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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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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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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.

NFL Classic Rewind: Raiders Deny Chiefs AFC West Title 10

Posted on October 20, 2011 by A.J. Foss

The final game of the 1999 regular season did not mean a whole lot to the Oakland Raiders, but meant everything for the Kansas City Chiefs.

The Chiefs entered the game with a 9-6 record and needed to defeat the Raiders plus have the Seattle Seahawks lose to win the AFC West title (The Seahawks owned the tiebreaker because they won both of their meetings with the Chiefs).

Even though a loss to the Raiders would keep them out of the playoffs, the Chiefs had to be very confident as they had lost to Oakland twice during the entire decade of the 1990s and had not lost to the Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium since 1988.

Kansas City was under first-year head coach Gunther Cunningham, who had replaced Marty Schottenheimmer after a decade in which he led the Chiefs to nine playoff appearances, and quarterback Elvis Grbac.

Grbac had spent the previous two seasons in Kansas City in a quarterback controversy with backup Rich Gannon, as Gannon had filled in nicely for the starter and won 10 of his 16 starts during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.

After the 1998 season, Gannon left the Chiefs and signed as a free agent with the arch rival Raiders, where he was named the starting quarterback for head coach Jon Gruden who was entering his second season as the Raiders’ head coach.

Oakland entered the game at 7-8 and were eliminated from playoff contention, but a victory of the hated Chiefs to prevent them from moving on to the postseason, would make the season for the Raiders. Read the rest of this entry →

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