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West is best, East is least (this week)
From Elias: The Broncos defeated the Giants, 41-23, to complete an AFC West sweep this weekend. It was only the second week in the last eight seasons on which Denver, San Diego, Kansas City, and Oakland all won. (The other was Week 2 in 2010.)
Ironically, Denver's win also capped a winless weekend for the NFC East. It was the third time in the last 12 seasons that the Giants, Cowboys, Eagles, and Redskins all lost (also Week 13 in 2011 and Week 9 last season).
12 years later, Manning posts another 40-40 start
From Elias: The Broncos became only the third team in the last 30 years to score at least 40 points in each of their first two games. The others were New Orleans in 2009 and Indianapolis in 2001 ¿ also QB'd, of course, by Peyton Manning.
Denver D records historic performance against Giants
From Elias: The Broncos held the Giants to 23 yards on 19 carries on Sunday. That was the Giants' lowest rushing-yardage total in a home game since 1954, when they netted 4 yards in a 16-7 loss to the Browns in a game played at ... Well, it wasn't even at Yankee Stadium; the Giants didn't move there until 1956. In 1954, they were still playing at the Polo Grounds, where two months earlier the baseball Giants had just won the first two games of a World Series sweep against the Indians.
Rookie Hopkins caps big game with OT touchdown
From Elias: Andre Johnson was held to 76 yards on eight catches in the Texans' 30-24 OT victory over the Titans. But support has arrived in the form of rookie DeAndre Hopkins, who contributed seven receptions for 117 yards on Sunday, including a 3-yard game-winning touchdown and a 25-yard reception to set it up.
Hopkins was only the third player in NFL history to score an overtime TD in his first or second game in the league. The others did so in their debut: James Mayberry of the Falcons in 1979 and James Allen of the Saints in 2002.
Hopkins' performance snapped Johnson's streak of 12 consecutive games as the Texans' leader in receiving yards. Johnson fell two short of the NFL record of 14 straight games with the team high in receiving yards, set by Laveranues Coles in 2002-03 (10 games with the Jets and 4 with the Redskins).
Rodgers is throwing TD passes three at a time
From Elias: Aaron Rodgers passed for 480 yards and four touchdowns in the Packers' 38-20 rout of the Redskins. That was the fifth-highest passing-yardage total in an NFL regular-season game without throwing an interception. Rodgers also tied the highest passing-yardage total by a Packers player at Lambeau Field, set by Matt Flynn on New Year's Day 2012.
It was Rodgers' fifth consecutive regular-season game with three or more TD passes, matching a streak that he recorded in 2011. Only two other players in NFL history had a pair of five-game streaks with three or more TD passes: Peyton Manning (2004 and 2012), and Tom Brady, who did it with a single 10-game streak in 2007.
Chiefs have already matched their 2012 win total
From Elias: The Chiefs, who won only two games in 2012, improved to 2-0 with a 17-16 win over the Cowboys. Only four other teams in NFL history started 2-0 after losing 14 or more games in the previous season (final record in parentheses): Lions in 1980 (9-7), 49ers in 1980 (6-10), Chargers in 2001 (5-11), and Panthers in 2002 (7-9).
QB Smith leads Chiefs in rushing in win over Cowboys
From Elias: In Sunday's victory over Dallas, Alex Smith gave Kansas City a new look. Smith became the first Chiefs quarterback in 18 years, and only the fourth in the team's history, to lead all players in rushing in a game (that is, all players on either team). The only previous KC QBs to capture game rushing honors were Cotton Davidson (1961), Steve Fuller (1981), and Steve Bono (1995).
EJ makes a good early impression
From Elias: EJ Manuel threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Stevie Johnson with 2 seconds to play and Dan Carpenter converted the extra point, giving the Bills a 24-23 win over the Panthers. Since 1960, only one other NFL player threw a game-winning TD pass inside the 2-minute warning in September of his rookie season: Russell Wilson in a controversial victory against the Packers on Monday Night Football last season.
Panthers blow another late lead
From Elias: Carolina's loss was the 10th in which the Panthers led in the fourth quarter during Ron Rivera's three seasons as head coach. That ties Philadelphia for the highest such total in the NFL during that time.
Royal off to a fast start for Chargers
From Elias: Eddie Royal caught three touchdown passes in the Chargers' 33-30 win at Philadelphia, giving Royal five TD receptions in two games this season. He is only the second player in team history to catch at least two TD passes in each of the first two games of a season. The first was John Jefferson in 1980.
Bennett makes quick impact for Bears, just as he did for Giants
From Elias: Martellus Bennett caught two touchdown passes, including a game-winner with 10 seconds to play, in the Bears' 31-30 victory over the Vikings. Bennett, who also scored against the Bengals last week, is the fourth player in Bears history to catch a TD pass in each of his first two games with the team, following Bob MacLeod (1939), Glen Kozlowski (1987), and Ricky Proehl (1997).
But wait ¿ there's more! Last season Bennett became the third player in Giants history to catch a TD pass in each of his first two games with the team, following Bob Topp (1954) and Edwin Lovelady (1987).
Bears are 2-0 after a pair of fourth-quarter rallies
From Elias: This is only the second time in the history of the Chicago Bears, dating back to 1920, that they won each of their first two games in a season after trailing in the fourth quarter of each. The only other season in which Chicago did that was 1971.
Jackson, master of the obscure, does it again
From Elias: Steven Jackson has long held a prominent position in the Elias Pantheon of the Obscure, as the only NFL player to rush for more than 10,000 yards but never lead the league in rushing for any particular week. When Jackson gained a career-high 179 yards on Week 8 in 2005, Tiki Barber ran for 206 yards. When Jackson netted 161 yards late in the 2008 season, Michael Turner, DeAngelo Williams, and Michael Bush all exceeded Jackson's total. And on a week in late 2006 when Roy Dayne's 153 yards was the modest league high, Jackson fell just short (150).
But on Sunday, Jackson added a more favorable item to his list of obscure achievements. Jackson opened the scoring in the Falcons' eventual 31-24 win over the Rams, whose jersey he wore for his first nine seasons in the NFL. Jackson became the first member of the 10,000-yard club ¿ rushing, that is ¿ to score a touchdown in his first game versus a former team.
Dolphins scored two early TDs in win over Colts
From Elias: For the first time in more than 10 years, the Dolphins scored two touchdowns in the first quarter of a road game, leading 14-3 after 15 minutes of their win over the Colts. Miami last did so at Buffalo in 2002. Miami's streak of 83 consecutive road games without two TDs in the first quarter had been the longest current streak in the league and a team record.
Baltimore D turns it around
From Elias: One week after getting blown out of their season opener in a 49-27 loss at Denver, the Ravens ¿ and their defense, in particular ¿ rebounded for a 14-6 victory over the Browns. That marked the 24th time in NFL history, a surprisingly high total, that a team allowed seven points or less one game after giving up seven or more TDs. Baltimore was only the second team to pull that off in its first two games of the season. The first was Detroit in 1968, losing its opener to Dallas, 59-13, and then posting a 42-0 win over Chicago.
Scherzer still looking for his 20th win
From Elias: The Tigers downed the Royals, 3-2, but Max Scherzer wasn't involved in the decision in his fourth attempt to register his 20th win of the season. Scherzer deserved a better fate after he allowed only one run in seven innings and handed a 2-1 lead to Drew Smyly, only to see Kansas City tie the score in the top of the eighth inning before Alex Avila hit his second home run of the game in the bottom of that inning to provide the Tigers with their margin of victory. It was the third time this season that Detroit's bullpen relinquished a lead in a game in which Scherzer was in line to pick up a win.
But here's some consolation for Scherzer, who reached 1000 career innings pitched in Sunday's game and did so with 71 wins and 1045 strikeouts. The only other pitcher in major-league history who accumulated both as many wins and as many strikeouts as Scherzer through his first 1000 innings is Pedro Martinez (71 wins and 1075 strikeouts).
Can you top this?
From Elias: Clay Buchholz improved his record to 11-0 with his victory over the Yankees after Max Scherzer won his first 13 decisions earlier this season. Over the past 100 years, there were only two other seasons in which two or more major-league pitchers won each their first 11 or more decisions. The other seasons in which it happened over that span (1914 to date) were 1939 (Atley Donald and Steve Sundra, both for the Yankees) and 1985 (San Diego's Andy Hawkins and Toronto's Dennis Lamp).
Pence continues his RBI streak
From Elias: Hunter Pence homered twice and drove in three runs in the Giants' victory over the Dodgers to extend his RBI streak to six consecutive games, during which time he's driven in 19 runs. Pence is the second major-leaguer in the last 51 seasons drive in 19 or more runs over a six-game span with at least one RBI in each game. The only other player to do so over that span (1963 to date) is Don Mattingly, who drove in 19 runs over the first six games of his eight-game home-run streak in July 1987.
Morneau's first RBI for the Pirates is a big one
From Elias: Justin Morneau's tie-breaking RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning proved to be the difference in the Pirates' 3-2 triumph over the Cubs. It was Morneau's first run batted in since he homered on August 30 in his final game with the Twins. Morneau's streak of 13 consecutive games without an RBI was the second-longest of his career and one game shy of his longest RBI drought (14 consecutive games in 2007).
Rays lose a game they usually win
From Elias: A three-run lead with David Price on the mound isn't what it used to be. The Rays' loss at Minnesota on Sunday was their third in five games this season that Price started and pitched with a lead of three or more runs. Tampa Bay had a 50-3 record in such games from 2009 through 2012.
Big hit for d'Arnaud
From Elias: Travis d'Arnaud was 0-for-17 with runners in scoring position in his major-league career before he delivered a bases-loaded single with two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning to give the Mets a 1-0 victory over the Marlins. He's the first rookie in Mets history to produce a walkoff RBI in a game that was scoreless up to that point.
Sale can't figure out the Indians
From Elias: The Indians defeated Chris Sale for the fourth time this season as they completed a four-game series sweep in Chicago. Sale (0-4 vs. the Indians this year) is the first White Sox pitcher to lose four games to the Tribe in one season since 1958, when Billy Pierce went 3-4 in nine games (eight starts) versus Cleveland.
Cardinals snap hitless streak with men on base
From Elias: The Cardinals scored four runs in both the fourth and fifth innings of their 12-2 triumph over the Mariners. St. Louis had been hitless in 29 consecutive at-bats with men on base before Matt Adams opened the floodgates with his fourth-inning single while Yadier Molina occupied first base. That was the first of the Cardinals' 11 hits with runners on base in Sunday's game.
Two-inning save for Frieri
From Elias: Ernesto Frieri struck out four batters in a two-inning stint that nailed down the Angels' 2-1 win at Houston. It was Frieri's 34th save this season and his seventh save of more than one inning. No other major-league pitcher has earned more than four saves of four or more outs this year. Frieri is the first closer to notch as many as seven saves of more than an inning in one season since 2010, when Brian Wilson (10), John Axford (9) and Carlos Marmol (8) all did so. Frieri has the most "long" saves in one season for an Angels pitcher since 2004, when Francisco Rodriguez saved seven games in which he recorded four or more outs.
Valencia earns his spot
From Elias: Danny Valencia's two-run double in the third inning gave the Orioles a lead they would never relinquish in their 3-1 victory at Toronto. It looked like Valencia would have a diminished role down the stretch when Baltimore acquired Michael Morse, another right-handed bat, from the Mariners on August 30, but Valencia has a .410 batting average (16-for-39) with four doubles, three homers and ten RBIs in the 11 games he's played since that trade.
No Cespedes, no problem
From Elias: The Athletics completed their three-game sweep of the Rangers despite being without Yoenis Cespedes, who was a late scratch from the A's lineup due to shoulder stiffness. Oakland is 79-47 (.627) in games that Cespedes has played this season; Sunday's victory improved the A's record to 9-14 (.391) in games that Cespedes has missed.
Big day at the plate from behind the plate
From Elias: Wilson Ramos hit a sixth-inning home run to go along with his RBI singles in the second, fourth and seventh innings as the Nationals disposed of the Phillies. Over the last three seasons (2011 to date), the only other catcher to go 4-for-4 or better with five or more RBIs in a game is Russell Martin, who did so for the Yankees against the Athletics on August 25, 2011 (5-for-5, six RBIs).
Reds blow a late lead in loss at Milwaukee
From Elias: Sean Halton capped a Brewers comeback with his ninth-inning walkoff home run off of Zach Duke to defeat the Reds, 6-5, in a game that Milwaukee trailed by a 5-1 score in the seventh inning. It was Cincinnati's third loss this season in a game in which it led by four or more runs in the seventh inning or later, the most such losses for any major-league team. The Reds' previous losses of that kind this year were against the Pirates (April 14) and Cubs (May 26).
Ten strikeouts for Smith in his first big-league win
From Elias: Burch Smith earned his first major-league victory as the Padres won in Atlanta. Smith, who fanned 10 Braves in his seven innings on the mound, became the third Padres pitcher to strike out ten or more batters while recording his first win in the majors. He joined Bob Shirley (11 strikeouts on April 10, 1977 at Cincinnati) and Greg Harris (11 strikeouts on Sept. 25, 1988 vs. Houston).