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Patriots post another big win against a first-place team
From Elias: The Patriots defeated the Lions, 34-9, for their third consecutive blowout win over a first-place team. New England's two previous games were victories over Denver (43-21) and Indianapolis (42-20). The Pats became the first team in NFL history to win three straight games by 20 or more points, each against an opponent with a record at least three games above the .500 mark.
Gordon makes a historic return to Browns
From Elias: Josh Gordon, making his first appearance of the season, caught eight passes for 120 yards in the Browns' 26-24 victory at Atlanta. Gordon was the first NFL player ever to gain at least 100 receiving or rushing yards in this late a season debut (Week 12). Honorable mention to Floyd Eddings, a Giants rookie who caught five balls for 148 yards in his NFL debut on Dec. 11, 1982. But that was Week 6 in a season interrupted for two months by an NFL players' strike.
Don't get Peyton upset
From Elias: The Broncos scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to rally for a 39-36 win over the Dolphins. But the story of the game was Peyton Manning, who threw four touchdown passes following last week's loss to St. Louis. That has become de rigueur for Manning and the Broncos. Denver has won its last eight games following a loss, scoring an average of 38.8 points, and Manning has averaged 360 yards and 4.0 TDs, compiling a 117.8 rating in those eight bounce-back wins.
That was the ninth time that Manning has won a game in which his team trailed by at least 10 points in the fourth quarter, extending his NFL record.
Romo dominates the Giants again
From Elias: Tony Romo threw four touchdown passes, including a 13-yard game-winner to Dez Bryant with 61 seconds remaining, in the Cowboys' 31-28 victory over the Giants. It was the fourth time that Romo threw as many as four TD passes in a game against the Giants, twice as many as anyone else in NFL history. The only other QBs with even two games with four TD passes versus the Giants were Don Meredith, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers.
Bryant had never before caught a game-winning touchdown passes in the final 5 minutes of the fourth quarter.
Reigning champs defeat would-be champs
From Elias: Seattle snapped Arizona's six-game winning streak with a 19-3 victory. That was the largest margin by which a defending Super Bowl champion has defeated a team that had won its last six games in that season. There have been 17 such meetings in NFL history. The Super Bowl champion won the last three, but has lost nine of those games.
Huff goes all the way with opening kickoff
From Elias: Josh Huff returned the opening kickoff 107 yards for a touchdown in the Eagles' 43-24 win over the Titans. That was the second-longest TD in NFL history on a return of a game's opening kickoff. Corradelle Patterson scored TDs of 105 and 109 yards on game-opening kickoff returns last season.
In fact, since 2000 there have 10 touchdown returns of 100 yards or longer with the opening kickoff of a game. By comparison, there were none in the last 26 years of the 1900s.
Sanchez hits the 300 mark again
From Elias: Mark Sanchez passed for 307 yards and a touchdown in Philadelphia's victory after throwing for 332 yards against Carolina and 346 at Green Bay in his two previous starts for the Eagles. Only two other QBs reached the 300-yard mark in each of their first three starts for any NFL team: Wade Wilson for Atlanta in 1992 and Mark Rypien for St. Louis in 1995.
Lacy makes it two in a row vs Vikings
From Elias: Eddie Lacy gained 125 yards on 25 carries in the Packers' 24-21 win at Minnesota. Lacy, whose only previous 100-yard game this season was also against the Vikings (105 yards on Oct. 2), joined a small group that is about as impressive as it gets. The only other players with two 100-yard rushing games against Minnesota in the same season were Gale Sayers (1968), Walter Payton (1977 and 1979), Billy Sims (1981), and Barry Sanders 1991, 1996, and 1997).
Rodgers continues his mastery at Minnesota
From Elias: Aaron Rodgers passed for 209 yards and two TDs in Green Bay's win. Rodgers has now thrown 17 TDs and only one interception in seven road games against the Vikings, and his passer rating in those games is 123.0. The only player with a higher rating than that in road games against any NFL team is Ken Anderson with a 129.2 mark against the Colts, all at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore (minimum: 5 starts).
Rivers rebounds from pick-six
From Elias: Philip Rivers threw an early pick-six but completed 29 of 35 passes (83%) in the Chargers' 27-24 win over the Rams. Janoris Jenkins' 99-yard interception return was the first for a touchdown against Rivers since Sept. 29, 2013, a streak of 760 passes without having one returned for a TD. But get this: Rivers once had a streak more than twice that long: 1,604 passes without a pick-six (2008-11).
That was Rivers' second game throwing 30 or more passes and completing at least 80 percent of them. He completed 35 of 42 against the Cowboys last season (83%). The only other Chargers QBs with even one such game were Dan Fouts (1979) and Drew Brees (2005), with one apiece.
Colts fumble their way to 20-point victory
From Elias: The Colts fumbled six times on Sunday, losing three of them, but still managed a 23-3 win over the Jaguars. That was the largest margin of victory by a team with at least six fumbles since 1997, when Tampa Bay committed six fumbles in a 27-7 win over New England.
Hill keeps his great November going
From Elias: Jeremy Hill led all players with 87 rushing yards in the Bengals' 22-13 win at Houston. Hill's total of 448 yards in four games during November is already the highest by an NFL rookie in one calendar month either this season or last. We say "already" because Cincinnati will play a fifth game this month, next Sunday at Tampa Bay. With 52 rushing yards against the Bucs, Hill would become only the third active player to reach the 500-yard mark in one month during his rookie season. The others were Doug Martin (507 rushing yards in Nov. 2012) and Alfred Morris (631 yards in Dec. 2012).
Bears show no love to their ex-coach Smith
From Elias: Lovie Smith, who won more games as a head coach at Soldier Field (45-28) than anyone except Mike Ditka (63-23), returned to Chicago on Sunday. But the Bears did to Smith what they did to Jack Pardee and Dick Jauron upon their first visit as an opposing head coach: Chicago defeated Tampa Bay, 21-13, as it did against Pardee's Redskins in 1980 (35-21) and Jauron's Bills in 2006 (40-7).
Ditka, on the other hand, won his first game at Chicago as coach of the Saints (20-17), when Heath Shuler threw an 89-yard touchdown pass to Randal Hill with 5:39 remaining in the fourth quarter. That was, and still is, the longest fourth-quarter game-winning TD ever scored against the Bears.
Gasol's breakout season continues
From Elias: Marc Gasol scored 30 points in the Grizzlies' 107-91 win over the Clippers. It was Gasol's third 30-point game this season after he reached the 30-point mark only once in 436 games in his six previous seasons in the NBA.
Warriors subs grab the headlines
From Elias: For the first time in nearly seven years, two different Warriors players came off the bench to lead the team in scoring in consecutive games. On Friday night it was Andre Iguodala. On Sunday, when Golden State's starters shot a combined 28 percent from the floor, Marreese Speights led the Warriors with 28 points in a 91-86 win at Oklahoma City. The last Golden State teammates to do that were Al Harrington and Matt Barnes in December 2007.
Walker struggles as Hornets' go-to guy
From Elias: Kemba Walker missed two potential go-ahead shots in the final 30 seconds as the Hornets lost, 94-93, at Miami. Walker has been Charlotte's go-to shooter in clutch situations throughout his tenure with the team, taking 35 percent of its field-goal attempts in the last three minutes of the fourth quarter and OT periods with the teams separated by no more than five points (44% this season). But Walker has made only 34 percent of those shots.
Celtics shoot blanks down the stretch
From Elias: The Celtics made only six of their 23 shots from the field in the fourth quarter, losing, 94-88, to the Trail Blazers in a game that was tied after three quarters. Boston had shot 50 percent from the field in the fourth quarter over their last seven games, but Sunday's fourth-quarter field-goal percentage was the Celtics' lowest in any game this season (26%).
Talbot & Lundqvist post back-to-back shutouts
From Elias: Henrik Lundqvist posted his fourth shutout of the season with a 5-0 win against the Canadiens on Sunday, after his backup, Cam Talbot, notched his first clean sheet of the season in a 2-0 victory over the Flyers on Wednesday. It's the first time that the Rangers have shut out consecutive regular-season opponents since March 17-19, 2003, when Mike Dunham blanked the Islanders and Sabres.
Before Talbot and Lundqvist pulled it off this weekend, the last time the Rangers registered consecutive shutouts using a different goaltender in each game was in 1977, when Wayne Thomas won at St. Louis (Nov. 30) and John Davidson beat the North Stars in Minnesota (Dec. 3).
Backes is key to the Blues' power play
From Elias: David Backes scored one of the Blues' two power play goals in their 4-2 victory at Winnipeg. It was the Blues' fifth multiple-power play goal game this season, which ties them for second most in the NHL, behind the Penguins (8). Backes has scored six goals this season and five of them have been with a man advantage. By a rather remarkable coincidence, he has scored one power play goal in each of the Blues' five multi-PPG games.
Maroon's double tops Coyotes
From Elias: Patrick Maroon assisted on the first goal and scored the second goal in the Ducks' 2-1 win over the Coyotes. It was the fifth two-point game of Maroon's four-year NHL career. His four other multiple-point games all came within an 18-day span last season (March 23-April 9).