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Colts beat Chiefs in one for the ages... and the record books
From Elias: A 28-point lead wiped out, over 1000 yards in offense, and a one-point victory? Nominations are open for an NFL playoff game that has packed in as many elements - and that's apart from the critical turnovers, time management and injuries that peppered the action.
The Colts' 45-44 victory - after the Chiefs had led, 38-10, early in the third quarter - marked the second-largest deficit that any NFL team has ever overcome to win a postseason game. The record was set 21 years and one day earlier, when the Bills overcame a 35-3 deficit to defeat the Houston Oilers, 41-38, in overtime. The NFL's largest regular-season deficit overcome by the winning team, by the way, is 28 points, achieved by the 49ers in a 38-35 overtime win over the Saints on Dec. 7, 1980 (New Orleans had led, 35-7). So the victory by Indianapolis on Saturday marked the first time in NFL history that a team had won a game in regulation time, in either the regular season or the postseason, after having trailed by as many as 28 points.
Next point: specifically, the one-point victory. It was the highest-scoring postseason game in NFL history ever to be decided by the minimum margin. The previous record had been set in a first-round game on Jan. 5, 2003, when the 49ers nipped the Giants, 39-38.
Finally, the yards. The two-team combined total of 1049 yards established an NFL record for a postseason game, eclipsing the total of 1038 that was, rather remarkably as these things go, achieved in two different games: a Bills-Dolphins first-round game on Dec. 30, 1995, and a Saints-Lions first-round matchup on Jan. 7, 2012.
A one and a two
From Elias: If it didn't match the utter unlikeliness of the Colts' comeback win earlier in the day, the Saints' 26-24 victory in Philadelphia went down to the final play of the game. On that play, Shayne Graham's 32-yard field goal - his fourth three-pointer of the game - provided the points that New Orleans needed to win. The narrow victories by the Colts and the Saints made Saturday the first day in NFL postseason history on which two different games were decided by a margin of two-or-fewer points.
Brees takes an unusual path to victory
From Elias: Drew Brees completed 20 of 30 passes for 250 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the Saints' victory at Philadelphia - statistics that are downright modest for the star quarterback. He connected with nine different receivers during the game, but no teammate had as many as 50 receiving yards. In Brees's eight years with the Saints, only twice have they won a regular-season game in which no player had as many as 50 receiving yards (against the Giants in 2006 and against the Jets in 2009); but this is the second time Brees has won a game in that manner in the postseason, having done it in the 2009 NFC Championship Game against the Vikings.
Durant's 23 points in 4th quarter help Thunder erase double-digit deficit
From Elias: Kevin Durant scored 48 points, including 23 in the fourth quarter, as the Thunder finally managed to put away the Timberwolves, 115-111. Durant broke the tie with a field goal with four seconds left to play, then added two foul shots for the final points of the game. The total of 23 points in the fourth quarter set an NBA career high for Durant, in any quarter; his previous high was 22 points in the fourth quarter of a game against the Heat last February 14.
Who was the last NBA player to score that many fourth-quarter points to lead his team to a road victory, after it had entered the final quarter trailing by a double-digit margin? All together now... LeBron! Playing for Cleveland at Toronto on Jan. 6, 2008, James scored 24 points in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers (who had trailed, 70-57 entering that period) fashioned a 93-90 comeback victory.
Bosh hits all nine shots to tie Heat record
From Elias: Chris Bosh hit all nine of his field-goal attempts in the Heat's 110-94 victory at Orlando, tying a franchise single-game record for most shots without a miss. Clarence Weatherspoon shot 9-for-9 at New York on May 5, 1999, and Shaquille O'Neal did so against the Celtics on Nov. 28, 2004.
The irony of Bosh's performance is that in his last game, against the Warriors on Thursday, he missed each of his last six shots from the floor.
Something new for Pop: up 35 at the half!
From Elias: Gregg Popovich, who has been in his current job longer than has any other head coach or manager in the NBA, the NFL, the NHL or Major League Baseball, has seen a lot during his 18 seasons as the Spurs head coach. But he had never walked into a locker room leading by 35 points at halftime - which is what happened Saturday night, as the Chris Paul-less Clippers trailed the Spurs, 70-35, at the half. Among the other NBA coaches who never went into a halftime locker room with a lead of 35-plus points are the one who head-coached the most games in NBA history (Lenny Wilkens), the one who coached the most teams (Larry Brown) and the one who smoked the most victory cigars (Red Auerbach).
Don't look now: 76ers have won last 4, all on the road - in the West!
From Elias: Thaddeus Young scored 30 points as the 76ers prevailed in a back-and-forth game in Portland, leaving the arena with a 101-99 decision. Philadelphia has won its last four games, all on the road against Western Conference teams, marking the first time they have done that since a four-game streak of that nature, also overlapping the start of a new year, in from Dec. 26, 1985 to Jan. 1, 1986. The fourth game of that streak was also a two-point win in Portland, 121-119.
A hat trick for Suter, first for a Wild backliner
From Elias: Ryan Suter recorded the first hat trick of his NHL career and the first ever by a Wild defenseman when he scored three goals against the Capitals on Saturday night. Suter, whose only previous multi-goal game in the NHL was a two-goal performance for Nashville in October 2009, is the first NHL defenseman to produce a hat trick since the 2010-11 season, when five different backliners managed that feat: Ed Jovanovski, Nicklas Lidstrom, Zdeno Chara, Lubomir Visnovsky and P.K. Subban, who was the last one before Suter (March 20, 2011 at Minnesota).
18-year-old MacKinnon scores twice
From Elias: Nathan MacKinnon, the first overall pick in the 2013 draft, scored two goals in a game for the first time in his NHL career when the Avalanche beat the Sharks, 4-3. Over the last 25 seasons, only four NHL players have recorded multiple-goal games when they were younger than MacKinnon was on Saturday (age 18 years, 125 days): Patrick Marleau (in November 1997), Sidney Crosby (twice in November 2005), Jordan Staal (in October 2006) and Evander Kane (in November 2009). MacKinnon is also the youngest player to score two or more goals in one game for the Nordiques/Avalanche, breaking the mark set by Ryan O'Reilly, who scored twice against Chicago on Nov. 6, 2009 (18 years, 272 days).
Hurricanes' Khudobin keeps his record clean
From Elias: Anton Khudobin made 38 saves in the Hurricanes' 3-2 win over the Islanders. Khudobin, who signed with the Hurricanes as a free agent last summer, has a 4-0-0 record in the five games he has played for Carolina. He's the second goaltender in Whalers/Hurricanes franchise history to win his first four decisions for the team. The first was Jeff Reese, who won the first four games he played for Hartford (in 1993) but finished his Hartford tenure with a 9-17-4 record.
Rangers' big win in Toronto
From Elias: The Rangers' 7-1 win at Toronto's Air Canada Centre matched their largest margin of victory in a road game over the last 14 seasons, set in a 6-0 win at Washington on Feb. 25, 2011. It was the Rangers largest winning margin on the road against one of their "Original Six" brethren since March 14, 1990, when won, 8-2, at Maple Leaf Gardens. Fifteen different players registered at least one point for the Rangers in Saturday's game. Since 1989, the only other game in which as many Rangers players were credited with at least one point was their 8-2 win against Tampa Bay at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 19, 2010, in which 16 Rangers players tallied goals or assists.
Here's what D'Agostini was waiting for
From Elias: It took Matt D'Agostini 16 games to score his first goal for the Sabres but the wait was worth it as it turned out to be a third-period game-winner in Buffalo's 2-1 victory over the Devils. D'Agostini, claimed on waivers by the Sabres from St. Louis on November 27, is the first Buffalo player since Cody Hodgson whose first goal for the club was a game-winning goal. Hodgson did that in his 12th game with the Sabres (March 21, 2012 vs. Montreal), after being acquired from Vancouver in a midseason trade, scoring both goals in a 2-1 win.
MacArthur: another notch on his OT-goal belt
From Elias: Clarke MacArthur's goal 58 seconds into overtime gave the Senators a 4-3 victory at Montreal. MacArthur has scored three overtime goals in his NHL career and he's scored them for three different teams: Buffalo, Toronto and Ottawa. Only three other active players scored their first three regular-season overtime goals for three different NHL teams: Mike Cammalleri, Olli Jokinen and Dennis Wideman.
Barkov's point-scoring streak reaches 5 games
From Elias: Panthers rookie Aleksander Barkov extended his point streak to five games as he provided a pair of assists in what would end up as a shootout victory against Nashville. Barkov's point streak is the longest by a Panthers rookie since Kristian Huselius tied the franchise record for freshmen with points in six consecutive team games in October/November 2001. Jesse Belanger set that rookie mark with a six-game streak in 1993-94, the team's inaugural season.
Another lopsided win for the Blues
From Elias: The Blues roared back to earn a 6-2 victory against Columbus on Saturday after they had trailed, 2-0, at the end of the first period. It was the Blues' league-high 10th win by a margin of four or more goals this season. The only other NHL team with more than five such wins this season is Chicago with eight. St. Louis recorded only one win by four or more goals in its 48 games last season.
Howard has a busy, but rewarding, night
From Elias: Jimmy Howard stopped 44 of the Stars' 45 shots on goal as he backstopped the Red Wings to a 5-1 win at Dallas. It was the second time in Howard's NHL career that he won a game, regular season or playoffs, in which he faced at least that many shots and allowed no more than one goal. The first was his 2-1 victory at Los Angeles on Jan. 7, 2010, in which the Kings put 52 shots on target against Howard.