October 1, 2012
Week Four in the NFL found much of the noise surrounding the nightmare that was replacement officiating quickly dissipating (thankfully), but still providing plenty of others things to talk about, including a 42-point second half explosion by the New England Patriots in the team’s fifth-straight come-from-behind win over the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles moving to 3-1 on the season despite actually being outscored by their opponents so far this season.
Fun assignment for the week – count how many times the Buffalo Bills come up on the negative side of the following discussion of Week Four’s key stats and performances.
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- Here’s a stat I had to read twice in order to make sure my I didn’t need to make an immediate appointment with my optometrist: Can you guess which NFL quarterback has thrown the most red zone interceptions since 2010? Believe it or not, it’s the New York Giants’ Eli Manning with nine.
- The Philadelphia Eagles’ LeSean McCoy must love playing the New York Giants, given that he’s now posted four 100+ yard rushing games in his last five starts against them. Fantasy geeks, pay attention!
- And speaking of the Eagles – just how amazing is it that Philadelphia can boast of a 3-1 record on the season, yet still have been outscored by opponents to the tune of 17 points so far this season! According to ESPN.com, only four teams in the modern era of the NFL have started with a similar record while have a worse point differential.
- Almost any fan of the NFL, whether or not a supporter of the Atlanta Falcons, can agree that one of the league’s best young talents under center is Matt Ryan. Still, did you know that with a 59-yard scoring pass to receiver Roddy White on Sunday, Ryan now holds the record for most game-winning drives since 2008 with 17? For those wondering – yes, that’s better than Peyton Manning with 16 and Drew Brees with 15.
- As good as Ryan is, a tip of the hat also goes to the Carolina Panthers’ Cam Newton, who by throwing two touchdowns and scoring a third on the ground in a loss to the Atlanta Falcons Sunday, is now tied with Steve Grogan (the former quarterback for the New England Patriots, not the infamous former member of Charles Manson’s gang) for most games (10) with a passing and rushing score in the same contest for a player in his first two years with the NFL.
- Unfortunately for Newton, Carolina’s offensive line didn’t make the aforementioned accomplishment an easy one, allowing their quarterback to be put under duress, hit or sacked on 10 of his 30 total dropbacks in Sunday’s game versus Atlanta. That left Newton just 1-of-5 for six yards when throwing under pressure, his second-lowest yardage total in a game in his career.
- Those watching Sunday’s game between Atlanta and Carolina may not have realized it, but with Greg Olsen taking in a 17-yard pass from Newton at the 11:45 mark in the first quarter and putting his team ahead 7-o , it was the first time all season that the Falcons had trailed an opponent – a period spanning 183 minutes and five seconds of playing time.
- Talk about embarrassing: With a 52-28 victory over the Buffalo Bills Sunday, the New England Patriots earned a fifth-straight win against their AFC East foe when trailing at halftime. The latter has now outscored the Bills by a combined total of 128-37 in the second half of those five games, including a franchise record breaking 45-point explosion put in the third and fourth quarters of yesterday’s contest.
- Taking the Good with the Bad: Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick became the first passer in the history of the franchise to throw four touchdowns and our interceptions in the same game. In doing so, he also became just the fourth quarterback in the NFL since 1985 to do so – a list which ironically includes, you guessed it, New England’s Tom Brady, who did the same thing just last year against – wait for it – the Bills.
- Doubling Up: Thanks to the 137 rushing yards of Brandon Bolden and 106 yards by Stevan Ridley, and 129 yards receiving from Wes Welker and 104 yards by tight end Rob Gronkowski, New England for the first time ever Sunday finished with a pair of 100-yard rushers and 100-yard receivers in the same game.
- An interesting fact about the Minnesota Vikings’ Adrian Peterson since returning from last year’s ACL injury – Peterson has gained 94.6 percent of his rushing yards this season by running between the tackles. That figure includes Sunday’s contest against Detroit in which all 21 carries for 102 yards came on straight-ahead runs by Minnesota’s starting tailback.
- Sunday was a huge day for San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, who with 209 yards passing in a win over Kansas City, eclipsed the 25,000-yard career passing mark. That he did so in just his 104th game leaves just six other quarterbacks who have reached that same plateau in a shorter period of time than Rivers.
- You have to love it when a kicker – and a rookie kicker at that! – is the main story line in a win for the St. Louis Rams over the Seattle Seahawks, this as Greg Zuerlein, who last year was playing for Missouri Western, netted four field goals (including club records of 58 and 60 yards) in a 19-13 victory at home. Zuerlein, believe it or not, is now 12-for-12 on the season and is the first place kicker in NFL history to hit a 50-yard and 60-yard attempt in the same contest. Little wonder then that head coach Jeff Fisher told ESPN.com following Sunday’s win, “Right now, our kicker is the MVP of the season. Pretty much, all we’ve got to do is get across the 50-yard line and we’re in his range.”
- The New York Jets’ Mark Sanchez isn’t having an easy time of it in 2012, completing less than 50% of his attempted passes for the third time in four games in Sunday’s shut out loss to the visiting San Francisco 49ers. He is now the second Jets quarterback with that dubious distinction; the other was Dick Wood back in 1963.
- The Houston Texans remain an offensive juggernaut in the NFL, scoring 30 or more points in a single contest for the third time in four games Sunday versus the Tennessee Titans.
- Peyton Manning – 30-of-38 passing for 338 yards and three touchdowns; Willis McGahee – 19 carries for 112 yards and a touchdown; Demaryius Thomas – five catches for 103 yards. Thanks to the play of the three aforementioned players Sunday against the Oakland Raiders, the Denver Broncos earned their first game with a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver since opening day of 2007. (By the way, the last trio to do so? Jay Cutler, Travis Henry and Javon Walker, playing against Buffalo.)
- On Manning’s performance – Manning only missed eight pass attempts in Week Four, just one week after throwing a career-high 26 incompletions versus Houston, and did so by averaging just 4.6 yards per pass thrown – his third-lowest average in a start since the beginning of the 2008 season.
- It’s hard to fathom, but with its 37-6 win over the Raiders, Denver won a game against an AFC West rival at home for the first time since 2007.
- Brian Hartline was an absolute beast for Miami in Sunday’s overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals, catching 12 passes for 253 yards and a touchdown. That, of course, was a good enough performance to break a franchise-record previously held by Chris Chambers, who netted 238 yards on 15 receptions back in December 2005 against the Buffalo Bills.
- Larry Fitzgerald has now caught a pass in 121 consecutive games, tying a franchise record held by Mel Gray and extending the second-longest active streak in the NFL behind Tony Gonzalez.
- Likely common knowledge by now, but with a 20-yard scoring strike to receiver Marques Colston in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees moved into a tie with Johnny Unitas for the NFL record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
- Tranquil Brees: Brees was outstanding throwing the ball both mid- and long range Sunday against Green Bay, completing 6-of-7 passes for 184 yards and a pair of touchdowns on throws of at least 15 yards downfield.
- Meanwhile, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers proved more elusive than usual in Sunday’s win over the Saints, dropping back to pass 42 times, yet never once being sacked (he was forced to scramble on one play). That’s the second-most dropbacks for Rodgers in a single contest without a sack, with a high of 47 coming in Week Three of the 2010 season against the Bears. Not a bad rebound from last week’s contest against the Seahawks in which the Packers’ quarterback was sacked eight times on 24 dropbacks.
- Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III is known for his ability to move the ball down the field with his league, but his dual-threat approach to the game also helps him in throwing the ball, where he’s completed 16-of-21 passes, including 6-of-9 passing Sunday against Tampa Bay, when rushed by five or more defenders. Play action has also become a strong suit for Griffin, who now has completed 34-of-46 such throws (73.9 percent) through his first four starts.