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Elias Says: Jan. 16, 2017

Crosby & Bailey make placekicking history in Arlington

• In the final two minutes of the Packers’ 34–31 win at Dallas, Mason Crosby kicked go-ahead field goals of 56 and 51 yards, and in between Dan Bailey connected for a score-tying kick of 52 yards. It was the first time in postseason history that there were more than two 50-yard field goals at any point of a game. And even in the regular season, there had never been more than two 50-yard field goals in the fourth quarter of any game, not to mention in the final two minutes.

But in the excitement of the game’s closing minutes, it’s easy to forget that Bailey opened the scoring with a 50-yard field goal in the first quarter. In the NFL’s 97 seasons, there had been only two regular-season contests featuring four field goals of 50+ yards. Those were between the Seahawks and Cardinals in 2004, and the Raiders and Texans in 2011.

Rodgers again passes Packers to victory

• One week after passing for 362 yards in a win over the Giants, Aaron Rodgers generated 356 yards passing in the Packers’ 34–31 win over the Cowboys in Arlington. Rodgers is the first player ever to pass for at least 350 yards in two consecutive postseason games, winning both.

Don’t blame the rookies for Cowboys’ loss

Dak Prescott passed for 302 yards with a rating of 103.2, and his rookie teammate Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 125 yards in the Cowboys’ loss. Dallas was the 11th team in postseason history to have a passer with 300+ yards and a triple-digit rating, and a rusher with at least 100 yards. The only previous team to lose under these circumstances was the Giants, in a controversial Wild Card Game at San Francisco in January 2003 (Kerry Collins 342 yds,112.7 passer rating: Tiki Barber 115 rushing yards.)

Steelers beat Chiefs despite scoring two fewer touchdowns

• Chris Boswell’s record-setting six field goals provided all the scoring for the Steelers in their 18–16 win at Kansas City. The Chiefs, who scored two touchdowns, became the first team ever to lose an NFL postseason game in which it scored at least two more touchdowns than its opponent. Teams “plus-two” or better in touchdowns had been 245–0 all-time.

Bell has another big game in his second playoff appearance

• Le’Veon Bell gained 170 yards on 30 carries as the Steelers advanced with a win at Kansas City. Bell, who ran for 167 yards in his playoff debut last week against the Dolphins, shattered the record for most rushing yards by a player in his first two career postseason games (337.) The previous record was 285 by Arian Foster, for the Texans in January 2012.

You’ve probably heard this before, but Westbrook again makes triple-double history

Russell Westbrook scored 36 points and added 11 rebounds and 10 assists to register his 20th triple-double in his 42nd game of the season, a 122–118 Thunder win at Sacramento. The only player who ever needed as few games to reach 20 triple-doubles in a season was Oscar Robertson, who reached that milestone in his 32nd game in 1961–62.

Rockets starting five produces points, rebounds in win

• All five Rockets starters – Trevor Ariza, Ryan Anderson, Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Beverley, and James Harden – scored double-digit points and grabbed at least seven rebounds in Houston’s 137–112 win at Brooklyn. The last NBA starting lineup to do that belonged to the Charlotte Bobcats in a loss at Milwaukee on April 6, 2012. The last Rockets starting quintet to each register at least 10 points and seven rebounds consisted of Don Adams, John Trapp, Elvin Hayes, Calvin Murphy, and Stu Lantz, in a win over the Lakers on Dec. 5, 1970. How long ago was that? The team still played its home games in San Diego, and wouldn’t move to Texas until the following season.

Valanciunas continues scoring, rebounding hot streak

Jonas Valanciunas scored 12 points and grabbed 16 rebounds in the Raptors’ 116–101 win over the visiting Knicks. Valanciunas has 44 points and 49 rebounds over his last three games. Only two other Toronto players have matched those totals in points and rebounds over a three-game, single-season span: Jerome Williams in January 2003 and Donyell Marshall in both December 2003 and February 2004.

Large quarter-to-quarter improvement not enough for Knicks

• The Knicks scored eight points in the third quarter and 39 in the fourth period of their 116–101 loss at Toronto. The last time New York increased its scoring output by more than 30 points from one quarter of a game to the next was on Nov. 21, 1956, against the Fort Wayne Pistons in a neutral-site contest in Boston. The Knicks scored five points in the first period and then 36 in the second, eventually losing 104–103 in overtime.

Dunleavy makes a good second impression in Atlanta

Mike Dunleavy, appearing in his second game since arriving in a trade with the Cavaliers, scored 20 points in the Hawks’ 111–98 home win over the Bucks. The last player to score at least 20 points in his first or second game for Atlanta after having played for a different team earlier that season was Rasheed Wallace on Feb. 18, 2004. Wallace scored 20 against the Nets that night, in his first and only game for the Hawks after being traded by the Trail Blazers. The next day Wallace was traded again, to Detroit, where he’d win an NBA Championship four months later.

A big game off the bench for McDermott

Doug McDermott came off the bench to score 31 points and grab six rebounds in the Bulls’ 108–104 win at Memphis. No Chicago substitute had posted at least 30 points and five rebounds in a win since Ben Gordon (31 pts, 5 reb) on Dec. 28, 2007 against the Bucks.

Barea thrives in limited playing time

• J.J. Barea made all five of his field-goal attempts and added three rebounds and three assists in 16 minutes, 32 seconds of the Mavericks’ 98–87 home win over the Timberwolves. Only one other Dallas player has ever been 5-for-5 or better from the floor with at least three rebounds and three assists while spending less than 20 minutes on the floor. Elton Brand was 5-for-5 with five rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes against Utah on March 24, 2013.

Another big shutout win by Caps

Philipp Grubauer posted his second shutout of the season with a 5–0 victory over the Flyers on Sunday that extended the Capitals’ winning streak to nine games. The eighth win in Washington’s current streak was a 6–0 shutout on Friday by Braden Holtby against the Blackhawks. This is the first time in the Capitals’ 42 seasons in the NHL that they’ve recorded consecutive shutouts with each win by at least a five-goal margin. Over the last 20 years only three other NHL teams have produced back-to-back shutouts by five-goal or bigger margins: the Coyotes in March 2000, the Predators in February 2003 and the Kings earlier this season (5–0 vs. Calgary on Nov. 5 and 7–0 at Toronto on Nov. 8.)

Niskanen never scores just one goal

Justin Williams and defenseman Matt Niskanen each scored two goals in the Capitals’ 5–0 win over the Flyers. Niskanen entered play on Sunday having scored only two goals in 41 games this season and he scored both of those goals in Washington’s victory against the Islanders in Brooklyn on December 13. Niskanen is the first NHL defenseman whose first two games with at least one goal in a season were both multiple-goal games since Tampa Bay’s Shane O’Brien in 2007–08. O’Brien scored only four goals in 77 games for the Lightning that season and all of those goals came in a pair of two-goal games five days apart (Nov. 3 and Nov. 8.)

Kane registers 30th multiple-goal game

Patrick Kane scored both goals for the Blackhawks in their 3–2 loss to the Wild. It was Kane’s first multiple-goal game this season and the 30th multi-goal game of his NHL career. Jonathan Toews, who has been Kane’s teammate in Chicago since they entered the NHL together in October 2007, has scored two or more goals in a game 34 times. There are two other pairs of current NHL teammates who have each notched at least 30 multiple-goal games for their club: Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (74) and Evgeni Malkin (44), and San Jose’s Patrick Marleau (63) and Joe Pavelski (42.)

Another regular-season win for Dubnyk vs. Chicago

Devan Dubnyk, two years to the day after he made his debut for Minnesota with a shutout win at Buffalo, stopped 33 shots as he backstopped the Wild to a come-from-behind 3–2 victory in Chicago. Dubnyk has an 82–42–11 record in regular-season play for the Wild, which ranks him second in wins among NHL goaltenders since he joined Minnesota, behind Washington’s Braden Holtby (88–29–14.) Dubnyk has won all eight regular-season games he’s played against the Blackhawks for the Wild (allowing only 12 goals in the process), though he was in goal for all four losses when Chicago swept Minnesota in the second round of the 2015 playoffs.

Taylor excels against former rivals

• Taylor Hall’s overtime goal earned the Devils a 2–1 win against the Canucks in Vancouver. Hall had played six seasons in the NHL, all with Edmonton in the Western Conference, before he was traded to New Jersey last summer, and his comfort level playing against familiar opponents has been in evidence with the Devils this season. Hall has scored nine goals in 14 games versus Western Conference opponents this season but only two goals in 21 games against Eastern foes.