Elias Says: October 23, 2017

Broncos blanked for first time in a long time

On a day when three teams were held scoreless, which was one more than the combined total of shutouts from the first six weeks of the season, perhaps the most surprising zero was posted by the Broncos, who were blanked by the Chargers, 21-0. Sunday’s game marked the 10th time that the Broncos failed to score in a game, and the fourth of those shutouts administered by the Chargers (Denver has still never been shut out at home).

The Broncos had not been shut out in their last 394 games, the second-longest streak in league history behind the 49ers’ 420-game streak from 1977 to 2004. The last time before Sunday that Denver was kept off the scoreboard was on Nov. 22, 1992. Tommy Maddox made his first career start in place of John Elway and completed 18 of 26 passes but was intercepted twice in the Raiders’ 24-0 whitewashing. Maddox lost his next three starts for Denver that season and would not start another NFL game for 10 years.

Jaguars finally capture their first road shutout

The Jaguars posted their first road shutout in team history on Sunday, a 27-0 victory over the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Jacksonville had held its opponent scoreless in five games prior to Sunday, all of which came on its home turf. Only one other NFL team played as many as 180 road games – Jacksonville’s total after Sunday – at the time of its first road shutout. The Jets posted their first road shutout in their 248th game as a visiting team, and even that game required a huge assist from Mother Nature. Pouring rains and 60-mile-per-hour winds led to a slopfest at Foxboro Stadium, with Boomer Esiason’s Jets outlasting Drew Bledsoe’s Patriots by a 6-0 score.

Rams run wild on Cardinals

The Rams dominated the Cardinals on both sides of the ball in their 33-0 destruction of Arizona on Sunday. Los Angeles outgained Arizona by 232 yards, including a 172-yard difference in rushing yardage. That’s the largest rushing advantage by any team this season, and it’s the second-largest for the Rams in a game in the last 15 seasons. The Rams outrushed the Bears by 178 yards in Week 12 of the 2013 season. Three players racked up at least 65 rushing yards for St. Louis that day: Benny Cunningham (109), Zac Stacy (87), and Tavon Austin (65 yards on a single attempt).

Brady looking as good as ever

Tom Brady threw for 249 yards and two touchdown passes to help the Patriots defeat the Falcons in a rematch of Super Bowl LI. Brady, who turned 40 years old in August, leads the NFL with 2208 passing yards, and his total of 15 touchdown passes ties Alex Smith and Deshaun Watson for the most in the league. Brady is the first player in league history to compile at least 2000 passing yards or 10 touchdown passes in his first seven games of a season at age 40 or older. Warren Moon holds the record for most passing yards and touchdowns over a full season at age 40 or older; he totaled 3678 yards and 25 touchdowns at age 40 for the Seahawks in 1997.

Jets brought down by Dolphins in fourth

The Jets led, 28-14, before the Dolphins scored 17 fourth-quarter points to pull out a 31-28 victory. No, it doesn’t entirely make up for the Monday Night Miracle at the Meadowlands (when Vinny Testaverde threw four fourth-quarter touchdown passes and the Jets overcame a 23-point deficit to beat Miami in overtime, back in 2000). But it did mark just the second time in the Jets’ 58-year history that they lost a road game in which they led by 14-or-more points in the fourth quarter. The Jets’ only other loss of that type came just over 50 years ago, in the 1967 season opener at Buffalo. Joe Namath and Co. took a 17-0 lead into the fourth quarter, but Jack Kemp threw a pair of touchdown passes to Art Powell and Mike Mercer kicked two field goals to give the Bills a 20-17 victory. Until Sunday’s loss in South Florida, the Jets had won the last 69 road games in which they held a fourth-quarter advantage of 14-or-more points.

The Jets had won their last 95 games in which they led by eight or more points at any time in the fourth quarter. That had been the second-longest winning streak of its kind in NFL history; the Packers won 101 consecutive games with a lead of that size from 1921 to 1939. Prior to Sunday, New York’s last loss in a game with a fourth-quarter lead of eight or more points came against Jon Gruden’s Raiders in Week 7 of the 1999 season. The Jets entered the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead, but Oakland scored a pair of touchdowns in the final period to seal a one-point win.

Brees hangs another 300 on Packers

Drew Brees completed 27 passes for 331 yards in the Saints’ 26-17 victory over the Packers. Brees has faced the Packers seven times and has passed for at least 300 yards in each of those contests. Only one other quarterback has produced even half as many 300-yard games against the Packers as has Brees; Matthew Stafford has four such games versus Green Bay. But no quarterback had ever racked up at least 300 passing yards in seven consecutive games against a particular opponent before Brees. In fact, Brees is the only player with a streak of five or more consecutive 300-yard games against any team, and he has fashioned streaks of that kind versus six different teams! Brees reached 300 passing yards in six consecutive matchups with the Lions and Falcons, and did so in five straight games versus the Buccaneers, Cowboys, and Panthers.

Elliott scoring like few before him

Ezekiel Elliott crossed the goal line three times for the Cowboys in their 40-10 drubbing of the 49ers. Elliott now has 22 touchdowns in 21 games for Dallas, tying the most touchdowns through a player’s first 21 games in the Super Bowl era. The others to do that since the 1966 season were Billy Sims, Marcus Allen, Eric Dickerson, and Edgerrin James.

It’s no surprise that Elliott led Dallas with 147 rushing yards on Sunday, considering he’s done that in 20 of his 21 games with the team, but he also paced the team with 72 receiving yards on his lone reception of the day. Elliott became the second player on Sunday to lead his team in receiving yardage for a game despite making just one catch, joining the Bears’ Tarik Cohen. The only player to achieve that feat over the first six weeks of this season was the Raiders’ Johnny Holton in Week 4 at Denver.

Jackson’s defense is the best offense for Bears

Bears safety Eddie Jackson provided the bulk of the Bears’ scoring on Sunday, with a pair of return touchdowns to give Chicago an early lead in its 17-3 win over the Panthers. Jackson corralled a fumble in the first quarter and ran 75 yards to put the Bears on the scoreboard. He went one step, and one yard, farther in the second quarter, returning an intercepted pass 76 yards to the house, becoming the first player in NFL history to produce multiple defensive return touchdowns of 75 or more yards in a single game.

Jackson’s heroics overcame the lack of offense by the Bears, who mustered just five first downs, the lowest total by a winning team in over 10 years. The Titans also had five first downs in their win over the Jaguars in Week 15 of the 2006 season, and Tennessee’s defense accounted for all three of the team’s touchdowns in that contest, scoring twice on interceptions and once on a returned fumble.

Bills capitalize on late miscue for comeback win

The Bills scored twice in the final two and a half minutes of the fourth quarter, turning a seven-point deficit into a 30-27 win over the Buccaneers. LeSean McCoy scored a game-tying touchdown with 2:28 remaining, and on their ensuing drive the Buccaneers lost a fumble on their first play from scrimmage. That led to a short field for the Bills offense and a go-ahead field goal by Stephen Hauschka with 14 seconds to play. Sunday’s win marked the first time in franchise history that the Bills won a home game after trailing by at least seven points in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter. Buffalo fashioned several comebacks of that kind in road games, most recently in 1991 against the Raiders in Los Angeles. The only other team this season to win a game in which it trailed by seven or more points within the final three minutes of the fourth quarter was the Packers, who defeated the Bengals in overtime in Week 3 after a late game-tying touchdown from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson.

Titans outkick Browns

Ryan Succop connected on four field goals, including the game-ender in overtime, to help the Titans defeat the Browns in Cleveland. Tennessee became the second team this season to win a game without scoring a touchdown, joining the Panthers who recorded a 9-3 win over the Bills in Week 2. Sunday’s game also marked the sixth time since the Browns returned to the NFL in 1999 that they lost a game despite preventing their opponent from scoring a touchdown. That’s tied with Washington for the most such losses over that span.

Murray snaps slump in Vikings’ win

Latavius Murray broke his two biggest runs of the season in the third quarter of the Vikings’ 24-16 win over the Ravens. Murray had not gained more than 10 yards on 105 carries this season entering the second half of Sunday’s game, but he snapped that streak on Minnesota’s first play from scrimmage in the third quarter with a 35-yard jaunt. Murray then scored the Vikings’ only touchdown of the day on the team’s next possession on a 29-yard draw. Murray is the third player this season to produce multiple runs of 25 or more yards in a quarter, joining teammate Dalvin Cook (Week 1 against the Saints, fourth quarter) and the 49ers’ Carlos Hyde (Week 2 at Seattle, second quarter).

Wilson spreads the love for Seahawks

Russell Wilson completed 27 passes to 11 different receivers in the Seahawks’ 24-7 victory over the Giants. Wilson became just the second quarterback in Seahawks history to complete a pass to more than 10 different players in a game. Tarvaris Jackson also passed successfully to 11 different receivers in Week 2 of the 2011 season, a small silver lining in Seattle’s 24-0 loss to the Steelers.

Boswell ends well

Chris Boswell nailed all five of his field-goal attempts to give the Steelers their winning margin in a 29-14 victory over the Bengals in Pittsburgh. Boswell is the first player to make as many as five field goals in a single game at Heinz Field, which hosted its first NFL game in 2001. He also became the sixth different player since the start of October to kick five or more field goals in a game without a miss, the most such occurrences in a calendar month in league history.

Davis, Cousins posting huge numbers out of the gate for Pelicans

Another big night from Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins led to the Pelicans’ first win of the season, a 119-112 decision over the Lakers in Los Angeles. Davis led New Orleans with 27 points and 17 rebounds, while Cousins contributed 22 points and 11 rebounds. Davis and Cousins have both produced 20 or more points and 10 or more rebounds in each of the Pelicans’ three games this season, making them the second pair of teammates to reach those totals in each of a team’s first three games of a season. Elgin Baylor and Jerry West did it in each of the Lakers’ first five games of the 1961-62 campaign. The last duo with a three-game stretch of that kind at any point of a season was the Spurs’ Twin Towers – Tim Duncan and David Robinson accumulated at least 20 points and 10 rebounds apiece in three straight games in April 1998, as Gregg Popovich was just concluding his first full season as the team’s head coach.

Winner for Wiggins

After Carmelo Anthony gave the Thunder a one-point lead with less than five seconds to play, Andrew Wiggins beat the buzzer with a three-pointer of his own to give the Timberwolves a 115-113 victory in Oklahoma City. That marked the second game-winning field goal in the final five seconds of a game for Wiggins; he also hit a go-ahead shot at the buzzer on Jan. 24, 2017 at Phoenix. Wiggins scored 27 points on Sunday, marking his third straight 20-point game to open the season. He’s the first player since Kevin Love in 2013-14 to score at least 20 points in the Timberwolves’ first three games of a season, and, at age 22, he’s the youngest player in team history to achieve that feat.

Russell off to a good start in Brooklyn

For the first time since early in the 2014-15 season, the Nets will start their day with a winning record after defeating the Hawks on Sunday afternoon and improving to 2-1 on the season. D’Angelo Russell scored 16 points and distributed a game-high 10 assists, bringing his three-game totals with Brooklyn to 63 points and 21 assists. Only one other Nets player had that many points and assists after his first three games of a season – Sam Cassell produced 70 points and 22 assists through three games for the New Jersey Nets in 1997-98.

Early coaching change in Phoenix

The Suns became the first team in NBA history to suffer multiple 40-point losses within its first three games of a season, and head coach Earl Watson paid the price, being relieved of his duties on Sunday. Only two other teams in NBA history replaced their coach within the first four games of a season. Chick Reiser was replaced after the 1952-53 Baltimore Bullets lost their first three games of the season. His replacement, Clair Bee, led the Bullets to the playoffs, albeit with a 16-54 record, the worst of any team in NBA history to qualify for the postseason. After the Buffalo Braves lost their season-opener by 33 points to start the 1971-72 campaign, owner Paul Snyder replaced head coach Dolph Schayes with one of the team’s scouts, Johnny McCarthy. That was McCarthy’s only season as head coach; the Braves finished with a 22-60 record.

Baertschi nets a pair for Canucks in win

Sven Baertschi scored his first two goals of the season in the Canucks’ 4-1 win over the Red Wings in Detroit. Baertschi scored a career-high 18 goals for Vancouver last season, ranking third on the team, behind Bo Horvat (20) and Markus Granlund (19), and he led the Canucks with four multiple-goal games. The only other players who produced more than one multi-goal game for Vancouver last season were Granlund (three) and Brandon Sutter (two).