Elias Says: Jan. 15, 2017

America, meet Dion Lewis

• Dion Lewis scored touchdowns through each of the NFL's "three Rs" -- rushing, receiving and on a return -- as the Patriots dispatched the Texans, 34-16. Lewis became the first player in NFL history to score touchdowns by rushing, receiving and on a return in the same postseason game. The return was a 98-yard kickoff return near the end of the first quarter, which was the first kickoff-return touchdown for the Patriots in any of their 49 postseason games. He also set an NFL record for the longest touchdown play in the first quarter of a player's first postseason game; he broke the mark of 97 yards on a kickoff return by the Giants' Ron Dixon against the Eagles in the 2000 postseason. (Lewis had returned only two kickoffs during the 2016 regular season.)

Wait, there's more. Lewis played seven games for the Patriots this season, in which he did not score a touchdown. Only one other player has scored as many as three touchdowns in a postseason game after he had not scored any touchdowns in the preceding regular season. The Redskins' Alvin Garrett scored three touchdowns in a first-round game against the Lions in the 1982 postseason following a strike-shortened nine-game regular season in which he did not score.

Brady has his ups and downs

Tom Brady passed for 287 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ victory, in an uneven performance that also included two interceptions and a postseason-career-low completion rate of 47.4 percent. It was only the second of Brady’s 32 postseason games in which he completed fewer than half of his passes while throwing multiple interceptions – but it was also the second in a row. Brady’s other game like that was last year’s AFC Championship Game, in which he completed 48.2 percent of his passes and threw a pair of interceptions in a 20-18 loss at Denver.

Ryan ties postseason record as Falcons advance

Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes and finished with a passer rating of 125.7 as the Falcons thumped the Seahawks, 36-20. It was the third consecutive postseason game in which Ryan threw three touchdown passes, tying an NFL record. (Ryan's two other three-touchdown-pass games came four years ago, the last time that Atlanta was in the playoffs.) Five other players have thrown at least three touchdown passes in each of three consecutive postseason games: Bernie Kosar, Kurt Warner, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco and Tom Brady.

We mention his passer rating because Ryan concluded the regular season by producing a passer rating of 120-or-higher in each of the Falcons’ last four regular-season games. No other player in NFL history had earned ratings of 120-or-higher in each of his team’s last four games of a season.

Game starts with dueling TD drives

• The Seahawks opened their game at Atlanta by taking the opening kickoff and scoring a touchdown on a 14-play drive; the Falcons then responded with a touchdown on a 13-play drive. It marked the first time in well over 20 years that an NFL postseason game has started with the teams trading touchdowns on drives of 10-plus plays. The last such instance came on Dec. 31, 1994, in a game between the Chiefs and the Dolphins — Joe Montana against Dan Marino! In that game, the Chiefs took the opening kickoff and produced a touchdown on the 11th play; then Miami got the ball and scored a touchdown on its 10th play. The Dolphins went on to win, 27-17, in what was Montana’s final game in the NFL.

Jordan’s double-20 helps Clippers top Lakers

DeAndre Jordan led all players in points (24) and rebounds (21) in the Clippers’ 113–97 win over the Lakers. Jordan’s was the first 20–20 game in the Clippers-Lakers series—that’s in any combination of points, rebounds, and assists—since 2004, when Eldon Brand scored 35 points and added 20 boards for the Clippers, who nonetheless lost the game. The last Lakers player with a 20–20 game against their LA rivals was Shaquille O’Neal, when he scored 61 points on his 28th birthday (March 6, 2000).

Gortat takes advantage of Embiid’s absence

• With Joel Embiid being rested on the second night of back-to-back games, Wizards center Marcin Gortat posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds in just 23 minutes as Washington defeated the 76ers, 109–93. The Wizards outscored the Sixers, 64–39, during Gortat’s time on the court. Only one opposing center has started against Embiid and managed that large a plus-minus this season: Kart-Anthony Towns on November 17 (+33).

Orlando’s near-historic first period isn’t enough

• The Jazz withstood a ferocious first period by Orlando, then survived a back-and-forth fourth quarter to defeat the Magic, 114–107. Orlando outscored Utah, 42-29, in the opening period. That was the second-highest point total against the Jazz in their 43 seasons in the NBA. The record for first-quarter points against the Jazz is 45, set by Denver on February 15, 1982.

That Nuggets team was the highest-scoring club in NBA history, averaging 126.5 points per game with three big scorers: Alex English (25.4 points per game), Dan Issel (22.9), and Kiki Vandeweghe (21.5).

Suns stage big a comeback south of the border

• The Suns overcame an 83–72 deficit late in the third quarter to post a 108–105 victory over the Spurs at Mexico City Arena. It was the first time in the five NBA games played in Mexico that a team rallied to victory after trailing by 10 or more points.

Devin Booker scored 39 points in Phoenix’ win. That was the highest single-game total by a Suns player against the Spurs in nearly seven years—since Amare Stoudemire poured in 41 points against Tim Duncan and his teammates on February 28, 2010 at San Antonio.

Wade finds a way despite ongoing shooting problems

Dwyane Wade scored 22 points but struggled with his shooting again as the Bulls defeated the Pelicans, 107–99. Wade shot 9-for-24 from the field. It was the first time he missed as many as 15 field-goal attempts this season, something he did only once in his final season with Miami, and it was his ninth consecutive game shooting below 50 percent. Wade has shot 39 percent from the field over those nine games.

Marchand’s 500th game is one for the ages

Brad Marchand, playing in the 500th game of his NHL career, produced five points in a game for the second time this season (and the third time in his NHL career) when he scored two goals and assisted on three in the Bruins’ 6–3 win over the Flyers. The only other players in the NHL’s 100-year history who scored at least five points in their 500th NHL game were Bryan Trottier (Jan. 7, 1982: three goals, two assists) and Wayne Gretzky (Dec. 7, 1985: one goal, four assists).

Marchand, who produced two goals and three assists in Boston’s opening-night win at Columbus (October 13), is only the third Boston player in the last 40 years to score at least five points in a game twice in one season. The others: Adam Oates in 1993–94 and Jason Allison in 1997–98.

A Bruins lifer hits a milestone

David Krejci reached the 500-point mark in the NHL when he scored the second-period goal that gave the Bruins a lead they never relinquished in their win over the Flyers. Krejci has spent his entire NHL career with the Bruins after they had chosen him in the second round of the 2004 draft. He is only the fourth player taken by the Bruins in the annual June draft to score 500 or more points for the team. The others: Ray Bourque (1506), Patrice Bergeron (636, including the one from his goal in Saturday’s game), and Terry O’Reilly (606).

Jagr scores the first game-winner of his 23rd season in the NHL

Jaromir Jagr scored his first game-winning goal of the season in the Panthers’ 4–3 victory against the Blue Jackets. Jagr has scored at least one game-winner in each of the 23 seasons he has played in the NHL. The only other players in NHL history who produced at least one game-winning goal in each of 23 or more different seasons were Mark Messier (25), Gordie Howe (24), Dave Andreychuk (23), and Ron Francis (23).

Patch hits the 20-goal mark for the fifth time

Max Pacioretty scored his 20th goal of the season in the Canadiens’ 5–4 win against the Rangers. Pacioretty, a Connecticut native, has now reached the 20-goal mark five times in a nine-season NHL career spent entirely with Montreal. Only two other active U.S.-born players have recorded at least five 20-goal seasons for a Canadian-based NHL team: Ryan Kesler (six times for Vancouver) and Phil Kessel (six for Toronto). Kesler (Anaheim) and Kessel (Pittsburgh) are now both playing for U.S. clubs.

A wild Wild win

• Jason Zucker’s goal with 6:45 remaining in the third period snapped a 4–4 tie and proved decisive for the Wild in its 5–4 win in Dallas. Minnesota seemingly had the game under control when it jumped to a 4–0 lead by the 12:45 mark of the first period but the Stars rallied to tie the game just over two minutes before Zucker’s goal regained the lead for the Wild. This was the first game in Wild franchise history in which it squandered a four-goal lead. Two other NHL teams have been pegged back after holding a four-goal advantage in a game this season: the Blackhawks in their 7–4 win versus the Flyers on October 18, and the Maple Leafs in their 5–4 overtime loss at Winnipeg the next night (October 19).

Red Wings win big against the champs

Frans Nielsen, Andreas Athanasiou, Mike Green, and Henrik Zetterberg scored the four goals for the Red Wings that turned a 3–2 deficit into a 6–3 victory over the Penguins at Joe Louis Arena. It marked only the third time in the last 22 years that the Red Wings won a game against a defending Stanley Cup champion by a three-goal margin. Their two other such wins since 1995 were 5–2 victories on home ice against the Devils in January 2004 and the Kings in October 2014. Jared Coreau, who made 28 saves to earn the victory for Detroit, became the first rookie goaltender to win a game for the Red Wings against a current Cup-holding team (by any margin) since Jimmy Howard beat Pittsburgh on March 22, 2010.

Carter wins another for Kings

Jeff Carter scored his 23rd goal of the season in overtime to cap the Kings’ 3-2 comeback win over the visiting Jets. It was Carter’s eighth game-winning goal of the season and his third in overtime. The former total leads the NHL and the latter ties Marian Hossa for the league lead.

Hurricanes wreck the Islanders

Brock McGinn racked up a goal and three assists, and his Carolina teammates Jordan Staal, Lee Stempniak, and Elias Lindholm each produced a goal and two assists as the Hurricanes trimmed the Islanders, 7–4. The only other game in franchise history in which the Whalers or Hurricanes had four players produce at least one goal and two assists was Hartford’s 7–4 win against the Canucks on March 29, 1987. Ron Francis contributed two goals and two assists for the Whalers in that game, while teammates Kevin Dineen, Dean Evason and Sylvain Turgeon each had one goal and two assists.

A great back-to-back performance by Tavares

John Tavares scored two goals for the Islanders in their loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday, after scoring three times in their win over the Panthers on Friday. This was the first time that an Islanders player scored five goals over a two-game span in one season since Matt Moulson did so on Dec. 3–6, 2011 (with a four-goal game at Dallas and one goal versus the Lightning). This is the second time that Tavares has scored five goals over a two-game stretch in the NHL, having previously done it on Oct. 13–15, 2011.

A new Leaf makes a successful debut

Curtis McElhinney, claimed on waivers earlier this week, made his debut for the Maple Leafs in a 4–2 win at Ottawa in which he made 35 saves and was named the game’s first star. McElhinney has won only 46 games in his nine seasons in the NHL but he has now earned victories for six different teams: the Flames, Ducks, Senators, Coyotes, Blue Jackets, and Leafs. That ties Chad Johnson for the high among active NHL goaltenders. Johnson has won games for the Rangers, Coyotes, Bruins, Islanders, Sabres, and Flames during his seven-year NHL career.

Rinne 4-for-4 against the Avs this season

Pekka Rinne earned his fourth win in four games versus the Avalanche this season in Nashville’s 3–2 victory at Denver. The only other NHL goaltender with four wins against one team this season is the Bruins’ Tuukka Rask, who has four victories against both Buffalo and Florida. Rinne has a 19–7–2 record versus Colorado; he ranks second in wins against the Avs among active NHL goaltenders, behind Roberto Luongo (22–17–5).

Just like the last time for Blues in San Jose

Carter Hutton blanked the Sharks on their home ice as the Blues came away the 4-0 winners on Saturday night. It marked the Blues’ second consecutive trip to San Jose that resulted in a shutout victory; last March 22, Brian Elliott turned away 37 shots on goal and Robby Fabbri scored the game’s only goal in the Blues’ 1-0 victory. The last team to blank the Sharks in consecutive trips to San Jose was the Sabres in 2011 and 2012.