Adams scores late tying, winning touchdowns
Davante Adams caught a one-yard touchdown pass from Brett Hundley with 17 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game, and then scored the game-winning TD on a 25-yard pass from Hundley in overtime to give the Packers a 27–21 win at Cleveland. Only three other players in the regular season or postseason have scored touchdowns in the final minute of the fourth quarter and again in overtime: The Jets’ Wesley Walker in a 51–45 win over the Dolphins in September 1986, the 49ers’ Terrell Owens in a 37–31 victory at Atlanta in October 2001, and the Patriots’ James White in Super Bowl LI in February 2017.
It was the second consecutive game that Green Bay won on an overtime touchdown – last week, Aaron Jones scored on a 20-yard run against Tampa Bay. Only one other team has ever scored an overtime touchdown in two straight games. In 2001, the Bears defeated the 49ers and Browns in consecutive weeks, with Mike Brown scoring the winner on an interception return in both.
Smith scores receiving, rushing TDs in fourth quarter
Rod Smith caught an 81-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott and rushed 15 yards for another score, all within the last five minutes of the Cowboys’ 30–10 road win over the Giants. Smith is the first player in NFL history to catch a TD pass of at least 80 yards and also rush for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game. Only one other Dallas player ever scored receiving and rushing touchdowns of any length in a fourth quarter: Robert Newhouse in a home win over the St. Louis Cardinals in September 1978.
Cards win in unlikely fashion
Phil Dawson kicked four field goals in the second half of the Cardinals’ 12–7 win over the visiting Titans. No team had won a game despite being shut-out in the first half and not scoring a touchdown in the game since the Steelers beat the Dolphins 3–0 in November 2007 on a Jeff Reed field goal with 17 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. The last time the Cardinals won a game in this manner was in October 1923, when Hall-of-Famer Paddy Driscoll kicked three field goals after halftime in a 9–0 victory over the Minneapolis Marines at Chicago’s Comiskey Park.
Roethlisberger works hard for his third 500-yard passing performance
Ben Roethlisberger competed 44 of 56 passes for 506 yards and the Steelers, after surrendering an early 14-point lead, came back to defeat the Ravens, 39–38. Roethlisberger is the first player in NFL history to pass for 500 yards in a game three times, having also done so against the Packers in 2009 and the Colts in 2014. His totals of completions and attempts are the most by any player in a 500-yard passing performance, breaking the records set/tied by Philip Rivers (43-for-65) in 2015 and Matt Schaub (43 completions) in 2012.
Brown gains 213 but doesn’t score
Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards but did not score a touchdown in the Steelers’ win Sunday night. It was the second time that Brown gained 200+ receiving yards without scoring a TD – he racked up 284 but was kept out of the end zone against the Raiders in 2015. No other player in NFL history has had more than one such game.
Jags, Hawks offenses wake up in second half
The Jaguars defeated the visiting Seahawks by a score of 30 to 24 in a game that Jacksonville led 3–0 at halftime. The 54 combined points were the second most in NFL history in a game in which three or fewer were scored in the first half. On Oct. 14, 1979, the Saints won 42–14 at Tampa Bay in a game that was scoreless over the first two quarters.
Wilson throws two long TD passes in fourth quarter
Russell Wilson threw fourth-quarter touchdown passes of 61 yards to Paul Richardson and 74 yards to Tyler Lockett in the Seahawks’ 30–24 loss at Jacksonville. No player had thrown two fourth-quarter TD passes of at least 60 yards in one game since the Rams’ Kurt Warner connected with Torry Holt (85) and Isaac Bruce (66) in a 41–20 win at Atlanta on Sept. 24, 2000. The only other player ever to do that in a loss was the Raiders’ Cotton Davidson, who threw touchdowns of 90 and 65 yards, both to Dick Dorsey, in a 31–21 defeat at San Diego on Dec. 2, 1962.
Stewart sets personal high with three rushing touchdowns
Jonathan Stewart, appearing in his 129th regular-season game, set a career high with three rushing touchdowns, including the game-winner late in the fourth quarter, in the Panthers’ 31–24 home win over the Vikings. Only two other players played as many games before scoring three rushing TDs for the first time: Tiki Barber (in his 154th game in December 2003) and Larry Csonka (134th game in September 1979.)
Stewart’s 60-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was his 10th career rush of 40-or-more yards, and seven of those have come in December or January. The only active players with as many 40-yard rushes after the start of December are Jamaal Charles (9) and Adrian Peterson (7.)
Offense rules in game between two of the NFL’s best teams
The Eagles and Rams, who entered the week tied for the NFL’s highest scoring average, didn’t disappoint, as Philadelphia won, 43–35 at Los Angeles. The Eagles entered the game with a record of 10–2, one game ahead of the 9–3 Rams. It was the highest scoring game in NFL history between two teams that entered the day at least six games above .500. The previous record was set in a 41–34 victory by San Francisco (9–3–1) at New England (10–3) on Dec. 16, 2012.
A shockingly large road win by the Bears
Jordan Howard ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns and the Bears, who entered Sunday with a record of 3–9, defeated the Bengals by a score of 33–7 in Cincinnati. Chicago’ 26-point margin of victory was the sixth largest in NFL history by a road team that entered the day at least six games under .500 (0–7 Bengals 38–3 at Houston in 2002, 3–9 Giants 36–7 at Tennessee in 2014, 3–9 Bills 44–16 at Boston in 1967, 0–7 Dolphins 31–3 at Kansas City in 2011, 2–9 Jets 40–13 at Miami in 2007.)
Four Detroit receivers gain 60+ yards in win
Four Lions receivers – Eric Ebron (94), Golden Tate (85), Theo Riddick (64), and Marvin Jones (64) – gained at least 60 yards in Detroit’s 24–21 win at Tampa Bay. The only other quartet of Lions to have games like that in a non-overtime victory consisted of Leonard Thompson (106), David Hill (69), Freddie Scott (69), and Horace King (64) in a home win over the Buccaneers on Dec. 14, 1980 with Gary Danielson at quarterback.
Overtime TD ends low-scoring game
LeSean McCoy’s 21-yard touchdown run in overtime gave the Bills a 13–7 home win over the Colts. The 20 combined points scored in snowy Buffalo tied the second fewest in NFL history in a game that ended on an overtime touchdown. The Packers defeated the Bears, 12–6 in September 1980; the Chargers downed the 49ers, 13–7 in December 1976; and the Lions beat the Buccaneers, 13–7 in October 1984.
Rookie Hunt burns Oakland again
Kareem Hunt rushed for 116 yards in the Chiefs’ 26–15 home win over the Raiders. Hunt ran for 87 yards in his previous game against Oakland in October. His 203 yards on the ground are the third most by a rookie in a season against the Raiders since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger. Tampa Bay’s Doug Martin gained 251 in one game in 2012, and San Diego’s Don Woods rushed for 225 over two games in 1974.
Broncos ground Jets
The Broncos held the Jets to six first downs in their 23–0 win in Denver. The last team to shut-out an opponent while allowing as few first downs was the Bengals, in a 30–0 road victory over the Browns on Dec. 14, 2014 (5 FD.) The only other time the Broncos did this was also in a win at Cleveland, by a score of 27–0 (6 FD) on Oct. 24, 1971.
Williams averages 33 yards per catch
Tyrell Williams caught four passes for 132 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown from Philip Rivers, in the Chargers’ 30–13 home win over Washington. Williams’s 33.0 yards per catch was the highest by a Bolts receiver who gained at least 120 yards in a game since Jeff Graham averaged 36.0 (4 rec, 144 yds) in a 38–37 loss at Denver on Nov. 19, 2000. Graham’s quarterback was Ryan Leaf, who posted the only triple-digit passer rating of his career in that game (111.8.)
Niners finally win a road game by more than six points
Jimmy Garoppolo passed for 334 yards in the 49ers’ 26–16 win at Houston. San Francisco hadn’t won a road game by more than six points since defeating the St. Louis Rams by a score of 31–17 on Oct. 13, 2014. The Niners’ streak of 27 consecutive road games without a win by at least seven points was the longest by an NFL team since the Cardinals went 28 straight from 2010 to 2013.
Oladipo lights up Nuggets
Victor Oladipo scored 47 points, and added seven rebounds and six assists in the Pacers’ 126–116 overtime win over the visiting Nuggets. The only other Indiana player ever to finish an NBA game with at least 45 points, five rebounds, and five assists was Reggie Miller, at Charlotte on Nov. 28, 1992 (57 pts, 5 reb, 8 ast.)
Indiana hadn’t won an overtime game by a double-digit margin since a 108–97 victory at Atlanta on Dec. 14, 2004.
Eighteen assists for Rondo
Rajon Rondo handed out 18 assists in the Pelicans’ 131–124 home win over the 76ers. It was Rondo’s 17th career game with at least 18 dimes. The only other active player with even half as many games is Chris Paul (14.)
Rondo made five of seven shots from the floor on Sunday (71.4%.) He’d only shot better than 60% in one of his 16 previous 18-assist games (3-for-4 with 20 assists on Nov. 17, 2012.)
Low scoring not a problem for Boston
The Celtics beat the Pistons, 91–81 in Detroit. Boston improved its record to 7–2 (.778) this season when scoring fewer than 100 points. The only other team that has a winning percentage even half as high as Boston’s when scoring in double digits is Brooklyn (2–2.)
A trademark performance by Porzingis
Kristaps Porzingis scored 30 points and blocked three shots in the Knicks’ 111–107 home win over the Hawks. It was the fifth time this season that Porzingis has finished a game with at least 30 points and three blocks, the most by any player. The last Knicks player with as many such games before the end of December was Patrick Ewing in 1990–91 (5.)
DeRozan extends unusual streak
DeMar DeRozan scored 25 points and handed out nine assists in the Raptors’ 102–87 win at Sacramento. It was the fifth straight game that DeRozan has finished with at least 20 points and five assists, but no three-pointers made. The last NBA player to fashion a streak like that was LeBron James in January-February 2016.
Another 20 and a dozen for Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns led all players with 28 points and 12 rebounds in the Timberwolves’ 97–92 home win over the Mavericks. It was Towns’s 10th game this season with at least 20 points and a dozen rebounds, which is the second-highest total in the NBA behind DeMarcus Cousins (12.)
Early goal holds up for Toronto
The Maple Leafs parlayed 41 saves by Curtis McElhinney and a goal by Zach Hyman only 34 seconds after the opening faceoff into a 1–0 win over the Oilers. Not only is this the first time in franchise history that Toronto won a game, regular season or playoffs, on a goal scored in the first minute of the first period, it’s the team’s first 1–0 victory on a goal scored in the first five minutes of a game! The previous club record for the earliest goal in a 1–0 win was 5:20 by Sid Smith against the Canadiens at Maple Leaf Gardens on Nov. 16, 1949.
Tarasenko breaks Blues OT goal record
Vladimir Tarasenko’s first overtime goal this season earned the Blues a 3–2 win against the Sabres on Sunday. It was the eighth regular-season overtime goal for Tarasenko in his NHL and Blues career, which gives him sole possession of the St. Louis franchise record, breaking a tie with the late Pavol Demitra. Tarasenko has scored all of his overtime goals in the last four seasons, which ties him with the Flames’ Sean Monahan for the NHL high over that span.
Two Buffalo teams go to overtime
Sunday was just the second day on which Buffalo’s NFL and NHL teams both played overtime games in either the regular season or playoffs. Any NFL fan of a certain age will remember that the Bills overcame a 32-point deficit to defeat the Houston Oilers in a Sunday afternoon Wild Card playoff game. But only diehard hockey fans will recall that the Sabres beat the Blues that evening at the “Aud” by a score of 6–5, with Brad May scoring the game-winning goal in the extra period.
Another game-winner for Anisimov
Artem Anisimov’s goal with 4:47 left to play in the third period snapped a 1–1 tie and put the Blackhawks on their way to a 3–1 victory against the Coyotes. Anisimov has scored six game-winning goals this season and they’ve all come since November 1. No other NHL player has scored more than four game-winners over the same span.