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Murray’s Signing with Eagles Reveals Sacrifices on Both Sides 0

Posted on March 18, 2015 by Chris Kent
DeMarco Murray's aggressive running style was a big reason for the Cowboys' success in 2014.

DeMarco Murray gave the Cowboys consistent production on the ground in 2014 as they went 12-4 and won the NFC East.

Loyalty.

While it is extremely rare in today’s National Football League – as well as in sports in general – it is never meant to be forgotten. Furthermore, just because it is rare, doesn’t mean it should be ignored, devalued, or even taken lightly. While money is what players are after today – at times legitimately so – they should not base their contract decisions on that entirely or even make it their prime objective. Players seek lucrative contracts without considering that their search for green is much more of a sacrifice than they realize.

Such is the case with what transpired with the Dallas Cowboys and their negotiations last week with free agent running back DeMarco Murray. In a situation that came down to the limitations of the salary cap and the economic climate of franchises and the league, Murray’s negotiations were not fiscally conducive to the Cowboys’ payroll. In the end, Murray opted to sign a five-year $42 million contract with the NFC-East rival Philadelphia Eagles. The contract is structured with $21 million in guaranteed salary.

While the days of loyalty – for the most part – are long gone in this money-driven world of sports, that does not mean that everyone has to operate by that or agree with it. Plenty of professional athletes have taken pay cuts or restructured their contracts to help management re-sign players or extend contracts in an effort to remain fiscally sound, competitive, and be able to realistically contend for a championship. Even after NFL free agency began in 1993, loyalty was still seen in the mid and late 1990’s with pro bowl quarterbacks like Steve Young, Troy Aikman, and John Elway taking pay cuts or re-negotiating their long-term contracts in order to free up cap space to help their teams re-sign players to new deals. This allowed core players to stay together longer giving teams a better chance of maintaining their winning ways.

While it is possible to see raises given out by ownership and management in today’s world of salary cap constraints, it is just something that doesn’t happen as much. Everybody has a ceiling and that ceiling can’t always be continually raised. Yet, the Murray negotiations raise a question about sacrifice. Is it better to sacrifice for money and personal gain, or for a team and the success of an organization? Kind of sounds like that typical job interview question of, “Are you a team player or are you focused on individual acclaim?” While it is possible for any individual, especially a talented one, to achieve individually within the team concept, one would think that most employers want to hear that you are a team player.

I don’t mean to say Murray is not a team player. However in terms of business, I think he let Dallas down here. I also think Murray let himself down. Letting one entity down is bad enough. However letting both your team and yourself down is horrible and just does not make any sense. Sacrifice is huge in life. Murray did not negotiate wisely in these contract discussions because he did not know what sacrifice was all about.

Murray high stepped one in for a touchdown during a win over the Saints on Sunday Night Football in 2014.

Murray high stepped one in for a touchdown during a win over the Saints on Sunday Night Football in 2014.

When Murray signed with the Eagles, he sacrificed team success for personal gain. Now an Eagle, he could go on and reach statistical milestones and with it secure monetary rewards. He could be the face of a franchise that now looks as though it needs one after all the turnover they have had in personnel so far this offseason. He could rank among the league leaders in rushing statistics year in and year out. He could be a perennial pro bowl player. He could have all that and more but not necessarily play on a team that has a real shot at winning a Super Bowl Championship or two.

The Cowboys represented Super Bowl Championship potential for Murray and one has to wonder if he sacrificed this opportunity by not re-signing with them. With a young, strong, and now experienced offensive line anchored by pro bowl left tackle Tyron Smith to run behind, the sky was the limit for Murray and Dallas. The future was also now for Murray and the Cowboys. Furthermore, the balance of an offense featuring veteran talent with quarterback Tony Romo, wide receiver Dez Bryant, tight end Jason Witten, and speedy wide receiver Terrance Williams should have been plenty to keep Murray in Dallas. Top-rated players in cornerback Brandon Carr, linebacker Rolando McClain, and defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence made for a good defense that has the potential to be better in 2015 when linebacker Sean Lee is scheduled to return after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Add in a heavily reliable kicker in Dan Bailey and the team has production all over the place. All these parts along with Murray made the Cowboys a complete and balanced squad in 2014. Murray both provided and benefitted from this balance and chemistry. Murray now leaves this behind and that has to leave him with a sour feeling when he had formed such a strong bond with teammates like Bryant and Romo. All Murray had to do to keep this productive unit intact was settle for somewhere between $4 and $6 million a year.

With Romo and Witten – both of who were drafted in 2003 – aging but still more than capable of playing, the window is at least somewhat shrinking for Dallas being able to win a Super Bowl with its’ current core players. The Cowboys’ chances to win the Lombardi Trophy in 2015 would probably be greater with Murray in place. While Dallas will still be a good team next season and beyond, how good will largely depend on whether or not they sign another premium running back.

By leaving the Cowboys, Murray is going into unknown territory with not only a new team, but a new offensive system. Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly has done an about face on offense via trades and free agency. Gone are quarterback Nick Foles, running back LeSean McCoy, and wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. In is an unproven quarterback in Sam Bradford who has suffered two torn left ACL’s. Bradford initially was dealt the injury in the seventh game of the 2013 season before suffering the same injury during a preseason game last year causing him to miss the entire 2014 season. Although Bradford and Murray both played together at Oklahoma where they were roommates, this does not guarantee that they will succeed in Philadelphia. The Eagles will have to likely add some other pieces and see how Bradford and Murray complement each other in Kelly’s open field and up tempo offense.

As if all that was not enough, there are more reasons that Murray should of stayed in Dallas. What about keeping intact what you are a part of and have helped to build? Murray became a focal point of the Cowboys’ offense in 2014. For the first time in years, Dallas had a prime threat at running back to take pressure off of Romo and the passing game. What about continuing to excel with your same team, one that you had cemented a place on and provided it with so much chemistry and balance? What about the image and prestige that goes along with playing for a team that has such a strong history at your position? Walt Garrison, Don Perkins, Duane Thomas, Calvin Hill, Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, and the legendary Emmitt Smith each made their marks as running backs for the Cowboys. Dorsett and Smith are in the pro football hall of fame and along with Perkins are each in the team’s ring of honor. What about the fans and continuing to make them proud and happy? What about the pedigree that the Dallas franchise gives you and with it the platform to develop and market your name? These are all good things or factors that represent good opportunities that Murray could of taken advantage of to attain both team and individual goals. He has now left all of that behind and sacrificed it for money and statistics.

Signing with the Eagles also represents risk and sacrifice for Murray in terms of what he is going into. What about the uncertainties of fitting into a new team in terms of its’ coaches, players, and staff? What about navigating around a new team’s strengths and weaknesses, fitting into its’ offensive and defensive schemes, identifying with the culture in the locker room, and adjusting to a new city? Yes, new surroundings can sometimes not mesh well with players’ off-the-field activities. Sound and wise judgment is needed here which can be easier said than done.

Facing the arch rival Redskins in Washington, Murray breaks free. He set a Cowboys single season rushing record during the victory by running for 100 yards on 20 carries.

Facing the arch rival Redskins in Washington, Murray breaks free. He set a Cowboys single season rushing record during the victory by running for 100 yards on 20 carries.

This negotiation came down to money and market value for Murray who is coming off a breakout season in which he lead the league with 1,845 yards rushing which surpassed the single-season club record of Smith, the NFL’s all-time leading rusher. Cowboys’ owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones and Executive Vice President/COO/Director of Player Personnel Stephen Jones – Jerry’s son – negotiated this contract which seemed to be fair in regards to Murray rising to the top of the league’s rushing charts in 2014. Dallas had offered Murray a four-year deal worth $16 million for $4 million a year. This was a significant increase from the four-year $2.9 million contract that he signed after the Cowboys drafted the former Oklahoma running back in the third round in 2011. That contract included a signing bonus of $662,500.00 and paid Murray an average salary of $743,360.00. Murray made $1.4 million in base salary in 2014.

So surely, Jones and his son knew they were going to have to raise their offer if they had any hopes of re-signing Murray. They did. However once Murray started reaching out to the open market, his services became invaluable and of sizeable demand. Murray initiated some of this by making a personal phone call to Kelly as reported by ESPN and the NFL Network last week. In response to that, Dallas did raise its’ offer to Murray from $4 million a year to closer to $6 million a year. However Murray was able to find what he had sought and that in the end could not even be matched by Jones and company at Valley Ranch. So both Murray and the Cowboys moved on. Yet, this transaction begs the question, what if?

What if there was no salary cap in place in the NFL? In an announcement that was posted on www.dallascowboys.com on March 12, the team’s owner explained how the negotiations with Murray evolved and why Dallas did not elect to raise their offer in an effort to re-sign him.

“We are very grateful to DeMarco Murray for his contributions to the Dallas Cowboys,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “He is a quality person, a very good football player, and a player that we wanted to keep.”

“We have great appreciation for his skills, and if there was no salary cap in place, DeMarco would be a Cowboy,” Jones added. “This came down to an allocation of dollars within the management of the salary cap.”

“Obviously there is emotion involved in these decisions, but it is critical that there must be discipline involved as well. If it were a question of having an open checkbook with no salary cap constraints, we all know things would have worked out differently,” Jones stated.

“We have recently made significant commitments to top players who are currently on the team, specifically at key positions such as quarterback, left tackle, and wide receiver, and we were comfortable with the offer that we made to DeMarco to include him in that structure.”

“These are difficult decisions that are part of the NFL. They are decisions that take into account the entire team, the current economic structure of the team, and the financial concerns for the short and long term future of the team,” Jones said.

“At the end of the day, this is about finding the best way to collectively fit all of the individual pieces together, in terms of talent, offensive players, defensive players and dollars—under the salary cap structure—that gives you the best chance to have a championship team,” Jones concluded.

Murray and Dez Bryant posed a stellar one-two punch on offense while playing together for four years in Dallas.

Murray and Dez Bryant posed a stellar one-two punch on offense while playing together for four years in Dallas.

Jones points are well taken and make a lot of sense. Murray should of considered all of this before it reached this point because Philadelphia does not possess the same productivity or talent as Dallas. Murray seemed to be more of the stickler here on money. However money does not guarantee one’s place among NFL fame when it comes to credibility, success, championships, statistics, recognition, productivity, lore, or community presence. Those are all important factors that I think players should rate ahead of money, even though they want to get paid market value.

In Murray’s case, this is a critical time in his career. Having already played four years, he is in his prime and these next four to five years will determine how distinguished he becomes. Even though it was time for him to get paid, $4 million a year was a good increase from his initial four-year contract. Murray had to of been looking at the contracts of other top running backs including that of Minnesota Viking Adrian Peterson, regarded as the top running back in the game today. Peterson – who has been mentioned as a player the Cowboys might seek to acquire this offseason – is scheduled to earn $12.75 million next season.

Regardless of all that, Murray still had plenty of reasons to stay in Dallas. There was a big increase in pay even at the $4 to $6 million range that Jones was offering. Plus, one super season does not make a running back’s career, or any player for that matter. Murray and the Cowboys had such a good thing going for the team and now the entire organization is left to pick up the pieces.

So there are no guarantees that Philadelphia will present Murray with the same opportunity for individual or team success that he was having and was still in position to attain in Dallas. I mean, not every team in the NFL has the same pedigree as the Cowboys. Dallas has played in eight Super Bowls which ties them with the Steelers and Patriots for the most appearances all-time. They are one of a handful of all-time great franchises in the history of professional football. In all of sports, the Cowboys are consistently mentioned as one of the most prestigious, successful, and recognizable entities. They are acknowledged in the professional sports world as being on par with The New York Yankees, The Green Bay Packers, The Boston Celtics, and the Montreal Canadiens. This strong association continues in the college ranks with Dallas being on par with the likes of the University of Notre Dame for its’ football heritage and UCLA for its dominance in men’s basketball. Playing for an organization with that kind of prestigious history and pedigree is paramount to gaining revered and legendary status. Murray was on his way to doing so with the Cowboys following his breakout season of 2014. One can only hope that he still has a productive career in Philadelphia and let that take him where it may. However his chance for having both productivity and indelible fame were much greater in Dallas. Yes, loyalty and sacrifice are significant.

Panthers Embarrass Giants, Body Parts Lost: Week 3 NFL Headlines 1

Posted on September 24, 2013 by Andy Larmand

As September continues to move toward October, this NFL season is providing us with some truths that stand the test of time and some that have and will continue to shock us all. And then, there are the teams or players who break the norm – finally. Week 3 saw the end of an almost-century-long losing streak, the worst loss ever for one head coach, a potential Cinderella story getting to 3-0, a first for the 49ers since 1958, and the Jaguars, well, being the Jaguars. Here are your Week 3 NFL headlines.

Alex Smith in Kansas City is working out all right so far as KC is 3-0.

Alex Smith in Kansas City is working out all right so far as KC is 3-0.

The Eagles lost their eighth straight game at home and the Chiefs, led by former Eagles coach, Andy Reid, improved to 3-0 with a 26-16 win to open the week on Thursday night. It is just the second time Philly has ever lost eight in a row at home and first time since 1936-37. Lesean McCoy managed his third-highest rushing total in the loss, but only second-highest of the season with 158 yards and Michael Vick posted a career-high 61-yard run. The Chiefs joined the 2002 Panthers as the last team to start a season 3-0 after winning two or fewer games the year before. Alex Smith became the first Kansas City signal caller to win his first three starts with the team since Joe Montana in 1993.

Calvin Johnson tied Torry Holt as the fourth-fastest player to accumulate 8,000 career receiving yards as he did so in his 95th career game and Detroit beat the Redskins, 27-20. The win was the first ever for the Lions in the city of Washington (1-21) as they had not beaten the Redskins on the road since they were in Boston in 1935. The Skins fell to 0-3, but Robert Griffin III’s 975 yards through three games are the second-most all-time by a quarterback who started out 0-3. Matthew Stafford became just the second quarterback since 2001 to throw for 200-plus yards in the first half of each of his first three games of a season. Read the rest of this entry →

Peterson Keeps Running, Seattle Keeps Scoring: Week 15 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on December 20, 2012 by Andy Larmand

This week of NFL football was one of the best ever according to pregame statistics. Six out of the 16 games featured teams with .500 records or better facing off in the third week of December. It really was fun to watch.

Philadelphia couldn't get out of its own way Thursday night as punter Mat McBriar (1) kicked the ball into the back of his own teammate.

Flight risk: The Eagles couldn’t get out of their own way Thursday night as punter Mat McBriar (1) kicked the ball into the back of his own teammate.

Week 14 kicked off with the Eagles losing for the ninth time in 10 games and falling to 4-10 in an embarrassing 34-13 defeat at the hands of the Bengals in which they turned the ball over five times for the second time this year. BenJarvus Green-Ellis became a 1,000-yard rusher for the second time in his career as he opened the game with a 29-yard run for Cincinnati, who improved to 8-6 and is in position to grab the final wild card spot. The carry led to a touchdown – the Bengals’ seventh opening drive TD of the year – which is most in the NFL. They also haven’t allowed a 1st quarter touchdown in 11 games. Cincy improved to 8-3-1 all time against the Eagles – the highest win percentage of any team against Philly. The last time the Eagles lost 10 games in a season was 2005. This year, they have led just once following the 1st quarter and have been outscored 82-24 in the opening frame. Cincinnati improved to 13-1 in the regular season since 2001 when leading by 10-plus points after the 1st quarter. With his 11th touchdown, A.J. Green became just the third Bengal to ever catch that many in a season. Jeremy Maclin is now the all-time leader in receptions in a player’s first four years in Eagles’ history with 246. The Eagles turned the ball over three times on four offensive plays in the 3rd quarter at a time when they were very much in the game. They also forced their first turnover in five weeks.

Clay Matthews returned for the NFC North-leading Packers in their crucial tilt against the Bears and contributed six tackles, including four for a loss, as well as two sacks as Green Bay improved to 10-5 and clinched the division for the second straight year. Aaron Rodgers reached 30 TD passes for the third time in his career and became just the third QB to ever record three such seasons before the age of 30. James Jones caught all three of the touchdowns for his fourth multiple-TD game this year – the most of any player in the league. Green Bay has won 12 straight division games and also won eight of nine, while Chicago has now lost five of six. They are in danger of becoming just the second team since 1990 to miss the playoffs following a 7-1 start as they now have a record of 8-6.

Fellow rookie Kirk Cousins led the Redskins against the Browns as they looked to jump into a first place tie in the NFC East with the Giants in the absence of Robert Griffin III. A 54-yard pass from Cousins to Leonard Hankerson gave Washington seven touchdown passes this season longer than 50 yards – they had six from 2007-2011 combined. Trent Richardson rushed for two more touchdowns and now is the Browns all-time leader in rushing touchdowns by a rookie with nine. He has six TD’s in his last four games. Washington has won five straight and sit at 8-6 as they ended Cleveland’s three-game winning streak and dropped them to 5-9. Rookie Alfred Morris tied the Redskins rookie record for rushing touchdowns with his eighth of the season. Cousins’ 329 yards are six more than Griffin has thrown for in any game this season. Washington now controls its own destiny in the three-way tie atop the NFC East.

Matt Ryan began the game 8-8, hitting six different receivers and throwing a touchdown as his Falcons got out to a 14-0 1st quarter lead over the defending champion Giants. They would go on to win 34-0 and improve to 12-2 in the worst shutout loss by a defending Super Bowl champion ever. It was the third time that New York, who fell to 8-6, has trailed 14-0 in the 1st quarter this year. With a 12-yard touchdown catch in the 1st, Tony Gonzalez recorded at least one reception in 193 straight games, the second-longest streak ever. Julio Jones went over 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in his career and also caught his first TD at home this season, finishing with six catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Though they out-gained the Falcons by 64 yards in the 1st half, the Giants trailed 17-0 at the break due to a missed field goal and two failed 4th down attempts. Atlanta hasn’t lost back-to-back games since 2009. Ryan beat a defending Super Bowl champion at home for the first time in his career. The last time the Giants had been shut out was Dec. 1, 1996 – 257 games ago. The 34-point defeat was the largest for New York since a 37-point loss to the Vikings in 2009. The Falcons beat the Giants at home for the first time since 1978.

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Sanchez Finally Benched: Week 13 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on December 05, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Mark Sanchez may have pulled off a miracle by remaining in the New York lineup for 12 weeks, but it appears his reign as starter may be over after being replaced in the 2nd half of Sunday’s game. Surprisingly, without “butt fumble” in there, the Jets got a win. So did 15 other teams.

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez may have finally found something he’s good at: holding the clipboard and keeping Tim Tebow (left) company on the New York bench.

The Saints traveled to Atlanta to take on the division-leading Falcons on Thursday night in a game that they had to have to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. Drew Brees, however, threw FIVE interceptions and saw his NFL-record streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass end at 54 in a row. This was the first time since Oct. 4, 2009 that Brees did not throw a touchdown pass in a game and the first time he, or any Saints quarterback, has ever thrown five picks. Roddy White had no catches in the 1st half for the first time in his last 78 games. His first catch came with less than two minutes left in the 3rd quarter.  With four on the night, tight end Tony Gonzalez now has at least 70 receptions in 10 straight seasons, tying the NFL record, and 13th season overall, tying that record as well. Matt Bryant made a 55-yard field goal in the 4th quarter and has now been good on his last seven kicks of 50 yards or more. Atlanta improved to 11-1 with the 23-13 win and has won 46 of 47 games when holding a lead at any point in the 4th quarter. The Falcons converted on just one 3rd down in the game (1-11). With the Tampa Bay loss to Denver, the Falcons clinched the NFC South for the second time in three seasons.

Stevan Ridley scored a rushing touchdown in his fifth straight game as the Patriots improved to 9-3 and won the AFC East, beating the Dolphins 23-16 in South Florida. Tom Brady did throw his first interception in his last 202 passing attempts in the 1st quarter – that had been the longest active streak in the NFL. He also threw a touchdown pass in his 44th straight game – the longest active streak in the NFL since Brees’ was snapped on Thursday night. With a second quarter reception, Wes Welker went over 1,00 yards receiving for the fifth time in his career, extending his Patriots record and he tied Jerry Rice‘s all-time record with 17 10-reception games. He had 10 catches for 89 yards…in the 1st half! If that wasn’t enough his 12 catches for 103 yards got him to the 10-catch, 100-yard mark for the 16th time in his illustrious career – the most all-time. Ridley became the 12th Patriot to run for 1,000 yards in a season. The Patriots clinched the AFC East for the fourth straight year and have won 20 straight games in the second half of the season. Brady became the first QB in NFL history to win 10 division titles. Finally, the Pats have won 12 straight regular season December games, dating back to 2009 and are currently on a six-game winning streak.

Something had to give in the Meadowlands as the 4-7 Jets hosted the 4-7 Cardinals – losers of seven straight following their undefeated start. It certainly was not a pretty thing to watch. Sanchez gave Brees a run for his money, throwing three interceptions in a game that ended 7-6 in their favor. He was finally pulled by Rex Ryan, but not for Tim Tebow – for Greg McElroy, who promptly threw a TD pass. Tebow was inactive for the game with a rib injury. The Cardinals have lost eight straight following this ugly game. New York improved to 4-111 in their history when scoring seven points or less in a game. Arizona did not convert on a 3rd down the entire day (0-15). The Jets improved to 1-6 all-time in games that Sanchez has thrown three or more interceptions. The two teams combined for more punts (16) than points.

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Martin, Marshall and Mikel Headline Week 9 NFL Storylines 1

Posted on November 06, 2012 by Andy Larmand

Buccaneers’ rookie running back, Doug Martin, had a day for the ages on Sunday, rushing for 251 yards and four touchdowns in Tampa Bay’s 42-32 win over the Raiders.

In case anyone forgot why we love this game so much, here are a few incredible achievements, outcomes and performances to remind us all.

Tampa Bay rookie running back, Doug Martin had perhaps the performance of the year in the Bucs’ 42-32 win over the Raiders on Sunday. Martin ran the ball 25 times for a franchise-record 251 yards and not one, not two, not three, but four touchdowns. He was responsible for 24 out of Tampa Bay’s 42 points and 220 of those yards came in the 2nd half. The 251 yards was good fir the third-most all-time by a rookie behind Demarco Murray and Adrian Peterson. If you don’t know Doug Martin, now you know.

Not surprisingly, this performance gave him the top spot in fantasy football leagues this week, as he racked up 51, yes 51, points in standard ESPN leagues. He became just the third Tampa running back to ever rush for 200 yards in a game. He also became the first Buc to rush for 130 yards in consecutive games. More importantly, the Bucs won just their fourth ever game in the state of California.

Wow. Talk about Andrew Luck or RG3 being offensive Rookie of the Year may just have to be put on hold as Martin has combined for 386 yards and five touchdowns in the past two weeks. He has a total of 794 yards on the year, is the top rookie runner in the league after nine weeks and is second overall, trailing only Peterson, who incidentally had a huge day himself on Sunday, running for 182 yards and two scores on just 17 carries.

Chicago’s Brandon Marshall and Detroit’s Mikel Leshoure also had huge days in wins by their respective teams. Marshall caught nine balls for 122 yards and three touchdowns in the Bears‘ 51-20 drubbing of the Titans and Leshoure ran 16 times for 70 yards and three scores of his own as the Lions bested the Jaguars 31-14. It was the first time since 2008 that a Lions player had scored three rushing touchdowns in a game. Matthew Stafford reached 10,000 career passing yards in his 37th career game and became the 2nd-fastest to ever do it behind Kurt Warner, who did it in 36 games.

In that Bears win, Brian Urlacher picked off a Matt Hasselbeck pass and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown. This marked the seventh interception return for a touchdown by the Bears D this season, just two shy of the all-time NFL single-season record. The 51 points the Bears scored are their most since they scored 61 against the Packers in 1980. Titans running back, Chris Johnson, scored on an 80-yard run in the 4th quarter. Two weeks ago, Johnson ran for his fourth career score of 80 yards or more, breaking an NFL record. His fifth adds to his own record.

The Giants and Steelers played an exciting one in East Rutherford as Pittsburgh, trailing 20-10 entering the 4th quarter, scored the game’s final 14 points to win 24-20. For a change, Ben Roethlisberger, and not Eli Manning, led his team to a 4th quarter comeback. Sorry, I don’t have a stat that says how many 4th quarter leads Manning has blown. Steelers running back, Isaac Redman ran 26 times for 147 yards and a TD as both Rashard Mendenhall and Jonathan Dwyer were out with injuries. With their 35 rushing attempts in the game, Pittsburgh improved to 17-1 under Mike Tomlin when running the ball at least 35 times in a game. Due to Hurricane Sandy, the Steelers only got to New Jersey on Sunday morning.

Out west, maybe they are who we thought they were, as the Cardinals have lost their fifth straight game after a 4-0 start. Without Kevin Kolb, they are forced to start John Skelton, who is 0-4 in four starts since Kolb went down. They fell 31-17 to the Packers at Lambeau Field and still have never won a game there (0-6).

Elsewhere, the aforementioned Luck, has the Colts over .500. They beat the Dolphins, who had won three straight, 23-20 on Sunday for their third straight win. After reaching the 4-3 mark last week, Indy is over .500 for the first time since the end of Peyton Manning’s last season in 2010. Luck became the second rookie in NFL history with four 300-yard passing games in his first year. The other? Manning. Luck finished with 433 passing yards on the day – a new rookie record. He also has four 4th quarter or overtime game-winning drives through eight games. The four other rookie QB’s have combined for four among them. And if that wasn’t enough, Luck’s 2,404 passing yards through his first eight games are the most ever by a rookie.

Cowboys tight end, Jason Witten tied and broke the team’s all-time receptions record in Sunday night’s loss to the undefeated Falcons as he caught seven balls for 51 yards to bring his career total to 754. He passed Michael Irvin, who was the Cowboys’ leader with 751, for the honor. The Falcons did get the win and improved to 8-0 as the last undefeated team left in the league. Six of the last 14 teams to open a season 8-0 have won the Super Bowl. Matt Ryan improved to 30-4 in his career at home, the best home win percentage (.882) by a quarterback since the merger. Tony Gonzalez became just the second player ever to register 15 50-reception seasons. The other is Jerry Rice.

The Panthers finally got their second win of the season as Cam Newton’s squad got the best of Robert Griffin’s, 21-13. Griffin did outperform Newton both in the air and on the ground, however as he and running back, Alfred Morris, became the first pair of rookie teammates to each rush for 500 yards in a season since 1976 and it is the first time ever that this has happened with one of the rushers being a quarterback. Interestingly, the Redskins have not won their last game before Election Day since 1992.

The Bills fell 21-9 to the Texans as defensive tackle, Mario Williams, made his return to Houston. He led Buffalo with seven tackles (two for a loss) and recorded one of their two sacks. For the first time in five weeks, the Bills allowed less than 175 rushing yards as they only surrendered 118.

The week started off with the Chargers scoring 21 4th quarter points to beat the Chiefs 31-13 in a battle of struggling AFC West teams. Kansas City has lost five in a row and still has not led at any point in their eight games this season (1-7). This is the first time since 1929 that has happened, according to Elias.

San Diego had lost three in a row after beating the Chiefs 37-20 in Week 4. Antonio Gates caught his 79th career touchdown, leaving him two behind the Chargers all-time record of 81 set by Lance Alworth. Though they only gave up a single touchdown to San Diego, the Chiefs have now been outscored 61-6 in the 1st quarter this season. Philip Rivers threw his first red-zone interception of the year, but also set a Chargers record by completing 90% of his passes (18-20).

The Broncos beat the Bengals 31-23 and improved to 5-3 atop the AFC West. The Bengals fell to 3-5. Eric Decker caught eight balls for 99 yards and two touchdowns. He now has a TD catch in five straight games, one shy of the franchise record. Trindon Holliday returned a kickoff 105 yards for a touchdown and claimed the longest touchdown in Broncos history.

Saints quarterback, Drew Brees, threw a touchdown pass in his 51st straight game on Monday night against the Eagles. Brees extended his own record with the throw. Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady, had a bye in Week 9. The pass went to Marques Colston and it was the 54th time those two have hooked up for a score, tied for the 11th most in NFL history.

Patrick Robinson picked off a Michael Vick pass in the red-zone and returned in 99 yards to give the Saints a 7-0 lead in the 1st quarter. The Eagles have scored a grand total of seven points in the 1st quarter this season after being shut out on Monday night. After a lackluster previous three games, however, LeSean McCoy broke out for 119 yards, but just 17 of those came in the 2nd half.

New Orleans has now won eight in a row on Monday night, the second longest streak all-time and the longest active. This ties the Eagles’ longest losing streak under head coach, Andy Reid, and the first time that all four NFC East teams lost in the same week since Week 13 in 2011. Vick was sacked seven times for 46 yards and took many more hits as he tried to scramble to make something happen. The Saints have won 12 straight games in the month of November.

Some information taken from ESPN Stats & Info.

 

 Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

Week 7 NFL Storylines 0

Posted on October 24, 2012 by Andy Larmand

 

Giants quarterback, Eli Manning, celebrated his latest 4th quarter comeback on Sunday, beating the Redskins 27-23.

As always, the latest week in the NFL left us eager for the next one to start.

Here are the biggest feats, news stories and injuries from the week that was around the NFL.

No surprise here, but Drew Brees threw a touchdown pass in a record 49th straight game, extending his own NFL record. The Saints came back from down 21-7 to beat the Buccaneers after a 4th down touchdown catch was refuted by a penalty to end the game. After an 0-4 start, the Saints have won their last two.

Brees ] threw for 313 yards in the 1st half – the most by a quarterback in the 1st half of a game since Michael Vick threw for 329 against the Redskins in 2010. It was also Brees’ 18th career 4-touchdown game, which is good for fourth all-time and 62nd career 300-yard passing game, which is good for a tie for third on the all-time list. He is now tied with Dan Marino for the most career games with 4+ touchdowns and 300 yards with 16.

Patriots quarterback, Tom Bradyremained ten games behind Brees as he threw a touchdown pass in his 39th consecutive game in his team’s 29-26 overtime win against the JetsNew England extended its all-time series lead to 54-52-1 against New York. Rob Gronkowski caught two touchdowns and now has 10 multi-touchdown games since 2010 – more than anyone else.

This was just the fifth time in their history that the Patriots scored 29 points in a game. The last time was on Oct. 14, 2001 against the Chargers and also a 29-26 OT win. New England, who has won 15 of the last 19 meetings with the Jets, scored points with their offense, defense and special teams in the 1st half.

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