With some help from ESPN Stats & Information and the media relations departments of the NFL, the Saints, Falcons and Buccaneers, it’s time for some superlatives on New Orleans, Atlanta and Tampa Bay. Carolina doesn’t qualify because superlatives have become a non-existent species for the Panthers this year.
The Saints reached the 10-win mark for the second straight year. The last time New Orleans had back-to-back seasons of double-digit wins was in 1991-92.
The Saints have scored 30 or more points in five consecutive games for the second time in franchise history. The only other instance was from Oct. 6 through Nov. 10, 2002, when New Orleans topped the 30-point mark against Pittsburgh (32), Washington (43), San Francisco (35), Atlanta (35) and Carolina (34). Yep, the good, old Aaron Brooks days.
New Orleans’ Drew Brees has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 24 consecutive regular-season games, dating back to Week 4 of last season.
New Orleans safety Roman Harper forced his team-leading fifth fumble of the season in the first quarter Sunday. Harper is tied for fourth in the NFL in forced fumbles. He has 11 forced fumbles in his five-year NFL career. Harper also had a quarterback sack.
Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman led the seventh fourth-quarter/overtime comeback victory of his career, five of which have come this season. He finished 15-of-25 for 266 yards, including a game-winning 41-yard touchdown strike to Kellen Winslow with 3:47 left in the fourth quarter. Freeman also added another 10 yards on the ground and a two-point conversion which gave the Buccaneers a seven-point lead. In the second half alone, Freeman was 11-for-16 for 214 yards and the score. With the 27th passing touchdown of his career, he passed Shaun King (26 from 1999-03) for the eighth-most passing touchdowns in team history.
Tampa Bay rookie Arrelious Benn caught four passes for 122 yards. It marked the first 100-yard receiving game of his career.
The Bucs are 7-2 in their last nine road games.
The Bucs averaged 7.0 yards per play against Washington. It was the first time all season the Bucs have averaged at least 7.0 yards per play.
For the second time in the past three seasons, the Falcons have posted 11 wins in a season. It is the first time in franchise history that the team has posted three straight winning seasons and 11 wins are tied for the third most in a single season in franchise history. The Falcons posted a franchise-best 14-2 record in 1998, went 12-4 in 1980 and posted 11-5 seasons in 2004 and 2008.
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan tied his career-high with his 22nd touchdown pass of the season. The third-year pro has thrown at least one touchdown pass in a career-best 12 consecutive games, and the Falcons own a 28-7 record when he finds a man in the end zone at least once. Since 2008, Ryan’s 60 touchdowns rank fifth in the NFC.
The Falcons are the first NFC team with a 3,000-yard passer (Ryan), a 1,000-yard rusher (Michael Turner) and a 1,000-yard receiver (WR Roddy White) this season. The Houston Texans (Matt Schaub, Arian Foster, Andre Johnson) are the only other team to accomplish that feat in 2010.
Atlanta kicker Matt Bryant has made 13 straight field goal attempts.