Elliott’s three TDs highlight Cowboys’ wild win
Ezekiel Elliott scored three touchdowns in the Cowboys’ wild 35–30 win against the Steelers––one on an 83-yard pass play from Dak Prescott, one on a go-ahead touchdown run with 1:55 remaining in the fourth quarter, and one on a game-winning TD run with nine seconds left in the fourth quarter.
That 83-yard hookup for a score was the longest from a rookie passer to a rookie teammate since 1986, when the Colts’ Jack Trudeau threw an 84-yard TD pass to Bill Brooks at Candlestick Park.
Elliott is the first NFL player since the Bills’ Ahmad Rashad in 1974 to score two go-ahead touchdowns in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter of the same game. Rashad caught two go-ahead TD passes from Joe Ferguson in the final 2:00 of the fourth quarter in a 21–20 win against the Raiders in Buffalo.
Murray runs 75 yards for TD on Titans’ first play, then matches Thorpe
DeMarco Murray’s 75-yard touchdown run against the Packers was the longest score on an NFL team’s first play from scrimmage since October 2013, when Terrelle Pryor ran 93 yards for a TD on the Raiders’ first play against the Steelers.
Murray also threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Delanie Walker later in the first period. The only other player in NFL history who had a touchdown run for at least 75 yards and a touchdown pass (of any length) in the first quarter of the same game was Jim Thorpe in 1921 for the Cleveland Indians against the Columbus Panhandles.
Green Bay entered the weekend allowing the fewest rushing yards per game in the league this season (75.8). Murray is the first NFL player to run 75-or-more yards for a score against a team that began the week giving up the fewest rushing yards per game since Chris Johnson, coincidentally also for the Titans, had an 80-yard TD run versus the Bears in 2012.
Saints lose on blocked extra-point
The Saints tied the Broncos, 23–23, with 1:22 remaining in the fourth quarter, but their extra-point attempt was blocked and returned for two points resulting in a 25–23 victory for Denver. It was the NFL’s latest missed extra point––that would have given a team the lead––since September 2003, when Tampa Bay’s Martin Gramatica had his try blocked by the Panthers with no time left in the fourth quarter of a 9–9 game. Carolina won that game in overtime, 12–9.
Three takeaways by Stewart
Darian Stewart had two interceptions and a fumble recovery in the Broncos’ win against the Saints, becoming the first NFL player this season––and the first Broncos player since Deltha O’Neal in 2001––to have three takeaways in one game.
Stewart’s INTs came on consecutive passes by Drew Brees, who had been picked off on each of two straight throws only once before in his NFL career (in 2012 against San Francisco).
Mr. Smith saves Washington
Preston Smith was the defensive star for the Redskins with a fourth-quarter interception and then a game-clinching sack, each with Washington protecting a lead of fewer than seven points. The NFL has been recording sacks for individual defenders since 1982, and over that period Smith is the only Redskins player to register both an interception and a sack in the fourth quarter of a Washington victory.
Diggs is first NFL player with consecutive 13-catch games
Stefon Diggs is the first player in NFL history to make at least 13 receptions in each of back-to-back games. Diggs did that with 13-catch games last week against the Lions and on Sunday versus the Redskins.
Bortles picked for a TD again by Jackson
Kareem Jackson returned an interception 42 yards for a score in the Texans’ win over the Jaguars. It was the first pick-six thrown by Blake Bortles since Jackson had one against him in Week 17 last season. Only three other active quarterbacks have had an INT taken back for six points twice by the same active player: Andrew Luck (Aqib Talib), Blaine Gabbert (Darius Butler) and Chad Henne (Zach Brown).
Johnson extends streak
David Johnson had 55 rushing yards and 46 yards on receptions in Sunday’s win against the 49ers, barely extending his streak of at least 100 yards from scrimmage in all nine Cardinals games this season. Johnson is the first player since the Colts’ Edgerrin James in 2005 to reach triple digits in that category in each of his team’s first nine game of a season.
Bears score TD on “Hail Mary”
Jay Cutler’s “Hail Mary” pass at the end of the second quarter was caught in the end zone on a deflection by Cameron Meredith for a 50-yard completion. It was the second-longest touchdown from scrimmage on the final play of the first half in the past 15 years, and Bears fans may not want to be reminded of the longer score. Tom Brady connected with Deion Branch for 59 yards and a touchdown on the final play of the first half of a Patriots-Bears game played in a snowstorm back in 2010.
Chiefs win with fourth-quarter rally
The Chiefs rallied from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to defeat the Chargers in overtime on Opening Day, and Kansas City overcame a 14-point deficit in the final period to beat the Panthers on Sunday. The Chiefs are the first team since the 2003 Colts to win two games in one season in which they were behind by 14 or more points in the fourth quarter. Before this year, Andy Reid had only one regular-season win of that kind as an NFL head coach––by the Eagles against the Giants in 2010, a victory that was punctuated by a walkoff punt-return TD by DeSean Jackson. (Reid also won a game like that when he was head coach of the NFC in the Pro Bowl played in February 2004.)
Rams win with defense again
There were no NFL games from 2013 to 2015 in which the winning team scored fewer than 10 points, but there have been two this season: the Rams’ 9–3 triumph over the Seahawks in Week Two and the Rams’ 9–6 decision over the Jets on Sunday. Los Angeles is the first team since the 1997 Bills to win two games in one season in which it scored fewer than 10 points. Buffalo did that in Marv Levy’s final season as its head coach, with victories against the Colts and Dolphins, each by a 9–6 score.
Dolphins win on late INT return by Alonso
Kiko Alonso returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown with 1:01 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Dolphins a 31–24 victory over the Chargers. It was by far the latest in a game that Miami had an interception returned for a game-winning touchdown. The previous latest was by Kenny Mixon with 9:51 to go in the fourth quarter in a game against Denver in 2001.
Eagles dominate the ground game
The Eagles ran for 208 yards and permitted only 48 yards on the ground in Sunday’s victory over the Falcons. It was the first time since a win against the Redskins at Veterans Stadium in October 1997 that Philadelphia ran for more than 200 yards and gave up fewer than 50 rushing yards in the same game.
Good defense beats good offense
There were two NFL games on Sunday matching a team averaging more than 30 points per game this season and a team allowing fewer than 20 points per game this season: Falcons-Eagles and Saints-Broncos. With losses by Atlanta and New Orleans, in the nine games of that kind this season the high-scoring team is 2–7.
Ibaka returns with a vengeance
Serge Ibaka scored a career-high 31 points (including a game-winning field goal in the final second), grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots, all team highs, as the Magic defeated the Thunder, 119–117, at Oklahoma City in Ibaka’s first game against the team for which he played the first seven seasons of his NBA career. It was the first game of Ibaka’s career in which he generated outright team highs in points, rebounds and blocked shots.
Since the NBA began keeping track of blocked shots in 1973–74, the only other player who generated minimums of 30 points and four blocks in his first game against his former team was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who did that for the Lakers at Milwaukee on October 28, 1975 (30 points and nine blocks).
Westbrook can’t do it by himself
Russell Westbrook scored 41 points to go along with his 12 rebounds and 16 assists for Oklahoma City in its loss to Orlando. Over the last 40 seasons (1977–78 to date), the only other players who produced a “triple-dozen” in a game in which they scored at least 40 points were Larry Bird in double-overtime in March 1992, and LeBron James, who also needed overtime to do it in February 2010. The only other NBA player who ever had a game in which he equaled or exceeded the totals of points, rebounds and assists that Westbrook produced on Sunday was Cincinnati’s Oscar Robertson on February 13, 1962 (42 points, 15 rebounds and 18 assists).
Wiggins has a career night
Andrew Wiggins scored a career-high 47 points to lead the Timberwolves to victory over the Lakers and match the combined point total of the five Los Angeles starters. The previous two players who scored at least 47 points in a game against the Lakers did so in losses: Stephen Curry for the Warriors in April 2013 (47 points) and Denver’s Allen Iverson in December 2007 (51 points). Wiggins became the first player who scored 47 or more points in a victory versus the Lakers since Washington’s Gilbert Arenas in December 2006 (60 points in a game that required overtime).
Curry and Thompson lead the Warriors
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each scored 30 points in the Warriors’ victory over the Suns. It was the tenth time that Curry and Thompson both scored at least 30 points in one game for Golden State (but the first time this season) and the Warriors have won each of those games (once in both 2013–14 and 2014–15; seven times last season.)
Frye leads the Cavaliers with 20 points as a non-starter
Channing Frye scored a team-high 20 points for the Cavaliers in his 25 minutes off the bench in their 100–93 triumph over the Hornets, while LeBron James and Kyrie Irving each scored 19 points. It was only the second game that James played during his second tour of duty with the Cavs in which one of his teammates came off the bench to be the team’s outright leading scorer. The previous occurrence was on December 8, 2014, when Dion Waiters led the club with 26 points as a non-starter in a victory at Brooklyn.
Sunday’s game was the first in which Frye came off the bench to produce an outright team-high in points since he did it for Portland in a loss at San Antonio in February 2009. In the interim, Frye was his team’s outright leading scorer in 20 games, all as a starter (for the Suns and Magic).
Rask ties Cheevers with 10th win
Tuukka Rask recorded his 10th win and third shutout in 11 games this season with a 2–0 victory against the Avalanche in Denver on Sunday. Rask has tied Gerry Cheevers’ record for the fewest games in one season that a Bruins goaltender needed to reach double-figures in wins, with Cheevers having done so in 11 games in 1976–77 (10–1–0).
Rask is the fourth Bruins goaltender in the NHL’s expansion era (i.e., since 1967–68) with at least three shutouts in his first 11 games of a season. The others were Ross Brooks in 1973–74 (3), Byron Dafoe in 1998–99 (3) and Tim Thomas in 2010–11 (4).
Hossa breaks own mark
Marian Hossa extended his goal-scoring streak to four games when he tallied a tying goal for the Blackhawks in the second period of their 3–2 win against the Canadiens on Sunday. At age 37, he’s the oldest player ever to score a goal for the Blackhawks in each of four consecutive team games in one season. Hossa broke his own Chicago team record, which he set when he scored goals in four straight games in February 2015, roughly a month after he turned 36 years old.
Enstrom assists on two power play goals in first period
Toby Enstrom assisted on both of the Winnipeg Jets’ first-period power play goals in their 3–2 shootout win over the Kings. This was the second time that a Jets player notched two power play assists in the first period of a game since the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg in 2011. The only other player to do that for the current Jets team was Dustin Byfuglien in a 6–4 Winnipeg victory against the Flyers on Nov. 19, 2011.
Canucks win after trailing three times
Bo Horvat, Brendan Sutter and Troy Stecher each scored a tying goal for the Canucks and Markus Granlund tallied the game-winning goal in overtime when Vancouver beat the Stars, 5–4, on Sunday. Excluding shootout victories, this was the first time that the Canucks won a game in which they trailed three different times since Dec. 15, 2005, when they edged the Flyers in Philadelphia by a 5–4 score. Trevor Linden, Nolan Baumgartner and Markus Naslund scored the tying goals for Vancouver in that game 11 years ago.
Dumba scores in OT
Matt Dumba scored the second overtime goal of his NHL career to earn the Minnesota Wild a 2–1 win over the Senators in Ottawa. Dumba, who tallied his first OT goal in Minnesota’s victory at Nashville on March 17, 2015, is the third defenseman to score more than one regular-season overtime goal for the Wild. The others are Brent Burns (with five) and Marco Scandella (two).