win – the most by a team since 2007. McElroy was the second quarterback since the merger to be sacked 11 times in his first start. The Jets fell to 6-9 and Chargers improved to 6-9 with the win.

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An Exciting Thanksgiving Highlights Week 12 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on November 28, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Golden drumstick: Tom Brady earned Player of the Game honors for his Thanksgiving Night performance in New England’s win over the Jets.

If Thanksgiving isn’t the greatest holiday in the world, then I don’t know what is? What could be better than incredible food cooked by a mother or grandmother, family and friends and getting to watch football all day? Happy Thanksgiving.

The Lions kicked off Week 12 on Thursday afternoon in their 68th straight annual Thanksgiving Day game. They hosted the AFC-leading Texans, fresh off of their 43-point performance against the Jaguars just four days earlier. It was Detroit, however, who got out to a fast start at home as Mikel Leshoure scored a rushing touchdown on their first drive. It was the first 1st quarter rushing TD for the Lions since 2010 and just their second offensive touchdown in the 1st quarter this year. It was also the first rushing touchdown the Texans had allowed all season and the first time Detroit scored an opening-drive TD all year. So they had that to be thankful for.

The lead would not remain, however, and the Lions lost their ninth straight Thanksgiving Day game, 34-31, in overtime. That is good for the longest losing streak on Thanksgiving all-time. Entering the game, teams playing four days after an overtime game since 1987 were 4-13, but the Texans won anyway. Calvin Johnson became the seventh player in NFL history with 7,000 receiving yards in his first six seasons. With a Joique Bell touchdown run in the 4th quarter, the Lions now lead the league with 16 offensive 4th quarter touchdowns this season. With wins in their last two, the Texans improved to 3-7 all-time in overtime games after starting 1-7 in their short history. With 188 yards on Thursday, Andre Johnson now has 461 in his past two contests, the most in consecutive games in NFL history, according to Elias. The overtime period featured two turnovers and two missed field goals before Houston won it. The winning field goal was the first time they led all day. The Texans became the first team ever to win two overtime games in a five-day span.

The other yearly participant, the Cowboys hosted the Redskins in their annual Thanksgiving Day game. Like the Lions, Dallas dropped their annual contest to the Redskins 38-31. They did, however, come back from down 35-13 in the 4th quarter to make it close. With the loss, Dallas fell to 0-14 in their history when trailing by 25 points or more at the half. It was Tony Romo‘s first career home loss in the month of November (14-1) and his first ever loss on Thanksgiving (5-1). Washington was victorious on Thanksgiving Day for the first time since 1973 and won their first ever game against their division rivals on Turkey Day. Robert Griffin III threw four touchdowns in his first career Thanksgiving Day game.

On Thanksgiving Night, the Jets hosted the Patriots and were thankful when it ended as their division rivals hammered them 49-19. Julian Edelman scored two more touchdowns to bring his total to four in his past two games, which equals his total in his first 45 career games. He became the fourth player in NFL history with a receiving TD, punt return TD and fumble return TD in the same season. In the 2nd quarter, New England scored three touchdowns in 53 seconds, becoming the third team since 1970 to accomplish that, according to Elias. In their past two games, the Patriots have combined for 108 points, which is good for the third-highest two-game stretch in history. Also, the win guaranteed that the 8-3 Pats would be the only team to finish .500 or better in each of the last 12 seasons. Tom Brady threw three TD passes, extending his streak to 43 straight games with at least one.

With a chance to win their sixth straight, the Bucs took on the NFC-leading Falcons at home. Despite three Connor Barth field goals and two Atlanta turnovers, Tampa fell to their NFC South rivals, 24-23. The Bucs had a chance to win six straight games for the first time since their championship season in 2002. In the loss, rookie running back Doug Martin became the first Buccaneers player with 1,000 rushing yards and 9+ rushing touchdowns since 1995. Though they are 9-1, seven of those wins for Atlanta have come by seven points or less.

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Pour Me Some Henne: Week 11 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on November 21, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Jaguars QB Chad Henne had a career day on Sunday, throwing for 354 yards, four TD’s and no interceptions in place of Blaine Gabbert.

In the last week of football before Thanksgiving, I am thankful for first-time starters, for 59 points, for favorites holding on for their lives in overtime thrillers and for not being a Cardinals fan. I wasn’t as thankful for the Thursday Night game though.

The Bills and Dolphins kicked things off in a lackluster matchup of sub-.500 teams on Thursday Night Football with the Bills getting the win, 19-14. They did so without scoring an offensive touchdown for the first time since 2007. Marcus Thigpen became the first Dolphin to ever return a kick and a punt for a touchdown in the same season. The Bills had a punt return TD and a fumble recovery in the same game for the seventh time since 2001 and improved to 6-1 in those games. Only seven points were scored in the 2nd half with Miami getting a 4th quarter touchdown.

Sunday was a much better day, which we learned early on with three of the early eight having exciting finishes in overtime. The Texans held on for their lives as the 1-9 Jaguars gave them all they could handle in a crazy 43-37 overtime game. Matt Schaub went off for 527 yards and five touchdowns in the win – both were career highs for him and the 527 passing yards were good for the 2nd-most in a game in NFL history. Andre Johnson caught 14 balls for 273 yards and a 48-yard touchdown to win the game in overtime. Seven of his catches came in the 1st half for 132 yards. His 273 total yards marked the most in a game by a wide receiver since Terrell Owens had 283 in 2000. Houston had been down by 14 in the 4th quarter before rallying to force overtime.

Though they did make it quite a game, the Jags have now lost seven in a row after blowing a chance to salvage their season in the spoiler role. Their offense was resurrected after starter Blaine Gabbert went down and backup Chad Henne replaced him. Henne ended up throwing for 354 yards and a career-high four touchdowns – the first time a quarterback has thrown for four touchdowns and no interceptions off the bench since Steve Young did it in 1987. Henne also extended the game with a conversion on 4th & 10 in overtime. He entered the day with four total TD passes in his last five starts. Rookie receiver Justin Blackmon finally had a day worthy of a top-10 draft pick, catching seven balls for 236 yards and a touchdown. His highest yards total coming into the day was 67. His 81-yard TD catch was also good for the 2nd-longest in Jacksonville history behind Troy Edwards, who caught one from 84 yards out in 2003. With another one on Sunday, Cecil Shorts became the first player this season with four touchdown catches of 35 yards or more.

The game was only the second in NFL history to feature two 200-yard receivers. Should the Jags have been able to upset the Texans, it would have been the first time since 1985 that a team with a record of 1-8 or worse had beaten a team with a record of 8-1 or better.  Wow, that was a lot. And that’s only just the first game.

Andre Johnson caught the winning touchdown in overtime and then jumped into the crowd following Houston’s thrilling 43-37 win.

In Carolina, the Bucs came back from 21-10 down in the 2nd half to beat the Panthers 27-21 in overtime on a Josh Freeman touchdown pass to Dallas Clark. Vincent Jackson caught a touchdown pass and two-point conversion with 12 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime. Rookie running back Doug Martin rushed for 138 yards and a TD and recorded his sixth straight game with 100 or more yards from scrimmage. The win was the fifth in the last six games for Tampa Bay and their fourth in a row.

In the final overtime game, the Cowboys came back from a 13-0 halftime deficit to defeat the Browns, 23-20 in overtime. A late touchdown pass from Brandon Weeden to Benjamin Watson gave the Cowboys the ball back with too much time on the clock and they kicked a field goal to send it to overtime. Cleveland hasn’t won in Dallas since 1993. The comeback marked just the second time in Cowboys history that they have won a game they trailed by 13 points at the half. In a shocking twist, Tony Romo has not thrown an interception in any of his last three games (2-1). All three overtime losers blew double-digit leads.

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Offensive Outbursts And Injured QB’s: Week 10 NFL Storylines 1

Posted on November 15, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Ravens quarterback, Joe Flacco, accounted for four touchdowns, including one rushing, as the Ravens beat up on the Raiders, 55-20 in Baltimore Sunday.

Week 10 of the NFL season saw some of the highest point totals of the year, some of the most significant injuries and a tie. Yeah, there aren’t just ties in fútbol. There’s ties in football too, apparently. Ten teams put up 30 or more points including the Ravens who went nuts for 55 and four starting quarterbacks went down with injuries including Michael Vick, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith and Ben Roethlisberger. There were also some upsets on the day as the Saints held on to end the undefeated season of the Falcons and the Bengals took care of the Super Bowl champion Giants by 18 points.

The Colts and rookie quarterback, Andrew Luck, continued to roll as they handled the Jaguars 27-10 and won their fourth straight to kick off the week on Thursday night. Luck rushed for two touchdowns in a game for the second time this year and now has five rushing TD’s this season. The rest of the Colts’ team has combined for two. Peyton Manning has never rushed for two touchdowns in a game. Luck’s six wins on the year are tied for the second most by a rookie quarterback drafted No. 1 overall. Indy improved to 9-1 on Thursday Night games since the merger, which is the best win percentage of any NFL team.

The Ravens scored a franchise-record 55 points in their win over Oakland, who has still never beaten Baltimore on the road (0-4). Their offensive outburst was sure welcomed as they had scored less than 20 points three times on the year before Sunday. Joe Flacco threw for 341 yards in the win after he had combined to throw for just 300 in the team’s previous two games. The weird thing though was that Carson Palmer threw for 27 more yards than Flacco. The Raiders allowed a franchise-high 48 points through three quarters and the 55 points they gave up was good for a new franchise record. In the win, Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones became the first player in NFL history with two career kickoff returns of at least 105 yards for touchdowns, according to Elias.

Denver was another team to win big as they took care of the Panthers 36-14 while forcing two turnovers and registering two returns (and interception and a punt) for touchdowns on the day. The aforementioned Manning tied Dan Marino for the third-most wins by a quarterback (147) and for the second-most career TD passes with 420. The playoff-bound Broncos improved to 6-3 following their fourth straight win.

The Bucs also put up 34 points in their win over the Chargers and climbed over the .500 mark in the process at 5-4. In fact, the win marked the first ever by Tampa Bay at home against San Diego (1-5). Bucs’ rookie running back, Doug Martin, rushed for 68 yards on the day. Over his last three games, he has accumulated 605 yards from scrimmage, which is a new NFL record.

In the upset of the day, the Saints beat the previously undefeated Falcons at home, 31-27. With a 2nd quarter TD pass to Jimmy Graham, Drew Brees extended his NFL-record streak to 52 straight games with a touchdown pass. Tony Gonzalez caught both his 100th career touchdown and his 1200th career pass in the game for the 8-1 Falcons.  Marques Colston‘s TD catch in the 3rd quarter was the 55th of his career, which tied Deuce McAllister for the most in Saints history. In the past 10 years, Atlanta is now 1-45 when trailing by 11 or more points in the 2nd half.

Drew Brees and the Saints knocked off the undefeated Falcons for their fourth win in five games.

In Foxboro, the Patriots held on to beat the Bills, 37-31, thanks to a late interception by Devin McCourty in the endzone. Tom Brady improved to 20-2 in his career against Buffalo and the team improved to 10-3 under Bill Belichick following a bye week. Like Brees, Brady also kept his consecutive games with a touchdown streak alive at 41, throwing for two on the day. The Pats have never lost to the Bills at Gillette Stadium and Buffalo has not won on the road at New England since Nov. 5, 2000. New England has won 21 straight home games against AFC opponents.

In a division game that the Lions really needed, they fell to Minnesota 34-24 on the road and dropped to 4-5 on the year. Adrian Peterson rushed for 171 yards and became the first Viking in history to rush for 1,000 yards five times. He has had four straight 100 yard games less than a year after major knee surgery and furthered his case for NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Calvin Johnson finally had a huge game as he caught a season-high 12 balls for a season-high 207 yards and tied his season high with one touchdown.

Down south, the Titans had a day they’d like to see more of as Jake Locker returned and led them to a 37-3 beatdown against the Dolphins. He threw for two touchdowns, but just 122 yards in his return to the team. The 34-point loss for Miami marked the first time that they have lost by 34 or more points at home since the Chiefs had their way with them in 1968. Chris Johnson recorded rushing touchdowns in back-to-back games for the first time since Weeks 14-15 in 2010.

In the day’s other upset, the Bengals crushed the Giants 31-13. The G-Men fell to 0-6 all-time in Cincinnati and Eli Manning went his third straight game without throwing a touchdown pass (1-2). With two straight losses to open the month, Manning fell to 13-19 in November for his career, but is 27-5 in October. He also became just the fifth QB since 1982 to go three straight games without a touchdown pass at any point during the season after winning the Super Bowl, according to Elias. New York allowed just two 1st quarter touchdowns in their first nine games, but allowed two to the Bengals in the first five minutes of this one. Andy Dalton‘s four TD passes were a career-high for the second-year pro. A.J. Green caught a touchdown pass in his eighth straight game as he looks to keep that streak up on his way to the Pro Bowl.

The other team from New York didn’t fare much better. After predicting his 3-5 Jets would make the playoffs, Antonio Cromartie backed it up by letting the Seahawks get in the endzone four times in Seattle’s 28-7 win over the Jets. New York has lost three straight and in their last two games, they have been outscored 58-16. Sunday marked the first time since 1983 that the Jets and Giants have both lost by 18 or more points on the same day. Since Week 15 last season, the Jets are 3-9. Only the Jags and Browns have worse records during that span.

If you haven’t heard, the 49ers and Rams played to the first tie since the Eagles and Bengals finished 13 all in 2008. The 49ers had won 11 straight home games against division opponents, which was good for the longest active such streak in the NFL. San Fran didn’t get off to a very good start and trailed by 14 after one for the first time since 2006. For the Rams, it would have been the first time since the 2003-04 season that they had won three divisional games in a row. Their punter, Johnny Hekker, became the first punter with two pass completions in a game since 2004. The last time the 49ers finished in a tie was in 1986 and the last time for the Rams was in 1976. Alex Smith left the game for San Francisco with a concussion and is questionable for next week. In an interesting subplot, 1:12 of game clock was used in the 1st half during a measurement that no one seemed to see any reason in stopping the clock. Hmm, that time may have been valuable!

We knew 49ers head coach, Jim Harbaugh, wasn’t a big fan of losing, but it doesn’t look like he enjoys tying all that much either.

In the primetime slot, the Cowboys and Eagles met with both teams being below .500 for the first time since 1990 with each of them desperately needing a win. With 21 points in 2:35 in the 2nd half, Dallas bested their division rivals 38-23 to improve to 4-5 while Philly fell to 3-6. Since 1990, only 1.4 percent of teams to start a season 3-6 have gone on to make the playoffs. To make things worse for Philly, they lost Michael Vick to a concussion as well. Though listed as doubtful, he hasn’t officially been ruled out for Week 11, but rookie, Nick Foles, is expected to get the start against the Redskins. The Eagles have lost five straight games for the first time since 1998 and for the first time under head coach, Andy Reid.

Shockingly enough for Cowboys fans, Tony Romo went his second straight game without committing a turnover and also recorded his first game this season with multiple TD passes and no interceptions. Big day for Dallas. The Cowboys became the first team since 1966 to score a touchdown on an interception return, a fumble recovery and a punt return in the same quarter.

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Week 8 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on October 31, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Matt Ryan’s three 1st half touchdowns helped the Falcons improve to 7-0 with a Week 8 victory over the Eagles.

It was a week for offenses to shine in Week 8 as five NFL teams picked up wins by 20 or more points and a total of five teams put up 30 or more points.

The 49ers, Broncos, Patriots, Dolphins and Bucs all won by 20 or more and those teams with the exception of the 49ers all put up 30 or more points. The Falcons also put up 30 against the Eagles en route to their seventh win of the year while staying undefeated.

Atlanta became the sixth NFL team to start a season 7-0 and score at least 23 points in each of those games. They also improved to 15-0 when Matt Ryan throws three or more touchdown passes in a game. Philly had been 13-0 following bye weeks under head coach, Andy Reid.

The Saints couldn’t win their third straight and fell to 2-5, but Drew Brees threw a touchdown pass in his 50th straight game to extend his own record. New Orleans fell to Denver 34-14 on Sunday night. Peyton Manning and the Broncos improved to 4-3 and it was the first time that they have won back-to-back games this year.

Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, didn’t let the time change or long flight to London affect him as he also threw a touchdown pass again and this marks 40 straight games for him – still 10 behind Brees for the all-time record. More notable for the Patriots, they gained 473 yards of total offense against the Rams, marking the 17th straight game that they have recorded more than 350. This broke the all-time record set by those Rams in 1999-00.

The Patriots’ offensive explosion left plenty of storylines and it was hard to just pick a few. The 45-7 win for New England was the largest of the weekend and in two games in London since 2009, the Pats have outscored their opponents 80-14 (beat Tampa 35-7 in 2009).

Four different Pats scored touchdowns and both Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Lloyd caught two apiece. It was the 50th time that Brady has had a game with three or more touchdown passes, which is good for fourth all-time. Wes Welker recorded at least one reception in his 102nd straight game. Believe it or not, the Rams scored the first seven points of the game before New England rifled off 45 unanswered.

The last two times Bill Belichick and Jeff Fisher have met, Belichick has outscored him 104-7. Also, Rams receiver, Chris Givens, caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Sam Bradford and now has a 50+ yard reception in five straight games. Bradford was also sacked at least once in his 24th straight game.

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