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Elias Says: Jan. 23, 2017

A star is born as Brady sets a career playoff high

Tom Brady set a personal playoff record, passing for 384 yards in the Patriots’ 36-17 win over the Steelers. Brady has now passed for at least 300 yards in postseason games against eight different teams, two more than Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner, the runners-up in that category.

But the breakout star of New England’s win was wide receiver Chris Hogan, who caught nine passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Five of Hogan’s catches went for at least 20 yards. Over the last 10 seasons, the only other player with at least five plays from scrimmage of 20 yards or more in one postseason game was Greg Jennings of the Packers in the NFC Championship Game six years ago.

So close and yet…

The momentum shifted late in the first half when Pittsburgh managed only a field goal after a touchdown call was reversed, setting up a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line. Since the Steelers’ resurgence of the 1970s, they had 20 previous first-and-goals from the 1-yard line in postseason games, scoring 19 touchdowns and one field goal.

Ryan throws four touchdown passes in Falcons’ win and adds a surprise

Matt Ryan threw four touchdown passes in the Falcons’ 44-21 victory over the Packers. Ryan, who threw three TD passes in each of his three previous playoff games, fell one short of the NFL record for touchdown passes over a span of four postseason games (14). That mark is shared by Daryle Lamonica (1967, 1968 and 1969 postseasons) and Kurt Warner (2008 and 2009 postseasons).

Ryan also scored a touchdown in Sunday’s win, something he hasn’t done in his last 79 regular-season games, dating to September 2012. The only other quarterback with a current streak of starts without a TD as long as Ryan’s is Philip Rivers (91 games).

Another masterful playoff performance by Jones

Julio Jones caught nine passes for 180 yards in the Falcons’ win. That was 2 yards shy of Jones’ single-game playoff high of 182 receiving yards, set against San Francisco four years ago. Only two other players in NFL history had two postseason games with at least 180 receiving yards in each: Hall-of-Famers Jerry Rice and Fred Biletnikoff.

Lowly Mavs hand Lakers the worst defeat in team history

The Mavericks defeated the Lakers, 122-73, on Sunday. Dallas came in to the game with a 14-29 record, and its 49-point margin of victory was the largest by an NBA team that was at least 15 games below .500 in nearly a quarter-century. The last such win was Charlotte’s 136-84 rout of the 76ers in February 1992. The Hornets came into that game with a 19-36 record, and their leading scorer was Stephen Curry’s dad, Dell, who scored 22 points in 29 minutes, shooting 9-for-13 from the field (including 3-for-3 from beyond the arc).

The 49 points marked the largest margin of defeat ever suffered by the Lakers, including their 13 seasons in Minneapolis. The Lakers’ three biggest losses have all taken place in the last four seasons, the others being 48-point defeats to the Clippers in March 2014 and the Jazz last March.

A different kind of triple-double for Bledsoe

Eric Bledsoe scored 40 points, a career high, and was credited with 13 assists in the Suns’ 115-103 win at Toronto. Bledsoe shot 11-for-17 from the field and 14-for-14 from the line, in a performance typical of James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Harden has seven games with at least 10 field goals, 10 free throws and 10 assists this season; Westbrook has five. Bledsoe and Damian Lillard are the only other NBA players with even one such game this season.

Goran Dragic was the last Phoenix player with a 10-10-10 game (FGs, FTs and assists), doing it four years ago. That was the specialty of Kevin Johnson, who had 16 such games for the Suns (1989-97).

Towns continues his hot scoring with torrid shooting

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 32 points and had 12 rebounds in the Timberwolves’ 111-108 win over the Nuggets. It was the third time in his last seven games that Towns scored at least 30 points, and he shot 84-for-131 from the field during that time (64%). The last Timberwolves player to average at least 12 field goals over a span of seven games was Michael Beasley in November 2010.

Warriors defy jet lag with big third quarter

The Warriors scored 42 points in the third quarter, including a 19-2 run shortly after halftime, to fuel a 118-98 victory in a game that started at noon ET in Orlando. Golden State was the first team from the Pacific time zone to score 40 points in a quarter in an early-starting game in the Eastern time zone since 1999. For purposes of this note, we will consider an early start to be a game scheduled for 6 p.m. or earlier. The last West Coast team to score 40 points in a quarter in an early start on the East Coast was the Lakers at Orlando (March 21, 1999). There had been 204 qualifying games in the interim.

The King is back

Henrik Lundqvist posted his second shutout of the season and the 61st of his NHL career with a 1-0 overtime victory in Detroit on Sunday afternoon. This was Lundqvist’s fourth shutout in his 12 games against the Red Wings, which makes him the first goaltender to post that many shutouts in his first dozen games versus Detroit since Tony Esposito blanked the Red Wings for the fourth time in his 12th game against them (in March 1971).

In fact, all of Lundqvist’s shutouts versus Detroit have come in his last seven games against the Red Wings (dating to January 2014). The last goaltender before Lundqvist to produce four shutouts over any seven-game stretch against the Red Wings was Hall-of-Famer Tiny Thompson for the Bruins in 1932.

Back-to-back late game-winners for the Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews’ tiebreaking goal with 1:18 remaining in the third period was the game-winning goal in the Blackhawks’ 4–2 victory over the Canucks. On Friday, Chicago beat the Bruins at Boston, 1-0, on Marian Hossa’s goal with 1:26 left to play in regulation time. This is only the second time in Blackhawks history that they scored a go-ahead goal in the final two minutes of the third period in each of two consecutive games in one season. The previous instance was in 1938, in wins at Toronto (Nov. 5) and Montreal (Nov. 6). The late tiebreakers in those games were scored by Mush March and Joffre Desilets.

A winning month for Forsberg

Filip Forsberg scored the tying and game-winning goals for the Predators, who overcame an early 2-0 deficit to post a 4-2 victory over the Wild. Forsberg did not score a game-winning goal this season through the end of December, but he has been credited with the winning goal in five of Nashville’s six non-shootout wins this month. Forsberg’s five game-winning goals in January are a Predators record for a calendar month. Before 2017, the club record was four, a mark set by Martin Erat in November 2007 and tied by J.P. Dumont in February 2008.

Sheary is scoring in pairs

Conor Sheary scored two goals for the second consecutive game and for the third time in the Penguins’ last four games when Pittsburgh beat the Bruins, 5-1. Sheary, a Massachusetts native, is the first U.S.-born Penguins player to score at least two goals in each of two consecutive team games since the 1993-94 season, when Kevin Stevens and Joe Mullen both produced back-to-back multiple-goal games for Pittsburgh. Sheary is now the fourth current NHL player born in Massachusetts who has notched a multiple-goal game versus the Bruins at some point in his career. The others: Jimmy Hayes, Jack Eichel and Brian Boyle.

Columbus wins a high-scoring seesaw game

Cam Atkinson’s second goal of the day earned the Blue Jackets a 7-6 overtime victory against the Senators in a game in which each team took the lead three times. The only other NHL game over the last three seasons in which the teams combined to score at least six go-ahead goals was the Panthers’ 6-5 win at Calgary on Jan. 9, 2015, with each side taking the lead three times in that game.

Sunday’s game in Ottawa was the sixth NHL contest this season -- and the third over the last seven days -- in which at least a dozen goals were scored (shootout deciders excluded, of course). The last NHL season with this many 12-goal games was 2011-12, when there were seven (but only three through the end of January).

Giroux, the Flyers’ OT specialist, does it again

Claude Giroux scored the overtime goal that gave the Flyers a 3–2 victory against the Islanders at Brooklyn and ended Philadelphia’s nine-game road winless streak. It was Giroux’s second overtime goal this season and the ninth regular-season OT goal of his 10-season NHL career, with all of those goals coming in the last six seasons. He is tied with Alex Ovechkin for the most regular-season overtime goals since 2011-12.