September 24, 2012
It was an untamable Week Three in the National Football League and one perhaps best exemplified by Sunday’s contest between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens, a game featuring a full spectrum of emotion, from the laughable (New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichik grabbing a replacement official after his team’s 31-30 loss only to have the official ignore his grasp and continue running off field) to the downright heartfelt and inspirational (Ravens’ wideout Torrey Smith going for 127 yards and two touchdowns on six receptions less than 24 hours after his younger brother, Tevin Jones, died in a motorcycle accident).
But I digress …
Time to move forward and take a look at some the numbers and figures behind Week Three’s match ups:
- First, addressing the aforementioned comments regarding replacement officials and the Patriots / Ravens game: Some 24 penalties were accepted in Sunday’s matchup between the two teams, with 13 resulting in first downs – an NFL record. (Previous record of 12 came in a game between the Ravens and Lions back in October 2005.)
- Those watching quarterback Joe Flacco’s performance against the Patriots may have noticed his using play action a great deal more than normal to set up deep throws downfield. ESPN.com points out that Baltimore’s quarterback was 13-of-19 for 204 yards with two touchdowns and an interception off play fakes, a number of passes thrown off play action greater than Flacco attempted in the first two weeks of the regular season combined.
- On to the Chicago Bears / St. Louis Rams game: A pretty impressive defensive stat for the Bears coming out of Sunday’s 23-6 win at Soldier Field? How about the Chicago Bears rushing four or less defenders on 86 percent of St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford’s throws – a strategy that ended up paying huge dividends, with the Bears sacking Bradford five times and intercepting him twice.
- For the Buffalo Bills: Before leaving Sunday’s game against the Cleveland Browns with an injured shoulder, Buffalo tailback C.J. Spiller became the first player since Thomas Jones in 2004 to reach 300 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards in a NFL team’s first three regular season games. And with a 32-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter of the 24-14 victory for the Bills, Spiller also earned a score in his sixth consecutive game, the longest streak for a Buffalo player since Thurman Thomas reached six back in 1990.
- Which NFL foe Dallas has played at least 10 times in the past has fared the worst against the Cowboys? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who now carry a 3-11 record when facing off against the Lone Star State franchise.
- Tennessee had one of the more memorable outings in NFL history Sunday, with the Titans scoring a passing touchdown, kickoff return touchdown, punt return touchdown and fumble return for a score in a 44-41 win over the Detroit Lions. The only other NFL teams to ever achieve that feat? The Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams back in 2002.
- Thanks to a 59-yard scamper for a touchdown in the third quarter of Sunday’s 22-17 win over Indianapolis, tailback Maurice Jones-Drew now owns the record for most rushing touchdowns (63) in the history of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Fred Taylor was the previous record holder with 62.
- Miami punter Brandon Fields continues to impress, averaging 58.8 yards per kick on four punts in Sunday’s loss to the New York Jets.
- ESPN.com provides this stat on the efficiency of second-year quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings, Christian Ponder, in Sunday’s upset of the San Francisco: Ponder completed 7-of-11 passes on third or fourth downs against the 49ers, with all seven completions going for either a first down or a touchdown. That provided Minnesota’s starter under center with a career-high quarterback rating of 89.9 in the 24-13 win.
- Don’t overlook the role of Minnesota’s tailbacks in Ponder looking as good as he did in Sunday’s victory; combined, the Vikings backfield attempted 33 rushes against San Francisco, the most by the team since Week 13 of 2010. That, as ESPN.com points out, help set Ponder up for success off play-action, where he finished 9-of-13 with a touchdown against San Francisco.
- With his first interception since Week 12 of last season coming against the Vikings, San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith saw a team record of 249 consecutive regular-season pass completions without a pick come to an end on Sunday.
- After losing their third-straight game in as many weeks Sunday, the New Orleans Saints became just the eighth team in NFL history to start the regular season 0-3 after winning 13 or more games the previous year.
- New Orleans’ loss to Kansas City overshadowed the fact that Saints quarterback Drew Brees has now thrown a touchdown pass in 46 straight regular season games – just one behind the all-time record of 47 currently held by Johnny Unitas.
- In an impressive win over the Washington Redskins, Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton ended up throwing for as many yards on pass of 10 yards or greater (8-of-10 for 204 yards) as he had in the first two weeks of the 2012 regular season combined (8-of-19 for 204 yards).
- Making history out in Phoenix Sunday was Arizona Cardinals wideout Larry Fitzgerald, who at 29 years and 23 days old, became the youngest player in the NFL ever to reach 700 career receptions. The next closet player to Fitzgerald? Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten at 30 years and 133 days old.
- Not nearly as impressive an accomplishment, but the Cardinals defense has now posted at least two sacks in each of their last nine games – the longest current streak in the NFL.
- Turnovers continue to plague the Philadelphia Eagles, who with three in the first half of Sunday’s loss at Arizona, now have a total of 12 for the season. The last time the franchise accumulated 12 in the span of the first three games it played? 1977 – a season in which the Eagles finished just 5-9.
- The key to victory for Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons? Ryan throwing for at least three touchdowns in a game. Why? Because the Falcons starter under center has now won all 13 career NFL games he’s played in which he’s thrown at least three passing scores in a single contest. He is also one of just five players in NFL history to have never lost a game with three or more TDs.
- Denver may have lost its second-straight game Sunday in a 31-25 defeat to the Houston Texans, but quarterback Peyton Manning ended up setting the NFL record for most 300-yard passing games in a career by going 26-of-52 for 330 yards and two touchdowns.