Elias Says: November 6, 2017

High-powered Rams’ offense is back

After trouncing the Giants 51–17, the Rams are 6–2 with 263 points scored, which is more than their total of 224 points in the 2016 season! Since the NFL moved to a 16-game schedule in 1978 and excluding the strike-shortened 1982 season, only one other team surpassed its previous-season’s points total through 8-or-fewer games the following season. The 2010 Raiders put up 212 points in their first eight games after only scoring 197 in 2009.

Big catch and run stuns Giants on third and 33

Jared Goff threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods on a third-and-33 in the second quarter against the Giants. It was a catch and run on a play in which Woods did the lion’s share of the work. It was the only touchdown on a play of 30-plus yards to go in the last five seasons. In fact, no team had scored on a play with at least 33 to go since the 2001 season, when the Bills’ Rob Johnson threw a 40-yard touchdown to Peerless Price on fourth and 34 late in the fourth quarter of a blowout loss in Indianapolis.

Peterson rushes for 159 yards at age 32

Adrian Peterson rushed for 159 yards on a career-high 37 carries in the Cardinals’ 20–10 win at San Francisco. Peterson, who turned 32 years old in March, is the third-oldest player in NFL history to gain at least 150 yards on the ground in a regular-season game. Washington’s John Riggins was 35 when he ran for 165 against Dallas in 1984, and Pittsburgh’s John Henry Johnson was 34 at the time of his 200-yard game at Cleveland in 1964. Riggins also had two 150-yard performances at age 33 in the 1982 postseason, including 166 in Super Bowl XVII against the Dolphins.

Hilton has huge game in Colts’ win

T.Y. Hilton gained 175 receiving yards and caught two touchdown passes in the Colts’ 20–14 win in Houston. Since the Colts moved to Indianapolis in 1984, their only other player with 175-plus receiving yards and two TD receptions in a game was Marvin Harrison, who had 176 yards and two touchdowns in a 38–35 win in Tampa on Oct. 6, 2003. Harrison’s game was an epic comeback on Monday Night Football in which the Tony Dungy’s Colts trailed Jon Gruden’s Bucs 35–14 late in the fourth quarter, before Peyton Manning led a comeback send the game into overtime and the Colts won on a field goal.

6–2 Saints poised for Super Bowl run?

The Saints defeated the Bucs 30–10 to extend their winning streak to six games and improve to 6–2 on the season. Five other teams won six straight games after a 0–2 start, and the only two teams to previously do it in the Super Bowl era won the Super Bowl! The other teams to reach 6–2 after a 0–2 start were the 1924 Packers, 1937 Packers, 1947 Bears, 1993 Cowboys, and 2007 Giants.

Prescott’s passing and rushing lead Dallas to a win

Dak Prescott passed for two touchdowns and ran for another in the Cowboys’ 28–17 home win over the Chiefs. It was the third time in his last four games, and the fifth time in his two professional seasons that Prescott has been responsible for multiple passing touchdowns and a rushing score. The only other players to have as many games by the end of their second NFL/AFL season are Cam Newton (6), Jack Kemp (5), and Steve Grogan (5.)

Kansas City scores a long touchdown just before halftime

It didn’t lead to a win, but Tyreek Hill’s 56-yard catch and run on a pass from Alex Smith to end the first half at Dallas was one of the highlights of the day. It was the longest offensive touchdown to be scored with no time remaining in the first half since Deion Branch caught a 59-yard pass from Tom Brady at Chicago in December 2010. And it was the longest such touchdown in Chiefs franchise history.

Cook reaches triple digits for the second time in three games

Jared Cook led all players with 126 receiving yards in Oakland’s 27–24 win at Miami. It was the second time in his last three games that Cook has gained at least 100 receiving yards, having also done so in a win over Kansas City on Oct. 19. The last Raiders tight end to gain at least 100 yards receiving twice in a span of three games was Todd Christensen in 1985.

Ajayi makes statement in debut with Eagles

Jay Ajayi scored on a 46-yard touchdown run in his Eagles’ debut, a 51–23 rout of the Broncos. It was the third-longest touchdown run for a player making his Philadelphia debut. Earl Gros had a 59-yard touchdown run in his first game with the Eagles on Sept. 13, 1964 against the Giants, and Darren Sproles ran 49 yards for a score on Sept. 7, 2014, in his Philly debut in a game against the Jaguars.

Byard picks two more in Titans’ win

Kevin Byard intercepted two Joe Flacco passes in the Titans’ 23–20 home win against the Ravens. The Titans are now 5–3, and Byard leads the NFL with six interceptions. He is the only player in the last three seasons (since 2015) to have six picks in his team’s first eight games. He is the first Titans/Oilers player to do so since Mike Reinfeldt had eight interceptions in the Oilers’ first eight games in 1979 en route to 12 on the season. Reinfeldt’s 12 interceptions in 1979 are tied for a Titans/Oilers record for most interceptions in a season with Fred Glick (in 1963.)

Cam gains 86 on ground in Panthers’ win over Falcons

Cam Newton led the Panthers with 86 rushing yards—out of 201—in their 20–17 triumph over the rival Falcons. Newton has now rushed for 251 yards in his last four games, his most over a four-game span since December 2012, when he rushed for 261. The last quarterback to rush for at least 250 yards over four games within a season was Tyrod Taylor, who rushed for 250 yards in his last four games of the 2015 season.

Bengals’ offense barley sees field in big loss in Jacksonville

In a battle of big cats, the Jaguars dominated the Bengals 23–7, a final score that did not quite capture the one-sidedness of the game. The Jaguars ran 78 offensive plays to the Bengals 37, the fewest in a single game in Cincinnati’s franchise history. The Bengals’ previous-low was 38 offensive plays in a 34–0 home loss against the Browns on Oct. 18, 1987, in a game that featured replacement players during the players’ strike. The 37 offensive plays tied an NFL-low in a game over the past 7 seasons (since 2011). Incredibly, the other team with 37 was the Chicago Bears, who ran 37 offensive plays in week seven of this season in a 17–3 home win against Carolina!

Seattle, Washington exchange go-ahead TDs after the two-minute warning

Rob Kelley’s one-yard touchdown run with 59 seconds remaining gave Washington a 17–14 win at Seattle. Kelley’s score came 35 seconds after Doug Baldwin’s touchdown catch had given the Seahawks a 14–10 advantage. It was the second NFL game this season in which both teams scored go-ahead touchdowns in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. The Packers won the previous contest by a score of 35–31 at Dallas on Oct. 8.

Harden’s big game puts him in elite company

James Harden scored 56 points, making 19 of 25 shots from the floor (76%), and also handed out 13 assists in the Rockets’ 137–110 home win over the Jazz. Harden’s point total was the highest ever by an NBA player who had as many as 13 assists in a regular season or playoff game. The previous high was 53 points by Wilt Chamberlain (who had 14 assists in the game) in March 1968 and by Harden (17 assists) last New Year’s Eve.

The only other players ever shoot 75% or better from the field while taking 20+ shots and distributing at least a dozen assists in a game are all in the Hall of Fame: Wilt Chamberlain (three times), Magic Johnson (twice), Isiah Thomas, Charles Barkley, and Clyde Drexler. Drexler was the last to do so, against Denver in November 1990 (18/22 FG, 12 assists.)

Beal’s third straight high-scoring game

Bradley Beal led all players with 38 points in the Wizards’ 107–96 win at Toronto. In his previous two games, Beal put up 40 points against the Suns and 36 against the Cavaliers. The only other Washington players in the last 30 years to score at least 35 points in three consecutive games were Bernard King (February-March 1991) and Gilbert Arenas (in both April 2006 and February 2007.)

Spurs subs fashion a rare streak

Dejounte Murray (13 points), Rudy Gay (12), Bryn Forbes (12), and Brandon Paul (11) all came off the bench to score double-digit points in the Spurs’ 112–95 win over the visiting Suns. In San Antonio’s last game, a win over Charlotte on Friday, Forbes (22), Gay (20), Murray (10), and Manu Ginobili (10) didn’t start but scored 10+ points apiece. It’s the first time in the Spurs’ 42 seasons in the NBA that they’ve had four bench players score at least 10 points in two straight games. The last NBA team to do that in two straight games while also winning both was the Rockets in February 2012.

Lillard continues hot start

Damian Lillard led all players with 36 points in the Trail Blazers’ 103–99 home win over the Thunder. Lillard has scored 271 points in 10 games this season, representing the third-highest total in team history through that number of contests. Lillard himself scored 306 points last season, and Kiki Vandeweghe scored 282 in 1986–87.

Knicks overcome late deficit behind big quarter by Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis scored 17 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter and the Knicks overcame a 12-point deficit after three periods to defeat the Pacers, 108–101. The last New York player to score as many points in the fourth quarter of a game his team rallied to win after trailing by double digits at the end of the third was Jamal Crawford, who put 20 points on the scoreboard over the final 12 minutes at Denver on Nov. 8, 2006.

Smart comes off the bench to fill the boxscore

Marcus Smart came off the bench to score 11 points and also contributed eight rebounds and eight assists in the Celtics’ 104–88 win at Orlando. It was the second time that Smart has put up at least eight in the points, rebounds, and assists categories in a game he did not start – he had a triple-double off the bench against the Suns in January 2016. Before that, the previous two Celtics substitutes to notch a “triple-eight” were Dana Barros in March 1998 and Larry Bird in April 1985.

Heat survive rough fourth quarter

Hassan Whiteside led the Heat with 21 points and 17 rebounds, and Miami escaped with a 104–101 road win over the Clippers despite being outscored 35–15 in the fourth quarter. It was the third time that the Heat have won a game in which they were outscored by at least 20 points in the fourth period. Miami won in overtime at Washington in March 1997, and in regulation time at Dallas in December 2011.

Hawks starting five start hot in Cleveland

Luke Babbitt scored eight of his 17 points in the first quarter, and the other four Hawks starters all chipped in with at least five points in the opening period of the Hawks’ 117–115 win at Cleveland. It was the third time that a team has had all five starters score five-or-more points in the first quarter of a game against a team with LeBron James in the starting lineup. The Kings did that at home against the Cavaliers on March 13, 2009, and the Trail Blazers did so in Portland against Cleveland on Nov. 4, 2014.

Teague swishes and dishes before halftime

Jeff Teague scored 13 points and handed out nine assists in the first half of the Timberwolves’ 112–94 win over the visiting Hornets. Over the last 18 seasons, the only other Minnesota player to match Teague in those two categories before halftime is Ricky Rubio, who had 13 points and 13 assists against Washington on March 13, 2017.

Rookie Barzal assists on five goals

Mathew Barzal became the first rookie in Islanders history to record five assists in one game when the Isles beat the Avalanche, 6–4, in Brooklyn on Sunday. He’s only the fifth rookie on any NHL team to rack up five assists in one game over the last 30 years. The other rookies with five-assist games since 1987 were Sergei Makarov (1989–90 Flames), Evgeni Malkin (2006–07 Penguins), Alexandre Picard (2006–07 Flyers) and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (for the Oilers in a 9–2 rout of the Blackhawks on Nov. 19, 2011.) Barzal also tied the Islanders record for most points in one game by a rookie (five), a mark set by Dave Hudson in the team’s inaugural season, 1972–73, and previously equaled by Bryan Trottier (twice), Mike Bossy, Pat LaFontaine, Mikko Makela and John Tavares.

Habs rookie blanks Chicago

Canadiens rookie Charlie Lindgren notched the first shutout of his NHL career with a 38-save 2–0 victory against the Blackhawks in Chicago. Lindgren is the first Montreal rookie to post a shutout since March 31, 2016, when Mike Condon beat the Lightning in Tampa, 2–0. Lindgren also matched the high for saves by a Canadiens rookie in a shutout victory during the NHL’s expansion era. The other Montreal rookies to make 38 saves in a shutout win since 1967–68 were Ken Dryden (Oct. 30, 1971 vs. Detroit) and Carey Price (March 11, 2008 vs. New Jersey.)

Mrazek busy in shutout of Oilers

Petr Mrazek recorded his first shutout of the season and the 11th shutout of his NHL career with a 4–0 win at Edmonton in which he made 36 saves. Mrazek, who’s spent his entire six-year NHL career with Detroit, has made 35 or more saves in four of his 11 shutouts. The last Red Wings goaltender other than Mrazek to register a regular-season shutout while making 35-plus saves was Joey MacDonald, who stopped 37 shots in a 2–0 win at Columbus on March 17, 2011.