NFC South: Elias Sports Bureau

Travel could work against Seahawks

January, 10, 2013
The Georgia Dome crowd might not be the only home-field advantage the Atlanta Falcons have this weekend.

They also could be helped by the fact the Seattle Seahawks have to make a cross-country trip after doing the same thing last week. The Seahawks won against the Washington Redskins, which puts them in some rare company.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Seahawks will become only the fifth West Coast team to play consecutive playoff games in the Eastern time zone.

The 2007 Chargers won at Indianapolis before losing at New England. The 1982 Chargers won at Pittsburgh, but lost at Miami. The 1981 San Diego team won at Miami, but lost in Cincinnati.

The only West Coast team to win consecutive games in the Eastern time zone was the 1989 Los Angeles Rams, who won on the road against the Eagles and Giants.

In the past, there have been some regular-season situations where West Coast teams have stayed on the East coast when facing back-to-back games. But the Seahawks elected to fly back to Seattle on Sunday night and have conducted business as usual at their facility this week.
With the help of ESPN Stats & Information, Elias Sports Bureau and the Tampa Bay media relations staff, it’s time for some statistical superlatives on the Buccaneers 42-32 victory against Oakland on Sunday.
  • Rookie running back Doug Martin rushed for 251 yards and four touchdowns. The 251 rushing yards are tied for third-most by a rookie in NFL history. Oh yeah, we should add that Martin had 265 rushing yards before losing 14 yards on three carries on the game’s final drive. Adrian Peterson (296 yards in a 2007 game) and DeMarco Murray (253 yards in a game last year) are the only rookies to rush for more yards in a game than Martin.
  • Martin’s rushing total also set a franchise record (James Wilder’s 219 yards in a 1983 game were the previous record) and his four rushing touchdowns also set a new team standard.
  • Martin became the first player in NFL history with three rushing touchdowns of 45 or more yards in a game.
  • Martin and Mike Anderson (in 2000) are the only players ever to rush for 250 yards and four touchdowns in a game.
  • Martin rushed for 268 yards when the Bucs lined up a lead blocker in the backfield, including 215 yards before first contact. He had -17 yards on six carries on which he didn’t have a lead blocker.
  • All totaled, Martin gained 197 of his yards before contact. That’s the second-most yards before contact over the past four seasons. James Harrison had 235 yards before contact in a 2009 game.
  • Josh Freeman passed for 247 yards and two touchdowns. He’s only the third quarterback in franchise history to throw for a touchdown pass in each of the first eight games of the season. Brad Johnson in 2003 and Doug Williams in 1979 were the other two.
  • Over the last four games, Freeman has thrown for 11 touchdowns and one interception. I’m sensing a big contract extension after the season.
  • Freeman had a 108.6 NFL passer rating and now has recorded four straight games with a passer rating over 100.
  • Tampa Bay’s 515 yards from scrimmage ranks second on the team’s all-time list. The record is 573 in a 1980 game against Minnesota.
  • The Bucs now have eight plays with 60 yards or more this season. That’s a franchise record and they’ve only played eight games.
  • The victory was the first time the Bucs ever have defeated the Raiders on the road. (They’re now 1-5 when visiting the Raiders).
  • Rookie linebacker Lavonte David continues to excel. He had two tackles for losses to bring his season total to a team-leading 11. He also posted a career-high 16 tackles.

Final Word: NFC South

December, 23, 2011
NFC Final Word: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

Five nuggets of knowledge about Week 16:

[+] EnlargeMatt Ryan
Bob Donnan/US PresswireMatt Ryan has thrown seven touchdown passes and zero interceptions in the Falcons' past two games.
Ryan's on fire: The Falcons appear to be getting hot at the right time. In the past six quarters, against the Panthers and Jaguars, Atlanta has outscored opponents 65-14. Quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown seven touchdown passes and zero interceptions in those two games. Ryan also is playing for a spot in the record book. He is 42-18 in his career. Joe Flacco, who also entered the league in the 2008 draft, is 42-20. Each already has won more starts in his first four seasons than any quarterback since the Super Bowl era started in1966.

Monday Night Fever: The New Orleans Saints have all sorts of streaks going. They’ve clinched a playoff berth for the third straight season. They’ve won at least 11 games in each of the past three seasons. They’re on a six-game winning streak. That ties them with the Patriots for the longest active winning streak in the NFL. Finally, the Saints have the NFL’s longest active winning streak in “Monday Night Football’’ games. They’ve won six straight and haven’t lost since a 2008 game against Minnesota.

The “other’’ record: Understandably, most of the talk surrounding the Saints has to do with Drew Brees’ pursuit of Dan Marino’s record for passing yards in a season. But another member of the Saints is chasing history. That’s second-year tight end Jimmy Graham. He’s on pace for 99 catches and 1,338 receiving yards. The NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end is 1,290, set by San Diego’s Kellen Winslow in 1980. Graham also has had at least five catches in six straight games.

Making history: Even in a season that hasn’t been filled with wins, the Carolina Panthers have a chance to make some very positive history. Running back Jonathan Stewart needs to gain just 6 rushing yards to reach 600 for the season. Fellow running back DeAngelo Williams already has 717 yards and quarterback Cam Newton has 609 yards. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last two teams to have three 600-yard rushers in a season were the 2006 Falcons (Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn and Jerious Norwood) and the 1978 Patriots (Sam Cunningham, Horace Ivory and Andy Johnson).

Losing at historic rate: Some unflattering notes on Tampa Bay’s eight-game losing streak: It’s the longest active streak in the NFL and the first time the Bucs have lost eight straight in a season since 1987. If the Bucs lose to the Panthers and make it nine straight, it will set off some more statistical bells. The Bucs haven’t lost nine straight in a season since starting 0-9 in 1985.

Drew Brees by the numbers

December, 19, 2011
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees threw for 412 yards and five touchdowns in Sunday’s victory against Minnesota.

Those numbers come with all sorts of implications and significance, so let’s take a look.
  • First off, Brees now has 4,780 passing yards and needs only 305 in the final two games to break Dan Marino’s single-season record for passing yards (5,084 in 1984).
  • Brees’ performance Sunday was historic in itself. Brees became the first player ever to pass for 400 yards and five touchdowns while compiling a completion percentage of at least 80, according to Elias Sports Bureau. He’s also the sixth player in NFL history to post 400 passing yards, five touchdown passes and no interceptions in a game.
  • It also was Brees’ 11th game with at least 300 passing yards this season and that’s an NFL record.
  • It was Brees’ sixth career game with five passing touchdowns, which ties Marino and Peyton Manning for the all-time record.
  • Brees isn’t the only quarterback with a shot to eclipse Marino’s record. Three others at least have a mathematical chance. New England’s Tom Brady would need to average 246 yards over the final two games to pass Marino. Eli Manning needs to average 361.5 yards and Aaron Rodgers needs to average 361.5.
  • Brees now has at least one touchdown pass in 41 straight games. That’s the second-longest streak in history. Johnny Unitas set the record (47).
  • Brees now has 37 touchdown passes on the season. That’s a new franchise record. Brees had thrown for 34 touchdown passes in two other seasons.

Outrageous numbers from Bucs' loss

December, 18, 2011
Let’s take a look at some interesting, and very unflattering numbers, from Tampa Bay’s 31-15 loss to Dallas on Saturday night.
  • The Bucs fell behind 28-0 in the first half after allowing 41 unanswered points to Jacksonville last week. The 69 consecutive points allowed are the second-highest total in franchise history. The worst was in 1976 when the Bucs allowed 79 straight points in a three-game span, according to Elias Sports Bureau. The last NFL team to give up more than 69 consecutive points was the Titans, who allowed 76 in 2009.
  • After a slow start, receiver Mike Williams had seemed to step up his production in the previous three games. That ended Saturday night. Williams did not catch a pass. He wasn’t even targeted. Yeah, that’s just what you want out of your supposed No. 1 receiver.
  • Quarterback Josh Freeman threw 16 of his 27 passes fewer than 5 yards downfield, according to ESPN Stats & Information and averaged just 6.1 air yards per throw overall. On passes of 11 or more yards downfield, Freeman didn’t complete any of the six he attempted.
  • Speaking of Freeman, let’s compare this year’s stats to last season’s. This year, Freeman has 13 touchdowns, 18 interceptions, averages 6.5 yards per attempt and has 220 rushing yards. In last year’s 10-6 season, Freeman had 25 touchdowns, six interceptions, averaged 7.28 yards per attempt and had 364 rushing yards.

Saints need 41 points to set record

October, 26, 2011
The New Orleans Saints scored 62 points (tied for the most since the NFL-AFL merger) against the Indianapolis Colts. With the Saints playing the winless St. Louis Rams on Sunday, there’s a very logical question on the horizon.

What’s the NFL record (since the merger) for points scored in a two-game span?

I went out and got the answer, courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau. Before I reveal, I’ll just say, with Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense, I think the Saints have a decent chance to make history. And they’ve got a chance to make it against the team that set it.

Yep, back when the Rams were still “The Greatest Show on Turf’’, they scored a combined 102 points in consecutive games in the 2000 season. This year’s Rams have scored 56 points -- all season.

So, the Saints can tie the record if they score 40 points and break it if they score 41 or more.

The next five best point totals in consecutive games came from the 2002 Raiders (101), the 2004 Chiefs (101), the 2007 Patriots (101), the 2000 Rams (98) and the 2002 Chiefs (98).

More history for the NFC South

September, 13, 2011
We told you Monday it was an historic week in the NFC South as all four teams lost in the same week for only the third time since the division came into existence in 2002.

The NFC South also played a big role in making history in another area. There were five games in which both quarterbacks threw for 300 yards or more and three of them involved NFC South quarterbacks.

New Orleans' Drew Brees combined with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan joined Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Carolina’s Cam Newton combined with Arizona’s Kevin Kolb to each throw for 300 yards or more. Mark Sanchez and Tony Romo each did it in the game between the Jets and Cowboys and New England’s Tom Brady and Miami’s Chad Henne each did it on Monday night.

That’s the most games with two 300-yard passers in one week in NFL history, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Prior to that, there had been only two weeks in NFL history in which four games featured a pair of 300-yard passers. One of those weeks came last season and the other was in 1984.
I’m not trying to curb the enthusiasm in the Carolinas after the Panthers used the No. 1 overall pick in the draft on quarterback Cam Newton. It’s a move with huge upside and we’ll find out a few years down the road if it was indeed the right move.

However, there’s an discouraging statistic, courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau, that suggests Newton and coach Ron Rivera face an uphill battle. Since 1990, seven rookie head coaches have had the No. 1 overall pick and used it on a quarterback.

None of them has won a postseason game. Think Mike Nolan and Alex Smith in San Francisco, Dom Capers and David Carr in Houston, Marvin Lewis and Carson Palmer in Cincinnati, Chris Palmer and Tim Couch in Cleveland, Lane Kiffin and JaMarcus Russell in Oakland, Jim Schwartz and Matthew Stafford in Detroit and Steve Spagnuolo and Sam Bradford in St. Louis.

There seems to be hope for Stafford and Bradford to become successful quarterbacks. Carson Palmer had some good times in Cincinnati, but wants out of there and may get his wish. Other than that, all of the guys on the above list have flopped.

If you want to find a rookie head coach who used the No. 1 overall pick on a quarterback, you have to go all the way back to Jimmy Johnson. Back in 1989, he took Troy Aikman with the first pick, a move that helped the Cowboys become a dynasty for much of the 1990s.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Great stat from Elias Sports Bureau by way of ESPN Stats & Information.

Since it's looking like the Panthers will take Cam Newton with the first pick in tonight’s draft, Jimmy Clausen has a chance to join some pretty unflattering company. The Panthers used a second-round pick on Clausen last year.

Since 1970, only two teams have drafted a quarterback within the top 50 picks in back-to-back drafts. Both came in 1982 and 1983. In 1982, the Bills drafted Matt Kofler at No. 48 overall. In 1983, they followed by taking Jim Kelly at No. 14. Kelly went to the United States Football league before joining the Bills in 1986.

In 1982, the Baltimore Colts drafted Art Schlichter at No. 4. In 1983, they took John Elway at No. 1. Elway never played for the Colts and eventually was traded to Denver.

But the moral of this story is that you don’t want to be the guy taken the year before your team turns around and uses a higher pick on a quarterback. Heck, the true moral of the story is you don’t want to be Schlichter or Kofler.

Looks like Clausen is about to join that club.

Forget 'Ice,' it's Matty 'Elite' Ryan

December, 20, 2010
Anytime someone calls Atlanta’s Matt Ryan an elite quarterback, it seems to spark debate. So feel free to hit the comments section below or the mailbag.

I’m not sure what the exact definition of an elite quarterback is. But if you simply look at the following numbers (from ESPN Stats & Information and Elias Sports Bureau), I think you have to come to the conclusion that Ryan is elite. At very least he’s walking in elite company.

As we first pointed out last week, Ryan has been winning at an incredible pace in his first three seasons in the league. After Sunday’s victory in Seattle, Ryan’s career record as a starter is 32-12. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, only one quarterback has won more games in his first three seasons. The guy’s name is Dan Marino.

For the record, Marino went 33-10 in his first three seasons. That means Ryan can tie Marino’s victory total with a win against New Orleans on Dec. 27. If he does that, Ryan can break the record with a victory against Carolina in the regular-season finale.

Speaking of Ryan and elite names, he threw three touchdown passes Sunday to bring his career total to 63. That ties him for fourth place in NFL history (going back even before the merger), for touchdown passes in the first three years of a career. The guy he's now tied with? Joe Namath. The only quarterbacks with more touchdown passes in their first three seasons are Marino (98), Peyton Manning (85) and Jeff Garcia (74). All right, Garcia might not quite fit with the other names. But remember, he was taking over for Steve Young and a San Francisco offensive machine that still was mostly in place.

One other stat on Ryan: He now has won nine consecutive starts in December and January, and the Falcons are 9-1 overall in games Ryan has started in December and January during his career.

Matt Ryan already in elite company

December, 15, 2010
With three games left (this week at Seattle, followed by home games with New Orleans and Tampa Bay) Atlanta's Matt Ryan already is in some very elite company and he has an opportunity to be even better.

Since joining the league in 2008, Ryan has 31 wins as a starting quarterback. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the only quarterback since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger with more wins as a starter in his first three seasons is Hall of Famer Dan Marino, who started his career in 1983.

Ryan already is second on this list and he missed two starts with a toe injury last year. His draft classmate, Baltimore's Joe Flacco, currently is tied for third on the list with 29 victories. Flacco is tied with Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger, who began his career in 2004.

Falcons one game from spot in history

December, 1, 2010
This four-game streak without a turnover by the Atlanta Falcons had me thinking earlier today. I knew it was significant, but I wanted some perspective, so I reached out out to my friends at ESPN Stats & Information and they also enlisted some help from Elias Sports Bureau.

I already knew this was a franchise record for Atlanta, but it turns out this streak is a lot more significant than I ever imagined. The Falcons have a chance to make history Sunday when they play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They already are part of a very elite crew and they can separate themselves from all the rest if they go through the Tampa Bay game without a turnover.

The research I got says that the Falcons are one of 12 teams to go four games without a turnover since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. No team has gone more than four straight games without a turnover in that time frame.

The other 11 teams to go four games without a turnover were the Jets (earlier this season), the Carolina Panthers (late last season), the 2005 Broncos, the 2001 Jets, the 2001 Seahawks, the 1999 Jaguars, the 1998 Bengals, the 1995 Rams, the 1994 Lions, the 1980 Vikings and the 1971 Dolphins.

Superlatives on the Buccaneers

November, 1, 2010
With some help from ESPN Stats & Information, Elias Sports Bureau and the Tampa Bay media relations office, here are some superlatives on the Buccaneers after Sunday’s win against Arizona.
  • The Bucs are 3-0 on the road for the first time since 2008.
  • Rookie running back LeGarrette Blount ran for a career-high 120 yards. He also scored two touchdowns to become the first Tampa Bay rookie to rush for two touchdowns in a game since Cadillac Williams in 2005.
  • Aqib Talib had two interceptions to give him five for the season. That makes him the first player in team history to have at least four interceptions in three straight seasons since Donnie Abraham did it from 1999 through 2001.
  • Talib and linebacker Geno Hayes each returned interceptions for touchdowns. That gives the Bucs 35 defensive touchdowns since 2000. Only Green Bay and Tennessee, which each have 36, have scored more defensive touchdowns in that span.
  • Rookie receiver Mike Williams had a career-high 105 receiving yards. It marked the first time a Tampa Bay receiver went over 100 yards since Antonio Bryant on Dec. 6, 2009. Williams also had a touchdown catch, giving him four for the season. The only Tampa Bay rookie receivers to have more touchdown catches in a season were Michael Clayton (seven) in 2004 and Kevin House (five) in 1980.
  • In only 16 career games, quarterback Josh Freeman now has led six fourth-quarter comebacks. In those victories, Freeman had completed 39 of 57 passes for five touchdowns and no interceptions.

Josh Freeman joins strange stat club

September, 20, 2010
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – As I sit in the Charlotte Douglas Airport getting ready to head to NFC South Blog headquarters, I just spotted a great note in my e-mail.

It’s courtesy of the folks at ESPN Stats & Information and the Elias Sports Bureau.

We all know Josh Freeman and the Buccaneers beat the Carolina Panthers, 20-7, on Sunday. The last time Freeman faced the Panthers (in a loss last season) he threw five interceptions.

It turns out throwing five interceptions against a team turns out to be a charm the next time that quarterback faces that opponent. It turns out Freeman’s victory was the eighth consecutive win by a quarterback making his next start against a team that picked him off at least five times in the previous meeting.

This bizarre streak goes back to 2005.