We resume our Cincinnati Bengals factoids this Monday morning with a statistic that's more jaw-dropping than anything else.
The Bengals factoid of the day: 24.
Actually, we could have chosen to use either 6 or 24 as the numerical factoid to begin the week. What do those numbers represent? They're somewhat a remarkable feat for Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
Twenty-four is the number of consecutive games Burfict has played with six or more tackles on his end-of-game stat line, according to ESPN Stats & Information. That's right. Burfict had six or more tackles in each of his last 24 games; a streak that started in Week 12 of the 2012 season and stretches all the way through January's wild-card round playoff loss. No other player in the NFL had a streak as long as even 16 last year, although Jacksonville's Paul Posluszny wasn't far behind. He had at least six tackles in all 15 games he played in last season. If you go back to 2012, Posluszny, like Burfict, is in the middle of a 24-game streak with six or more tackles.
Linebacker Larry Foote, who was acquired by Arizona this offseason after spending all but one game in 2013 on Pittsburgh's injured reserve, has an open 17-game streak with at least six tackles in a game. His streak also began in 2012. Foote has recorded the six or more stops in all 16 games he played in that season, and continued collecting them Week 1 last season. He had eight in the Steelers' 2013 opener. But that was the only game he played. A biceps injury that afternoon sidelined him the rest of the year.
Burfict's tackle streak really isn't all that surprising when you consider he led the team in tackles two years ago and paced the entire league in stops this past season. His 171 regular-season tackles went down as a franchise record. If you include the seven stops he had in the lone playoff game, he ended up with 178 tackles during the entire year.
Ten times last season Burfict hit double digits in tackles. His season-high 15 came against Cleveland in Week 11. Only twice in his career has he had fewer than six stops in a game. He had three in his first career contest, and four nine weeks later.
More than anything else, Burfict's streak is validation for the Bengals' decision to sign him as an undrafted free agent before the 2012 season. He was passed over in the draft due to a poor combine showing and the general perception that he had character issues. The Bengals saw instead a player with a relentless motor, and someone who played better at game speed and on game tape than the one who tested in Indianapolis that year.
Their decision to take the gamble on signing him has so far paid off. It has paid off so well that in the coming weeks and months, Burfict could soon be looking at a new contract deal that would make him one of the best-paid linebackers in the league. He's in the middle of negotiations on a contract extension that if completed as expected this summer, would begin this fall.