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Elias Says: October 16, 2017

Turner ties game, then hits walkoff homer

Justin Turner, who tied the game at 1–1 with a two-out single in the fifth inning, hit a three-run game-ending home run in the ninth, giving the Dodgers a 4–1 victory over the Cubs. Only four other players in postseason history drove in a run to create the tie that was later broken by their own walkoff hit: Magglio Ordonez of the Tigers (2006 ALCS vs. Oakland), Nelson Cruz of the Rangers (2011 ALCS vs. Detroit), Raul Ibanez of the Yankees (2012 divisional series vs. Baltimore), and Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals (2013 NLCS vs. Dodgers).

For his career, Turner has 13 hits in 18 postseason at-bats with runners in scoring position. His .722 batting average is the all-time high among players with at least 10 postseason AB with RISP.

Cubs can’t touch Dodgers’ relievers

The Dodgers’ bullpen was flawless in their Game 2 win, with four relievers—Brandon Morrow, Josh Fields, Tony Watson, and the winner, Kenley Jansen—pitching a total of four innings without allowing a hit or a walk. The Cubs were 0-for-24 against the Dodgers’ bullpen in the first two games of the series, and that is the longest hitless streak versus relief pitchers to start any postseason series in MLB history.

Peterson makes a statement in Cardinals debut

Adrian Peterson silenced the skeptics with 134 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries in the Cardinals’ 38–33 win over the Buccaneers. Peterson, who turned 32 last March, became the second-oldest player in NFL history to gain at least 100 rushing yards in his debut for a team. The oldest was Joe Perry, who, at age 34, gained 106 yards on 18 carries in his first game for the Baltimore Colts in 1961. Two other players in their 30s gained at least 100 rushing yards in a team debut: Herschel Walker for the Eagles (at age 30 in 1992) and DeAngelo Williams for the Steelers (age 32 in 2015).

Bell & Brown help Steelers hand Chiefs their first loss

Le’Veon Bell gained 179 yards on 32 carries and Antonio Brown caught eight passes for 155 yards as the Steelers became the first team to defeat the Chiefs this season, posting a 19–13 win at Kansas City. It was only the third time in team history that Steelers teammates amassed 150 yards by rushing and receiving, respectively, in the same game. It was previously done by Tom Tracy and Jimmy Orr against the Bears in 1958, and by DeAngelo Williams and Brown against the Raiders in 2015. Other yardsticks by which to measure what Bell and Brown accomplished:

Since 2000, the only other teammates with 150 rushing and receiving yards in a road game were Jamaal Charles and Dwayne Bowe of the Chiefs at Seattle in 2010.

The only other teammates to do so against a team that had a “perfect record” at kickoff were Gerald Riggs and Gary Clark of the Redskins against the Eagles in 1989. We used those quotation marks to highlight the fact that Philadelphia had a 1–0 record at the time.

Hundley falters after Rodgers goes down

With Aaron Rodgers sidelined early after suffering a broken collarbone, the Vikings intercepted Brett Hundley three times in a 23–10 victory over the Packers. Ironically, Rodgers streak of 117 consecutive starts without throwing as many as three INTs is the longest in NFL history. No other quarterback has ever compiled a streak of 100 such games; Tom Brady’s current streak of 95 starts without throwing three picks is the second longest in league history.

Trubisky & Cohen are Bears’ odd couple of TD passes

The Bears defeated the Ravens, 27–24 in overtime, in a game that was noteworthy for not one, but two Chicago rookies throwing touchdown passes. Mitchell Trubisky connected with Dion Sims for a 27-yard score and running back Tarik Cohen threw a 21-yard TD pass to Zach Miller. Over the last 25 seasons (1993–2017), there was only one other game in which rookie teammates each threw a TD pass of 20 yards or longer: David Carr and wide receiver Jabar Gaffney did it for Houston in 2002. Related notes:

It was the first game in which two rookies threw a touchdown pass for the winning team since Roger Staubach and Calvin Hill did it for Dallas against the St. Louis Cardinals in 1969.

Cohen was the third rookie RB to throw a TD pass of 20 yards or longer in the last 30 years. The others were Eric Metcalf with Cleveland in 1989 (32 yards to Reggie Langhorne) and Brian Westbrook with Philadelphia in 2002 (25 yards to Tood Pinkston).

High-scoring Texans find their man in Watson

Deshaun Watson threw three touchdown passes to lead the Texans to a 33–17 victory over the Browns. Houston has scored 157 points in its last four games, by far the highest total over a four-game span in team history. In fact, only one team in the expansion era scored that many points over four games with a rookie starting at quarterback in each game: Seattle with Russell Wilson at QB in 2012 (173 points over four games).

Joseph’s pick-6 spoils Hogan’s first NFL start

Johnathan Joseph returned one of Kevin Hogan’s three interceptions 82 yards for a touchdown in Houston’s win. Hogan is hardly the first quarterback to throw a pick-six in his first start in the NFL. Among those who did are Peyton Manning, Alex Smith, and Jameis Winston. But during the expansion era only three other QBs had an INT returned for a TD of 82 yards or longer in their first start: Peter Tom Willis of the Bears (1992), Kevin Kolb of the Eagles (2009), and Jeff Tuel of the Bills (2013).

Rams & Jaguars, surprising division leaders, put on a show

The Rams and Jaguars met on Sunday in an unlikely but entertaining meeting of first-place teams. Prior to this month, the Jags and Rams hadn’t been in first place at the same time beyond the end of September since 2010. But what an opening act:

Pharoh Cooper became the first player in Rams history to return a game’s opening kickoff for a touchdown of 100 yards or longer.

On Jacksonville’s first play from scrimmage, Leonard Fournette ran 75 yards for a touchdown. Last week, Fournette scored a 90-yard TD on his final carry of the game. The only other player in the NFL history with 75-yard touchdown runs in consecutive games was Michael Bennett of the Vikings in 2002.

Brady and Gronkowski produce a pair of TDs

Tom Brady threw a pair of touchdown passes to Rob Gronkowski in the Patriots’ 24–17 win over the Jets. It was the 15th regular-season game in which Brady and Gronkowski connected on at least two TD passes. New England has won 14 of those games, as well as both playoff games in which Gronkowski caught two touchdowns from Brady.

Since Gronkowski entered the NFL in 2010, no other pair of teammates has produced as many as 15 games with two TD connections. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson had 14 such games during that time, as have Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson.

Another quarterback finds Patriots’ D to his liking

On the negative side of New England’s win was Josh McCown’s 354 passing yards for the Jets. It was the sixth consecutive game in which an opposing player passed for at least 300 yards against the Patriots, and that’s a new NFL record. The previous mark of five was set by Atlanta, spanning the 1994 and 1995 seasons.

Jets started impressively in loss to Pats

The Jets got off to bright start against the Patriots, scoring a touchdown on the game’s opening drive, which covered 88 yards on 13 plays. It was the first time in 31 years that the Jets drove that far for a touchdown immediately after receiving the opening kickoff. Their last such TD was also scored against New England in 1986, with Pat Ryan starting in place of Ken O’Brien. The Jets won that game, 31–24. Johnny Hector scored three touchdowns on 40 carries, a team record that still stands.

Gordon carries load in Chargers’ win

Melvin Gordon was the star of the Chargers’ 17–16 win over the Raiders, gaining 83 yards on 25 carries and catching nine passes for 67 yards. That was the highest total of pass receptions by a player who also carried the ball at least 25 times since 2014, when DeMarco Murray carried 32 times and caught nine passes for the Cowboys.

Brees tops Stafford in battle of slingers

Matthew Stafford threw 52 passes, but Drew Brees’ Saints scored 52 points in a victory over the Lions as the NFL’s two most prolific throwers went head to head. Stafford’s average of 39.2 passes per start is the highest in NFL history (minimum: 10 starts), and Brees ranks second (37.6).

But the stars of Sunday’s game were the three defensive players who scored touchdowns for the Saints: Kenny Vaccaro, who recovered a Lions fumble in the end zone, and Marshon Lattimore and Cameron Jordan, who scored on interceptions. New Orleans was the first team to score three defensive TDs since Baltimore did it against the Jets in 2011. It was the third time Stafford threw two pick-6’s in the same game.

Giants surprise Broncos with first win of season

After five losses, the Giants earned their first win of the season with a 23–10 victory at Denver, a traditionally inhospitable venue for even the best of clubs. The last visiting team whose first victory of a season came at Denver was Oakland, in its 2011 season opener. The last to do so after losing at least one game was New England in 2000. The Patriots had lost their first four games, and their 28–19 win at Mile High Stadium was Bill Belichick’s first as the team’s head coach.

Protege tops mentor as Cousins and Shanahan vie

The dominant storyline for yesterday’s Redskins-49ers game was Kirk Cousins facing Kyle Shanahan, Washington’s former offensive coordinator who is now San Francisco’s head coach. Cousins threw two touchdown passes and scored a late touchdown on a 7-yard run, as the Redskins topped the Niners, 26–24. That result followed a recent pattern: Over the last three seasons, quarterbacks starting against a team whose head coach had been one of their former head coaches, offensive coordinators, or QB coaches have a 25–11–1 record.

Also of note: Cousins leads the Redskins with 10 rushing touchdowns over the last three seasons.

A rare halftime turnaround

The Dolphins outscored the Falcons, 20–0, in the second half for a 20–17 victory at Atlanta. It was the first game either this season or last in which the winning team failed to score in the first half and trailed by more than 10 points at the intermission. The last time Miami won that way was its Wild Card victory over Peyton Manning and the Colts following the 2000 season.

Hall makes a strong first impression

With Mohamed Sanu sidelined by a hamstring injury, Marvin Hall made a splashy NFL debut, catching a 40-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter of the Falcons’ loss. Over the last 30 seasons, only two other undrafted players caught a TD pass for 40 yards or longer in their first game in the league: Oronde Gadsden of the Dolphins in 1998 and Doug Baldwin of the Seahawks in 2011.

Shipachyou stars in NHL debut

Vadim Shipachyov, a 30-year-old Russian-born forward making his NHL debut, scored the game-winning goal for the Vegas Golden Knights in their 3–1 victory against the Bruins. Since 1967–68, when the league expanded to 12 teams, the only other player to make his NHL debut with a first-year expansion club and score the game-winning goal in his first game was Hall of Famer Gilbert Perreault. He did that in the first game in Buffalo Sabres history, a 2–1 victory over the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Oct. 10, 1970. Perreault, who was 19 years old at the time, was selected by the Sabres with the first overall pick in the 1970 Amateur Draft.