Elias Says: November 20, 2017

Saints, channeling Tebow, pull off miraculous win

The Saints improved to 8–2 and extended their winning streak to eight games with a 34–31 win over the Redskins in overtime. New Orleans had trailed, 31–16, with three minutes to play in the fourth quarter, but Drew Brees threw touchdown passes to Josh Hill and Alvin Kamara, the second of which was capped with a two-point conversion to tie the game.

The Saints had never won a game in which they trailed by 14 or more points in the fourth quarter. Prior to the win over Washington, the Saints’ record when trailing in the fourth quarter had been no wins, 233 losses and one tie (in 1971 against Oakland). Previously, their largest fourth-quarter comeback wins had come on December 28, 2014 and at San Diego on October 2, 2016, each from a deficit of 13 points. The only other NFL team that won a game after trailing by at least 15 points with less than three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter was Denver, which won in Miami, 18–15, in overtime on October 23, 2011. Tim Tebow was miraculous that day, throwing late touchdown passes to Demaryius Thomas and Daniel Fells, followed by his own two-point-conversion run.

Thielen amazing again in Vikings’ win

The Vikings defeated the Rams, 24–7, to improve to 8–2, as Adam Thielen continue his torrid play. Thielen caught six passes for 123 yards and a touchdown, which came on a 65-yard catch and run in which 60 of the yards came after the catch. Thielen has amassed 387 receiving yards in his last three games (98, 166, and 123) with a touchdown in each game. He’s just the second NFL player over the last two seasons to accumulate 380 or more receiving yards over a three-game span, with at least a touchdown reception in each game; T.Y. Hilton did it over three games in September and October of last season. No Vikings receiver has had a span like that since Randy Moss in 2003; in fact, Moss and Cris Carter are the only two other Vikings players to have 380 plus receiving yards over three games, with a touchdown in each.

Eagles erupt for big win at Dallas

Dallas held a tenuous 9–7 lead over Philadelphia at halftime, but the Eagles exploded for four touchdowns in a span of 15:01 and rolled to a 37–9 road victory over the Cowboys. Now in its 58th season in the NFL, Dallas lost only one other game by more than 20 points after leading at the intermission. On December 9, 1962, Dallas held a 20–14 lead at halftime, but lost, 52–20, to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Over the last 25 seasons, Philadelphia is the only team to win by a margin of 28 points or more at Dallas, and the Eagles have done it three times during that span. Their other big road wins over the Cowboys were in 2001 (36–3) and 2004 (49–21). The Eagles were the first team ever to outscore the Cowboys by at least 30 points in the second half of a game at Dallas, in the regular season or the playoffs.

Buffalo rookie throws 5 INTs, Chargers rout Bills

The Chargers posted their highest point total since 1985 in a 54–24 victory over the Bills, as they took advantage of a historically poor performance by Buffalo’s first-time starting quarterback, Nathan Peterman. The Bills’ fifth-round draft pick in the 2017 NFL Draft was intercepted on five of his 14 passes. Some noteworthy details:

  • Buffalo’s first drive ended when Korey Toomer intercepted Peterman and returned his INT 59 yards for a touchdown. On the Bills second drive, Casey Hayward made the first of his two interceptions against Peterman. Over the last 15 seasons, the only other quarterback to be picked off on each of the first two drives of his first NFL start was Nick Foles of the Eagles in 2012.

  • Six other active players threw a pick-six in their first NFL start: Josh McCown, Alex Smith, Jay Cutler, Scott Tolzien, Jameis Winston, and Kevin Hogan earlier this season.

  • Only one other player since 1990 threw as many as five INTs in his first start in the NFL: Keith Null of the St. Louis Rams in 2009.

  • Peterman was only the fifth player in NFL history be intercepted five times in a game in which he threw fewer than 15 passes. Three players did it in the 1930s: Harry Newman, Pug Rentner, and Johnny Gildea. The other was Archie Manning in 1973, as the Saints lost to the Falcons, 62–7.

  • Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo’s deposed starting QB who relieved Peterman in the second half, has been intercepted on five of his last 434 passes, dating back to last November.

The Chargers were the first team to intercept five passes in the first half of a game since Miami did it on Monday Night Football on December 3, 1973 against Pittsburgh. Joe Gilliam, the Steelers’ starting quarterback, threw seven passes without a completion and was picked off three times; Terry Bradshaw, returning from a separated shoulder, threw two more INTs before halftime and another in the second half. Dolphins safety Dick Anderson, en route to winning the league’s Defensive Player of the Year Award, tied an NFL record that still stands with four interceptions in the game, returning two of them for TDs.

Finally, the Chargers last scored as many as 54 points in a 54–44 win over the Steelers 32 years ago, with Dan Fouts passing for 372 yards and three touchdowns.

Ravens blank Packers at Lambeau

The Ravens defeated the Packers, 23–0, at Lambeau Field, evening their record at 5–5. Remarkably, it was Baltimore’s third shutout win of the year, having blanked the Bengals, 20–0, in Cincinnati in the season opener and then routing the Dolphins, 40–0, at home on October 26. The last NFL team to pitch three shutouts in their first 10 games of a season was the 2000 Ravens, who started 6–4 with three shutouts. (In fact, no NFL team had earned three shutouts over a full season since the Patriots in 2003.) Most pointedly, no NFL team that reached the 10-game mark with a winning percentage at or below .500 had produced three shutouts in those 10 games since the 1943 Lions, who started 3–6–1 with three shutouts (one of which was the league’s last 0–0 tie, against the Giants).

Fitzgerald catches a touchdown from 14th different passer

Larry Fitzgerald caught nine Blaine Gabbert passes for 91 yards and a touchdown in the Cardinals’ 31–21 loss in Houston. Fitzgerald has now caught touchdown passes from 14 different passers, the most for any active player (Delanie Walker and Jason Witten stand next at 11). In addition, Fitzgerald extended his league record for catching touchdown passes from the most different teammates, all with the same team. The Cardinals star has scored touchdowns on passes from Josh McCown, Shaun King, Kurt Warner, John Navarre, Matt Leinart, Brian St. Pierre, Derek Anderson, Max Hall, John Skelton, Kevin Kolb, Richard Bartel, Carson Palmer, Drew Stanton, and Gabbert.

Fournette continues inspired rushing in Cleveland

Leonard Fournette gained 111 yards on 28 carries in the Jaguars’ 19–7 win in Cleveland, and now has 541 rushing yards in his last five games. Only two other Jaguars ran for 500 yards over a five-game span: Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew. Fournette’s total of 541 yards over five games is the most for a Jaguars’ rookie, ahead of Jones-Drew in 2006 (519) and Taylor in 1998 (512).

The Patriots have even mastered international travel

Add the following to the list of things that Belichick, Brady, and the Patriots do better than anyone else: Play outside the United States. Sunday’s 33–8 rout of the Raiders at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City represented the smallest margin of victory in the Patriots’ three games on foreign soil. New England had a pair of wins at Wembley Stadium in London: 35–7 over the Buccaneers (2009) and 45–7 over the Rams (2012). To put that in perspective: The Patriots have played in three of the 30 NFL games played outside the U.S., and they accounted for three of the eight biggest wins.

Giveaways send Broncos to 6th straight loss

The Bengals defeated the Broncos, 20–17, extending Denver’s losing streak to six games. The last time Denver lost six straight games in one season was 1990, and that streak coincides with the last time that the Broncos lost the turnover battle in six consecutive games.

Denver turned the ball over twice on Sunday while the Bengals played a turnover-free game. That negated the Broncos’ yardage edge in both rushing (112–49) and passing (229–141). Over the course of 50 seasons in the NFL, Cincinnati had won only two other games in which its opponents had a 50-yard edge in both rushing and passing—that’s two wins in 51 previous regular-season games of that type—one in 1990, the other in 1995.

Interceptions thrown by Vereen…and Kelce?

The Giants defeated the Chiefs, 12–9, in overtime, in a game in which each team threw an interception by a non-quarterback. The Chiefs’ Daniel Sorensen intercepted Shane Vereen in the first quarter and the Giants’ Landon Collins picked off a Travis Kelce pass in the fourth. It was only the second game in the Super Bowl era in which each team threw an interception by a player other than a quarterback. The other game was a 30–19 Broncos win over the Chargers in Denver on November 11, 1973, in which Chargers’ wide receiver Ron Holliday threw an interception and so did Broncos’ kicker Jim Turner.

Lions roar on road

The Lions defeated the Bears, 27–24, in Chicago, with Matt Prater nailing a 52-yard field goal with 1:35 remaining. (Connor Barth missed a 46-yard attempt with eight seconds left, which could have sent the game to overtime.) The 2017 Lions now have wins at Minnesota, at Green Bay, and at Chicago. The only other season in which Detroit had road victories against the Vikings, Packers and Bears was 1961.

Time for Fitzpatrickmania in Tampa?

Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Bucs to a 30–20 win in Miami, going 22-for-37 for 275 yards, with a pair of touchdown passes and no interceptions, and a 100.6 rating. Fitzpatrick is now 2–0 as a Bucs’ starter. He also started 2–0 with his last two teams, the Jets in 2015 and the Texans in 2014. Fitzpatrick has never had a 3–0 start with any of his previous six teams, and it could be a tall order to do so for the Bucs, who travel to Atlanta next week.

Another statement game for Lonzo

Lonzo Ball delivered his second triple-double of the season, leading the Lakers to a 127–109 victory over the Nuggets with 11 points, 16 rebounds, and 11 assists. Ball, who played his 17th NBA game on Sunday night, didn’t achieve his second TD as quickly as fellow rookie, Ben Simmons, who needed only nine games for his first two two triple-doubles earlier this season. But prior to Ball and Simmons, no player had two TDs in his first 20 NBA games since Magic Johnson in 1979 (2 in his first 12 games).

Over the last 20 seasons, only one Lakers rookie had as many as 15 rebounds in a game: Tarik Black had 19 boards against the Mavericks late in the 2014–15 season.

A new trick for the Splash Bros.

Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were not only the Warriors’ leading scorers in Sunday’s 118–111 win at Brooklyn, they also led the team in rebounds. Curry scored 39 points with 11 rebounds; Thompson had 23 points and 10 boards. It was the first time that Golden State’s starting guards both reached double-figures in rebounds since March 30, 1989. In a victory at Charlotte, Mitch Richmond and Winston Garland had 12 rebounds each.

DeRozan takes charge for Raptors

DeMar DeRozan scored 33 points to lead the Raptors to a 100–91 victory over the Wizards. DeRozan was a one-man show for Toronto; no other Raptors player scored more than 12 points. But that’s nothing new. This was the eighth game in calendar year 2017 in which DeRozan outscored every teammate by more than 20 points. The only other players to do that as often as DmDr this year are Russell Westbrook and James Harden (14 each).

Indiana’s rare laugher in Miami

The Pacers outscored the Heat, 32–13, in the third quarter and cruised to a 120–95 victory. That was Indiana’s largest margin of victory in 55 regular-season games at Miami. The Pacers’ previous high was a 22-point win in 2004 (87–65), with Ron Artest and Jermaine O’Neal sharing individual scoring honors with 22 points each. Indiana had never before scored 120 or more points in a game at Miami.

AmericanAirlines Arena has been a house of horrors for Indiana in the playoffs. The Pacers have lost 10 of 13 postseason games there, scoring as many as 100 points in only one of them, and that was a 103–102 loss in 2013.

Drummond & Pistons rally for late win

The Timberwolves won each of the first three quarters, but Detroit outscored the T’Wolves, 29–17, in the fourth quarter to steal a 100–97 victory at Minnesota. That ain’t easy. Over the last four seasons, visiting teams that were outscored in each of the first three quarters of a game have a 13–462 record, for an .027 winning percentage—equivalent to one win ever7 37 games.

Andre Drummond led the Pistons with 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to maintain his NBA lead. Drummond’s total of 92 games with at least 15 points and 15 boards over the last five seasons is by far the highest in the league during that time. DeMarcus Cousins, the runner-up, has 60.

Hank shuts out the Senators, continues his climb

Henrik Lundqvist posted his second shutout of the season with a 3–0 win against the Senators at Madison Square Garden. It was the 63rd regular-season shutout for Lundqvist in a 13-season NHL career spent entirely with the Rangers. That breaks a tie with Toronto’s Turk Broda and moves Lundqvist into sole possession of seventh place on the list of most shutouts by a goaltender for one NHL team. He trails Martin Brodeur (124, Devils), Terry Sawchuk (85, Red Wings), George Hainsworth (75, Canadiens), Tiny Thompson (74, Bruins), Tony Esposito (74, Blackhawks), and Alex Connell (64 for the original Ottawa Senators).

Teravainen on a tear for Hurricanes

Teuvo Teravainen (two goals, one assist) and Sebastian Aho (one goal, two assists) each tallied three points in the Hurricanes’ 4–2 win against the Islanders. Teravainen has produced five goals and five assists in Carolina’s last four games, becoming only the second Hurricanes player with a double-digit point total over a span of four team games since the Hartford Whalers moved to North Carolina in 1997. Eric Staal did so six times (including overlapping spans), the most recent of which was in November 2010 when he racked up 11 points in four games.

Aho’s goal, which gave the Hurricanes a 1–0 lead, extended his goal-scoring streak to four games. (When his streak began on Monday, Aho had not scored a goal in any of his 15 games this season.) This is only the second time in the last four seasons that a Carolina player scored in four consecutive games; Jeff Skinner did it in March 2017.

MacKinnon scores in OT after Avs’ 3rd-period comeback

Nathan MacKinnon’s overtime goal capped a Colorado comeback from a 3–1 third-period deficit and earned the Avalanche a 4–3 victory at Detroit. The Avs seemed headed for a loss when Niklas Kronwall scored a power play goal at the 11:07 mark of the third period to give the Red Wings a 3–1 lead, but Colorado tied the score on goals by Nail Yakupov and Carl Soderberg, then won the game on MacKinnon’s third career overtime goal. This is the first time the Avalanche won a game in which it trailed by two goals in the final seven minutes of the third period since December 16, 2001, when they beat the Wild in Minnesota, 3–2 in overtime. Hall of Famer Joe Sakic scored the winning goal in that game.

A Quick hook

The Golden Knights, who beat the Kings 4–2 on Sunday, chased Jonathan Quick by scoring three goals over the first 11:22 of the first period. Quick, who was making his 502nd NHL start, was lifted during the first period of a game for just the sixth time in his career, and the first time since January 3, 2015 against the Predators.

Montour leading from behind

Sophomore defenseman Brandon Montour scored the eventual game-winning goal early in the third period of Anaheim’s 3–2 win over the Panthers. It was Montour’s sixth lamp-lighter of the season. Only St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo (7) has more goals among NHL defensemen in 2017–18. Montour is the first Ducks’ backliner to score as many as six goals prior to the team’s 20th game of a season.