Elias Says: September 25, 2017

Hunt and the Chiefs are re-writing the record book

The big-play Chiefs did it again, clinching a 24–10 victory over the Chargers when Kareem Hunt scored on a 69-yard jaunt inside the 2-minute warning. It was the ninth consecutive regular-season game in which Kansas City scored a touchdown of 50 yards or longer — three of them by Hunt—extending the NFL-record streak that they set last week. The previous record was seven games by the Bears, spanning the 1964 and 1965 seasons, with Gale Sayers scoring three of the long TDs.

Hunt gained 172 yards on 17 carries on Sunday, and he leads the league with 401 yards this season. Only two other players gained at least 400 rushing yards in their first three games in the NFL: Cadillac Williams, with 434 yards for the Buccaneers in 2005; and Alan Ameche, with 410 yards for the Baltimore Colts in 1955.

Ageless Brady breaks Johnny U’s mark for late game-winners

Tom Brady threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks with 23 seconds to play to give the Patriots a 36–33 win over the Texans. That was the eighth game-winning TD pass that Brady has thrown in the final minute of the fourth quarter, breaking a tie with Johnny Unitas for sole possession of the NFL record. It was also the longest of those eight game-winning touchdowns.

Last week Brady set an NFL record for passing yards in a game by a player 40 or older. On Sunday, he became the second NFL player in his 40s to throw five touchdown passes in a game. The first was Warren Moon, playing for the Seahawks against the Raiders in 1997.

Eagles rookie makes historic home debut

Rookie Jake Elliott kicked a 46-yard field goal to tie the score with 51 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, then delivered a 61-yarder as time expired to give the Eagles a 27–24 win over the Giants. Only one other player in NFL history kicked a game-tying field goal and a game-winner in the final 60 seconds of the fourth quarter. Doug Pelfrey of the Bengals did it against the Eagles in their final game of the 1994 season.

Elliott’s game-winner, which came in the Eagles’ 2017 home opener, was the longest field goal by a rookie in NFL history. The previous record was 60 yards by Greg Zuerlein for the St. Louis Rams in 2012. Elliott’s blast was the longest FG in Eagles history and the longest ever kicked against the Giants.

Manning’s first-of-its-kind comeback goes for naught

Eli Manning threw three touchdown passes in a span of less than 6 minutes early in the fourth quarter to give the Giants a stunning albeit short-lived 21–14 lead over the Eagles. Manning was the first player in NFL history with three TD passes in the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter after his team had failed to score in the first three quarters of the game.

Brees excels, no matter the opponent

Carolina was the first team since Baltimore in 2010 not to allow a touchdown in its first two games of a season. But Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes to lead the Saints to a 34–13 victory over the Panthers. Over the last 10 seasons (2008–17), Brees has started eight games against teams that didn’t allow a touchdown in their previous game. He has thrown 23 TD passes in those eight games, in which New Orleans scored an average of 31.6 points.

Rodgers leads Packers to overtime win

Aaron Rodgers finally got the monkey off his back, passing for 313 yards and three touchdowns in the Packers’ 27–24 overtime victory against the Bengals. Note the adjective: overtime. Sunday’s win was Rodgers’ first in OT, after four overtime losses in the regular season and three in the playoffs. Rodgers has the distinction of being the only quarterback to start OT losses in a Wild Card game, the Divisional round, and a conference championship game.

William Jackson gave Cincinnati the 21–7 lead it took to halftime when he returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown. It was only the second pick-six thrown by Rodgers in his NFL career, and it snapped his league-record streak of 3907 passes without throwing an INT that was returned for a TD. The other pick-six against Rodgers was by Tanard Jackson of Tampa Bay in 2009.

Murray breaks another long TD run

The Titans scored three touchdowns in a span of 6 minutes in the third quarter, including a 75-yard run by DeMarco Murray, and held on for a 33–27 victory over the Seahawks. Murray also scored on a 75-yard run against the Packers last season. Over the last 10 years, the only other players with rushing TDs of 75 yards or longer in consecutive seasons were Willis McGahee (2008–09), Chris Johnson (2009–10), Adrian Peterson (2012–13), and Lamar Miller (2014–15).

Yahoo! Bortles throws 4 TDs in London

Blake Bortles lit up Wembley Stadium with four touchdown passes in the Jaguars’ 44–7 victory over the Ravens. Bortles was only the second player in the last five years with four TD passes against a team that held each of its two previous opponents to 10 or fewer points. Carson Palmer most recently did that, against the Bengals in 2015.

A first for Jags veteran Lewis

Marcedes Lewis, the 12th-year Jacksonville tight end, caught three of Blake Bortles’ touchdown passes. It was the first time that Lewis, playing in his 157th game in the NFL, scored as many as three TDs in one game. Only one other player in league history recorded his first 3-TD regular-season game further into his NFL career than Lewis: Larry Fitzgerald in his 172nd game (2015). But for the record, Fitzgerald caught three touchdown passes for the Cardinals in the NFC Championship game in January 2009.

Howard stars in first 60 minutes, wins it in OT

Jordan Howard capped a 138-yard performance with a 19-yard touchdown run in overtime to give the Bears a 23–17 win over the Steelers. It was only the second OT rushing touchdown in team history, which is noteworthy mainly because of the identity of the player who scored the first one: Jim Harbaugh against the Jets in 1991.

Over the last 10 seasons, only one other player scored a touchdown in overtime after gaining at least 100 rushing yards over the first 60 minutes: Bilal Powell of the Jets at San Francisco last December.

Falcons overcome Ryan’s INTs to remain undefeated

Atlanta eked out a 30–26 win at Detroit in a battle of previously undefeated teams. That might not sound like much on Week 3, but consider this: Since the Falcons joined the NFL in 1966, this is only the second time that they and the Lions both started the season 2–0. The first time was in 2004. Atlanta won its division that year (11–5), but the Lions faded to finish at 6–10.

Matt Ryan threw three interceptions in Atlanta’s victory, in contrast to Matthew Stafford, who did not turn the ball over. That snapped a streak of 35 consecutive regular-season wins by NFL teams that did not throw an INT while intercepting their opponent at least three times.

Bradford & Keenum putting up big numbers for Vikings

Case Keenum set a personal record with 369 passing yards and threw three touchdown passes in the Vikings’ 34–17 win over the Buccaneers. Keenum has started Minnesota’s last two games deputizing for Sam Bradford, who passed for 346 yards but suffered a knee injury in the season opener. Only one other pair of teammates passed for at least 340 yards in a game during September of the same season: Todd Marinovich (395 yards) and Jay Schroeder (380) of the Raiders in 1992.

Revenge of the understudy: McCown tops Cutler

Josh McCown completed 18 of 23 passes, including a 69-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson, in the Jets’ 20–6 victory over Jay Cutler and the Dolphins. That was the second-longest TD pass by McCown, whose 15 seasons in the NFL included three as Cutler’s understudy with Chicago (2011–13). McCown’s only longer touchdown pass was an 80-yard connection with Alshon Jeffery during his tenure with the Bears.

Brissett carries Colts to victory

Jacoby Brissett scored a pair of touchdowns and threw a 61-yard TD pass to T.Y. Hilton, all in the first half, as the Colts defeated the Browns, 31–28. Only one other quarterback in Colts history, including its time in Baltimore, scored the team’s first two touchdowns in a game: Andrew Luck did it twice as a rookie in 2012.

Bills’ D is strong again in victory over Broncos

The Bills held the high-scoring Broncos to just one touchdown in their 26–16 win. Buffalo has allowed only two TDs this season: a one-yard run by Josh McCown in Week 1 and a 12-yard run by Jamal Charles on Sunday. It’s the fewest touchdowns that the Bills have given up over their first three games of a season since 1983.

Snakes, not fish, swim in Arizona

J.D. Martinez hit a walk-off single in Arizona’s 3–2 comeback win vs. the Marlins that clinched a playoff berth and sent delighted D-Backs players scampering into the pool at Chase Field. Martinez has driven in 58 runs in his first 57 games with Arizona this season since coming over from the Tigers. No other player has had as many RBIs through that many games with a team in a season after switching teams, since RBIs became an official statistic in 1920. In fact, three games shy of 60 games with the Diamondbacks, Martinez has tied the second-most RBIs through 60 games with a team in a season after having switched teams. The record holder, Ray Boone, drove in 61 through 60 games for the 1953 Tigers after playing for the Indians. Harry Rice had 58 RBIs in his first 60 games with the 1930 Yankees after coming over from the Tigers, and Jermaine Dye had 58 RBIs through 60 games with the 2001 A’s in 2001 after playing for the Royals.

Indians have best span since 1906 Cubs

The Indians’ 4–2 win in Seattle was their 29th win in the team’s last 31 games. It is the most victories by any major-league team over a 31-game span since the Cubs of 1906 also went 29–2. Those Cubs, who actually earned 37 wins over a span of 39 games, finished that season with a record of 116–36 but lost the World Series to the White Sox.

Kluber’s Cy Young march continues

Corey Kluber pitched seven dominant innings, allowing 2 unearned runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, striking out 10. Since the beginning of August, Kluber is 10–1 with a 1.39 ERA in 11 starts. The last American League pitcher to win 10 of 11 starts in a season with a sub-2.00 ERA was Johan Santana in 2004.

Judge hits two homers in loss in Toronto

Aaron Judge hit two home runs in the Yankees’ 9–5 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. Judge now has 48 homers on the season—one shy of Mark McGwire’s rookie record set in 1987. He has 11 homers this September, tying a Yankees rookie record for a player in a month. Gary Sanchez also hit 11, in August 2016. Judge, who hit 10 home runs in April and June, is the first rookie player with three 10-plus homer months in the same season.

King Clayton defeats Giants, breaks Dodgers record

Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers defeated the Giants 3–1 at Dodger Stadium, with Kershaw allowing 1 run in 8 innings of work, improving to 18–4 and lowering his season ERA to 2.21. Kershaw’s ERA in his last 200 starts (since May 2011) is now 2.04, his lowest ERA over any 200-start span of his career. Since the beginning of the live ball era in 1920, the only other pitcher with an ERA below 2.05 over 200 starts was Greg Maddux. Maddux’s lowest ERA over 200 starts was 2.03, from 1992 to 1998.

Kershaw struck out six batters, reaching exactly 200 on the season. It is Kershaw’s seventh 200-plus strikeout season, breaking a Dodgers franchise record. Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale each had six apiece.

Quintana makes teetotalers out of Brew Crew

Jose Quintana pitched the second shutout of his major-league career as the Cubs defeated the Brewers 5–0 to take the four game series three games to one. Quintana, then on the White Sox, shutout the Indians on July 24, 2015. But this was the most dominant performance of Quintana’s career: he allowed three hits, all singles, walked one and struck out 10. Only three other Cubs pitchers in the last 30 seasons (since 1988) have completed shutouts in which they allowed no extra-base hits and struck out 10-or-more enemies. Kerry Wood did it three times (1998, 2001, 2003), and Carlos Zambrano and Jake Arrieta did it in no-hitters, for Zambrano at Houston on September 14, 2008, and for Arrieta at Los Angeles on August 30, 2015.

Archer has third straight “darling sabermetric season”

Chris Archer and the Rays fell to the Orioles 9–4 at Camden Yards. Archer allowed 6 runs (5 earned) on 8 hits and 1 walk in 3⅔ innings to fall to 9–12 on the season, guaranteeing that Archer will have a losing record for the third straight year. He went 12–13 in 2015 and 9–19 last season. Archer struck out 252 batters in 2015, 233 last season, and has 243 so far this season. Archer will become the first player in major-league history to have three straight losing seasons despite striking out at least 200 batters in each season. Jersey Bakley, in the 1880s, and Jeff Samardzija, in 2013–2014, had streaks of two seasons with 200+ strikeouts and a losing record.

Red Sox steal another game late

Down 4–1 entering the eighth inning in Cincinnati, the Red Sox scored four runs that inning and went on to defeat the Reds 5–4, the winning run scoring on an infield single by Rafael Devers. Boston has won 14 games which they trailed in the 8th inning or later, tied with the A’s for the most such wins this season.

But Hamilton’s season is something they can never take away

Billy Hamilton hit his 10th triple of the season in the loss, becoming the first Reds player since Barry Larkin in 1998 to hit 10 triples in a season. Hamilton, who also swiped his 59th base of the season in the game, is the first Reds player since Bob Bescher in 1912 who stole 50 bases and hit 10 triples in the same season. Bescher had three consecutive 10 triple/50 steal seasons from 1910 to 1912. Hamilton is the fifth active player whose done that, joining Jose Reyes (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008), Hanley Ramirez (2006), Jacoby Ellsbury (2009), and Dee Gordon (2014).

Big four-game sweep as Twins tame Tigers in Detroit

The Twins completed a four game sweep in Detroit with a 10–4 win. They won the first three games of the series 12–1, 7–3, and 10–4, outscoring the Tigers 39–12 in the series. On only one other occasion since moving to Minnesota in 1961, the Twins swept a 4-game series with that high a scoring margin: they outscored the Red Sox 33–6 in a four game sweep at Fenway Park, July 18–21, 1991. Kirby Puckett and Chili Davis combined for 13 RBIs between them in the series. The Twins would go on to defeat the Braves 4–3 in the World Series that season.

Scherzer stimies Mets, earns 70th road win

Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom both entered the rubber game of the Mets-Nationals series in Queens with 15 wins, but Scherzer improved to 16–6 and deGrom fell to 15–10 in the Nationals 3–2 win. Scherzer allowed 1 run on 3 hits and 1 walk in 6 innings, striking out 10 and lowering his ERA to 2.55 on the season. Scherzer improved to 70–40 (.636) in his career on the road. Among players to debut in the last 30 seasons (since 1988) that’s the fourth best road record among pitchers with at least 70 road wins, trailing David Price (.689, 71–32), Pedro Martinez (.683, 112–52), and Carlos Zambrano (.655, 78–41).

Marte trying to clip Cardinals’ wings

Starling Marte put a crimp in the Cardinals’ playoff run, hitting a 2-run fifth-inning home run off Seung-Hwan Oh that gave the Pirates a 3–1 lead in a game they went on to win 4–1, taking the rubber game of the series in Pittsburgh. It was Marte’s 16th game-winning home run of his career, but only his first against the rival redbirds.

Rockies finally gain breathing room with help from Blackmon

The Rockies defeated the Padres 8–4 to salvage a 2–2 series split in San Diego. With the Cardinals and Brewers both losing it was only the second day this month that Colorado has won and both the Cards and Brew Crew have lost. That also happened on September 16. Charlie Blackmon went 2-for-4 with a home run, walk, and 3 runs scored. Blackmon terrorized the Padres this season: he had a .361/.432/.681 slashline against them with 18 runs scored. Three other Rockies players have scored 18 runs vs. the Padres in a season: Todd Helton in 2005 (18), Carlos Gonzalez in 2010 (19), and Dexter Fowler in 2013 (18).