Elias Says: Jan. 7, 2018

Another tough playoff loss for Andy Reid

The Titans trailed 21–3 at halftime but stormed back to take a 22–21 victory at Kansas City. It was the second-largest halftime deficit in NFL history overcome in a non-overtime postseason win. The biggest also came in the Wild Card round at the expense of Andy Reid’s Chiefs, by the Colts in January 2014 (won 45–44 after trailing 31–10 at halftime.)

Reid is the only head coach to lose multiple postseason games in which his team led by as many as 17 points at any point in the contest. And Reid’s two postseason losses by margins of one point tie Jim Fassel and Marty Schottenheimer for the most by any individual.

Mariota throws, catches TD pass (in this case, the same pass)

Tennessee scored its first touchdown when Marcus Mariota caught his own deflected pass and ran it into the end zone. On that one play, Mariota became the first player ever to throw and catch a touchdown pass in the same postseason game. The only touchdown ever scored in the regular season on a completed pass by a player to himself was by the Vikings’ Brad Johnson against the Panthers in 1997.

Ageless Bryant kicks Falcons past Rams

Matt Bryant kicked field goals of 29, 51, 25, and 54 yards without a miss in the Falcons’ 26–13 road win over the Rams. Bryant, who was 42 years, 222 days old on Saturday, is the oldest kicker to go 4-for-4 or better in a postseason game. The only other player to do that after his 38th birthday is Adam Vinatieri, who was perfect on four attempts for the Colts against the Bengals on Jan. 4, 2015 at the age of 42 years, 7 days.

Before Saturday, the only 40-something player to kick a postseason field goal of at least 50 yards was Vinatieri, in the previously mentioned game against Cincinnati. Bryant became the fourth player of any age to kick multiple playoff field goals 50+ yards. The previous three all did so last year: Matt Prater (Lions at Seattle), and Dan Bailey and Mason Crosby, both in a Packers win at Dallas.

Jones comes through in the red zone

Julio Jones scored the game’s final touchdown on an eight-yard pass from Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter of the Falcons’ win. Jones gained 1444 receiving yards during the 2017 regular season, but he scored only one red-zone touchdown. The only players who have ever had as many yards receiving and as few red-zone TD catches in a season were Victor Cruz (1536 yards, 1 RZ-TD in 2011), Josh Gordon (1646, 1 in 2013), and Antonio Brown (1499, 1 in 2013.)

Another efficient performance by Ryan

Matt Ryan completed 21 of 30 passes for 218 yards, a touchdown, and no interceptions in the Falcons’ Wild Card victory. Those numbers work out to a 101.8 passer rating. Ryan’s rating has now reached triple digits in each of his last five postseason games. That ties Joe Flacco (Jan. 2013 – Jan. 2015) for the longest streak by any player in the last 10 years.

Curry scores 45, spends the final quarter on the bench

Stephen Curry scored 45 points despite sitting out the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 121–105 win over the Clippers in Los Angeles. The only other players in the last 10 years to score as many points without playing after the end of the third quarter were Curry himself (46 on April 13, 2016) and his teammate Klay Thompson (60 on Dec. 5, 2016.) The last NBA player to do that in a road game was Kobe Bryant, who scored 51 over the first three quarters at Denver on Feb. 12, 2003.

One day makes a big difference for Pistons

Tobias Harris led all players with 27 points as the Pistons defeated the Rockets, who entered Saturday with a 27–10 record, by a score of 108–101. On Friday, Detroit lost 114–78 to the 76ers, who had been 18–19. Only one other team in NBA history has, on two consecutive days, lost by 35+ points to an opponent with a losing record and then beaten a team that was 15+ games over .500. That was the New Orleans Jazz, who in February 1979 were routed 158–102 by the 30–39 Bucks and then the next day beat the 42–26 Spurs by a score of 124–122.

Greek Freak extends streak

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 34 points, shooting 12-for-17 from the field, to go along with his 12 rebounds and seven assists in the Bucks’ 110–103 win at Washington. It was the fifth consecutive game that Antetokounmpo has finished with at least 20 points, five rebounds, and five assists while making at least half his field-goal attempts. The only other active player who’s ever fashioned a five-game streak of that type is LeBron James, who has several, the longest being eight games in 2012.

Cavs score 107 through three periods

LeBron James scored 33 points and also contributed 10 rebounds and nine assists as the Cavaliers, who led 107–87 after three quarters, held on to win 131–127 at Orlando. Cleveland’s total of 107 points was the third highest in team history entering the fourth quarter; the Cavs scored 112 against Portland on Nov. 23, 2016 and 109 versus San Antonio on Oct. 18, 1979.

Oladipo’s scoring, thievery lead Indiana past Chicago

Victor Oladipo scored 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting (81.8%) and also notched five steals in the Pacers’ 125–86 rout of the visiting Bulls. No NBA player had finished with at least 20 points and five steals, and a field-goal percentage of at least 80% since the Spurs’ Manu Ginobili in a road win over the Lakers on Jan. 22, 2016 (20 pts, 5 stl, 9-for-10 FG.) The last Indiana player to have a game like that was Clark Kellogg (31 pts, 5 stl, 14-for-17), at Detroit on Jan. 24, 1984.

A fine performance by Minnesota trio

Karl-Anthony Towns (21 points, 16 rebounds), Jimmy Butler (21 pts, 7 reb), and Andrew Wiggins (20 pts, 8 reb) led the Timberwolves to a 116–98 victory over the visiting Pelicans. It was the first time that three Minnesota players finished with at least 20 points and seven rebounds in a win since New Year’s Day 2007, when Kevin Garnett (32 pts, 14 reb), Ricky Davis (25 pts, 7 reb) and Mark Blount (21 pts, 7 reb) starred in a 102–96 victory at Charlotte.

Cauley-Stein swipes seven for Sacramento

Willie Cauley-Stein nearly doubled his career high with seven steals in the Kings’ 106–98 home win over the Nuggets. Cauley-Stein’s seven thefts are the most by any NBA starting center in a victory since the Spurs’ David Robinson finished with seven on Feb. 18, 2000 against the Rockets. The last Kings starting center to be credited with seven steals in a win was Sam Lacey, in a home game against Portland at Kansas City on Feb. 5, 1975.

Low-scoring wins are now rare

The Celtics won a defensive battle, 87–85 at Brooklyn. This NBA season, approximately at its midway point, has seen only four teams win games in which they failed to score as many as 90 points (Spurs 87, Bulls 77 on Oct. 21; Heat 84, Jazz 74 on Nov. 10; Kings 86, Blazers 82 on Nov. 17.) Such wins have been on a steady decline, from 61 in 2014–15, to 30 in 2015–16, and 20 in 2016–17. The shot-clock era record for wins when scoring fewer than 90 points is 244, in 2003–04.

Bruins score five in the first

The Bruins scored five goals in the first period of their 7–1 win against the Hurricanes. It was the first time that Boston scored as many as five first-period goals in a regular-season game since Jan. 2, 1994, in an 8–2 victory over the Capitals. The Bruins’ just-ended run of 1821 consecutive games without a five-goal first period is the third-longest such streak in NHL history, but until Saturday it was only the second-longest current streak of its kind. The Florida Panthers have never scored more than four first-period goals in any of their 1860 regular-season games since they entered the NHL in 1993. The Stars hold the NHL “record” with a 2158-game streak from December 1988 to January 2017 (spanning the franchise’s move from Minnesota to Dallas).

Bergeron scores a sombrero

Patrice Bergeron scored four goals in the Bruins’ 7–1 win over the Hurricanes, including three in a row spanning the first and second periods. He’s the first Bruins player to tally four goals in a game since Dave Andreychuk on Oct. 28, 1999 versus Tampa Bay, and the first Boston player with a four-goal game that included a run of at least three consecutive goals since Adam Oates on Dec. 14, 1995 against Florida. Before Bergeron, the last four-goal game by an NHL player to include a three-goal “natural” hat trick was by Patrick Marleau for San Jose versus Colorado on Jan. 23, 2017.

Giroux reaches 50-point plateau

Claude Giroux tallied one goal and two assists for the Flyers as they concluded the first half of their 2017–18 schedule (i.e., 41 games) with a 6–3 win against the Blues. Giroux leads the Flyers with 51 points this season (14 goals, 37 assists). He’s the first Philadelphia player to register at least 50 points in the team’s first 41 games of a season since Peter Forsberg in 2005–06 (56 points). This is the seventh time that Giroux has scored 50 points or more in one season for the Flyers. The only players with more 50-point seasons for the Flyers than Giroux are Bobby Clarke (14), Bill Barber (12), Brian Propp (10), Rick MacLeish (8) and Eric Lindros (8).

Lundqvist remains busy

Henrik Lundqvist made 38 saves in his 2–1 shootout victory against the Coyotes on Saturday. Lundqvist has faced 30 or more shots on goal in 24 of his 35 games this season (he’s 13–7–4 when he does) and in each of his last ten games (5–3–2). “King Henrik” is the first NHL goaltender to face at least 30 shots on goal in each of ten consecutive games this season. The only NHL goaltenders with double-digit streaks of 30-shot games last season were Ryan Miller (11 games with Vancouver) and Robin Lehner (10 games with Buffalo).

Radulov, Klingberg star for Dallas

Alexander Radulov scored one goal and assisted on two in the Stars’ 5–1 win over the Oilers, after doing the same in their victory against the Devils on Thursday. He’s the first Dallas player to produce at least three points in consecutive team games in one season since Jamie Benn did so in each of the Stars’ final three games of the 2014–15 season.

John Klingberg also tallied a goal and two assists in Saturday’s game in Dallas. Klingberg has recorded at least one assist in each of his team’s last nine home games. That’s the longest home-game assist streak in one season by a defenseman in Stars franchise history, and the longest by a defenseman on any NHL team since Niklas Kronwall had a nine-game assist streak on home ice for the Red Wings in January/February 2009.

Boeser extends road goal-scoring streak

Brock Boeser scored the first goal in the Vancouver Canucks’ shootout loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto. Boeser has scored at least one goal in each of the Canucks’ last five road games. It’s the longest goal-scoring streak in road games by a rookie in Canucks history – no other Vancouver rookie had a streak longer than three games – and the longest road goal streak in one season by any Canucks player since Daniel Sedin’s five-game streak in October/November 2010.

Stone scores in another Ottawa win

Mark Stone scored the winning goal and also tallied two assists in the Senators’ 6–3 win against the Lightning. Stone did not register a point in Ottawa’s first win this season (Oct. 10 at Vancouver) but he has recorded at least one point in each of the team’s 13 wins since then. This is the longest single-season point streak in team wins by an Ottawa player since Bobby Ryan’s 15-game streak in 2013–14 (Oct. 17–Dec. 30). Stone’s streak is the third-longest of its kind in the NHL this season, behind a 16-game streak by Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos (Oct. 6–Nov. 22) and one of 15 games by Stamkos’ teammate, Nikita Kucherov (Oct. 6–Nov. 16).

Rantanen notches both kinds of points

Mikko Rantanen scored one goal and assisted on two as the Avalanche extended its winning streak to five games with a 7–2 victory against the Wild. Rantanen has tallied at least one goal and one assist in each of the Avs’ last three games. Since 2009–10, the only other Colorado player to produce a streak of three consecutive team games with a minimum of one goal and one assist was Matt Duchene in 2015 (Nov. 10–14).