CINCINNATI -- With the offseason now here for the Cincinnati Bengals, we're taking a daily look at a few statistics that either defined the past season, or went overlooked during it.
On Thursday, we highlight the following number:
Twice in the final six weeks of the regular season, Tyler Eifert suffered head and neck injuries. Not only did they keep him from finishing two games, he didn't start another three games because of them, too.
The only game during the Bengals' playoff push that Eifert was able to start and finish was the regular season finale against the Ravens. During that game, he caught four passes for 51 yards and a touchdown that backup quarterback AJ McCarron put in the perfect spot where only he could catch it.
Despite practically losing four-plus games (Eifert's second injury, a concussion after a helmet-to-helmet hit from Steelers safety Mike Mitchell, came at the end of the Bengals' first drive in that game, meaning he was ineffective for more than three quarters), Eifert still finished the regular season leading all tight ends in touchdowns with 13. The touchdown he had against the Ravens was his only touchdown in the final six weeks.
Had he not missed so much time, it's likely Eifert would have had a legitimate shot at setting a new NFL record for single-season touchdown receptions, but at setting a new franchise mark, too.
Rob Gronkowski's 17 receiving touchdowns in 2011 stands as the league's tight end record. Carl Pickens' 17 in 1995 is the Bengals' all-time record for all pass-catchers.
Even if he didn't surpass 17 touchdown receptions, Eifert did at least hold off Gronkowski for the 2015 lead among tight ends -- Gronkowski finished with 11. Yes, Gronkowski had late-season injuries, too. He only missed one game, though.
And yes, although Eifert topped Gronkowski in the regular season, he fell short in the postseason. With the Patriots still in the playoffs after having a first-round bye and then beating the Chiefs in last week's divisional round, Gronkowski has a chance to build on the two playoff touchdowns he's already scored. Eifert didn't score in the Bengals' wild-card round loss to the Steelers.