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Spurs' Big 3 Do Damage vs Kings
From Elias: There are no guarantees, but when Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili all score at least 15 points, and they do it at home, there's little hope for the Spurs' opponent. That's what happened on Sunday, when San Antonio's Big 3 accounted for 67 points in a 112-104 win over the Kings. The Spurs have a 56-9 record in home games in which Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili all scored 15 or more points.
Cavs Lose Another Close One
From Elias: The Warriors posted a 108-104 overtime win at Cleveland. It was the Cavaliers' fifth consecutive loss, but the last three have been by a total of nine points. In fact, it's the first time since 1981, back in the days of Kenny Carr and Bill Laimbeer, that the Cavs have lost three straight games, each by fewer than five points.
Orlando's Efficient Offense Downs Hawks
From Elias: The Magic shot 55 percent from the field, with assists on 30 of 41 field goals, in a 109-102 victory over the Hawks. It was the first time since 1994 that Orlando shot 55 percent or better with at least 30 assists against the Hawks.
Islanders Win With 3-Goal Comeback At Minnesota
From Elias: The Islanders trailed, 3-0, in their game at Minnesota but rallied to post a 5-4 victory over the Wild. That ended the Islanders' NHL-record 380-game winless streak in games in which they trailed by three goals or more. But to get a good sense of how long the Islanders' winless streak was, you'd have to know that the second-longest win drought in that situation is 258 games by the Nordiques/Avalanche from March 1986 to January 1996. Before Sunday, the last time the Islanders won a game after trailing by at least a three-goal margin was a 5-4 overtime victory against Tampa Bay at Nassau Coliseum on March 22, 1994. The Islanders trailed, 4-0, in that game.
Miller's Long Night Ends With Impressive Win
From Elias: Ryan Miller stopped 49 of the Capitals' 50 shots on goal and then went unscored upon in Washington's six attempts in the shootout which earned him and the Sabres a 2-1 victory. Miller is the first NHL goaltender to register a win in a shootout of at least five rounds in which he did not allow a goal, after facing 50 or more shots in regulation play and overtime in that game. The only other goaltender to do that in a shootout of more than three rounds is Martin Brodeur in his 1-0 win over the Rangers on Jan. 12, 2010 (51 shots on goal, four shootout attempts).
Clemmensen Continues Domination Of Habs
From Elias: Scott Clemmensen made 21 saves in the Panthers' 4-1 victory over the Canadiens. Clemmensen has an 8-1-0 record in 10 games versus Montreal, but he hasn't defeated any other NHL team more than five times. His .889 points percentage against the Canadiens is the highest among the 18 active NHL goaltenders that have faced Montreal at least 10 times.
Pens Top Blue Jackets On Neal's Career Night
From Elias: James Neal set a career high for points in one game when he scored three goals and assisted twice in the Penguins' 5-3 win at Columbus. Neal is the second NHL player to record at least five points in a game in which he scored or assisted on all of his team's goals this season. Washington's Nicklas Backstrom did that with one goal and four assists in the Capitals' shootout win against the Lightning on December 10. Neal was the first Penguins player to do so since Sidney Crosby's six-point game versus the Islanders on January 19, 2010 (two goals, four assists in a 6 -4 Pittsburgh win).
Kessel Scores 20 In 1st Half
From Elias: The Maple Leafs completed the first half of their 82-game schedule with a 5-2 win over the Hurricanes. Phil Kessel led the way to victory for Toronto by scoring his team-leading 19th and 20th goals of the season. Since 2002-03, the only Maple Leafs player to score 20 or more goals in the team's first 41 games of a season was Kessel himself in 2011-12 (24 goals).
Zuccarello Shines On Power Play
From Elias: Mats Zuccarello tallied one goal and two assists, all on power plays, to lead the Rangers to a 4-3 win over the Lightning. Over the last two seasons the only other Rangers player to register three power play points in one game was Derick Brassard, who did that in a 6-1 victory against the Penguins last season.
Lack Blanks Flames
From Elias: Eddie Lack posted his second NHL shutout in the Canucks' 2-0 win at Calgary. Lack, who notched his first clean sheet with a 2-0 victory against the Hurricanes on December 9, is only the third Vancouver rookie to record two or more shutouts in one season. The others were Glen Hanlon (three in 1978-79) and Ken Lockett (two in 1974-75).
Foles And McCoy Are Tops In Their Categories
From Elias: Nick Foles finished the season as the NFL's leading passer with a 119.2 rating and LeSean McCoy led the league in rushing with 1,607 yards. The last time that teammates led their league in both passing and rushing┐by whatever measure was used in that season┐was in 1965 when the Chargers did it in the days of an eight-team AFL. John Hadl led the league in passing and Paul Lowe led in rushing.
McCoy also broke the Eagles' longstanding records for rushing yards in one season and in one calendar month. Wilbert Montgomery was the previous record-holder for a season (1,512 yards in 1979). McCoy rushed for 598 yards in December; the previous mark was 546 by Steve Van Buren, set in November 1949.
And On The 17th Week, He Rested (In The 2nd Half)
From Elias: A week after setting an NFL single-season record for touchdown passes, Peyton Manning stuck around just long enough to break Drew Brees' record for passing yards in a season. Manning completed 25 of 28 passes for 266 yards and four TDs and then sat out the second half of the Broncos' 34-14 romp at Oakland.
Manning finished the season with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards, one yard more than Brees passed for two years ago. In so doing, Manning also set an NFL mark for passing yards in one month (1,755); the previous mark was 1,700 yards by Matt Hasselbeck in December 2002. Manning fell one short of Tom Brady's record of 20 TD passes in a calendar month.
Manning is the fourth player in NFL history to break the league records for passing yards and TD passes in the same season. The others were Cecil Isbell (1942), Sid Luckman (1943), and Dan Marino (1984).
Rodgers Connects With Cobb For Long Game-Winner
From Elias: Aaron Rodgers threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Randall Cobb with 38 seconds to play, giving the Packers a 33-28 victory at Chicago. That was the second-longest game-winning TD pass in the final minute of the fourth quarter in team history. The only longer one was thrown by Babe Parilli to Billy Howton, covering 75 yards, in a 24-21 win at Baltimore in 1957.
Gino's Record Falls To Gostkowski After 49 Years
From Elias: Stephen Gostkowski kicked four field goals and added two extra points in the Patriots' 34-20 win over Buffalo. Gostkowski finished the season with 158 points, breaking Gino Cappelletti's 49-year-old single-season team record of 155 points in 1964.
Only one current NFL team has a scoring record older than the mark that Gostkowski broke: Paul Hornung set the Packers' record with 176 points in 1960. Two other teams have records that date back to the 1960s: Jim Brown, 126 points for Cleveland in 1965; and Jim Turner, 145 points for the Jets in 1968.
Edelman's December To Remember
From Elias: Julian Edelman caught nine passes in the Patriots' win, setting a new team record for receptions in one calendar month (44). The previous mark was 39 catches by Wes Welker in November 2009.
3 Bills Teammates Make Their Mark
From Elias: Stefan Charles recorded the Bills' only sack in Sunday's loss. But Buffalo finished the season as the first team in 13 years with three players who reached double-digits in sacks: Mario Williams (13), Kyle Williams (10.5), and Jerry Hughes (10). The last three teammates to do so were La'Roi Glover, Joe Johnson, and Darren Howard of the Saints in 2000.
Rivers Leads Chargers To His 30th December Victory In 10 Seasons
From Elias: Philip Rivers passed for 229 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Chargers to a 27-24 overtime win over the Chiefs. Of course he did; it's December, and that was Rivers' 30th regular-season win during the month of December. That is the highest such total in NFL history over a player's first 10 seasons in the league (one more than Tom Brady recorded from 2000 through 2009).
Brees' Long TDs Lead Saints To Big Win Over Bucs
From Elias: Drew Brees threw four touchdown passes, including three for 40 yards or longer, in the Saints' 42-17 win over the Buccaneers. It was the 25th time that Brees threw four or more TDs in one game, a total that ranks second in NFL history to Peyton Manning (31). But it was the first time that Brees threw at least three TD passes of 40-plus yards in one game, and he was the first player to do so since Tony Romo in 2009.
Sophomore Gordon Tops NFL In Receiving Yards
From Elias: Josh Gordon caught seven passes for 82 yards in the Browns' 20-7 loss to the Steelers. Gordon finished the season with 1,646 receiving yards, to become only the second player to lead the NFL in that category in his second season in the league since Jerry Rice did it in 1986. The other was Torry Holt in 2000.
Gordon is the fourth player to lead the league in receiving yards but to rank outside the top 10 in both receptions and TD catches. The others were Isaac Bruce (1996), Holt (2000), and Chad Johnson (2006).
Bell Goes Where Only Franco Has Gone Before
From Elias: Le'Veon Bell gained 90 yards on 20 carries in the Steelers' win. That increased his season total to 860 rushing yards, passing Bam Morris to post the second-most rushing yards by a Steelers rookie. The record was set by Franco Harris in 1972 (1,055 yards).
The Highs And Lows Of Dalton's Season Finale
From Elias: Andy Dalton broke Carson Palmer's single-season Bengals record for passing yards and touchdown passes in the Bengals' 34-17 win over the Ravens. But playoff-bound Cincinnati will also be concerned with Dalton's four interceptions, the highest single-game total of his NFL career. In fact, over the last 20 seasons, only one other Bengals QB was picked off four times in one game (Palmer against the Cardinals in 2007).
Niners Rebound From Cardinals' Late Score To Win At Buzzer
From Elias: Phil Dawson kicked a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the 49ers a 23-20 victory over the Cardinals, who had tied the game with 29 seconds remaining. It was only the second time in the Niners' NFL history that they won a game in the fourth quarter after allowing a game-tying or go-ahead score with less than a minute to play.
The only other such game in team history was a 27-24 win at Detroit in 1966. John Brodie hit Monty Stickles with a 21-yard game-winning pass with 3 seconds to play after the Lions took the lead on a Sweetan-to-Gibbons pass at 14:09 of the fourth quarter.
Hardy Headed To Playoffs In Rare Form
From Elias: Greg Hardy recorded four sacks in the Panthers' 21-20 victory over the Falcons following a three-sack performance against the Saints one week earlier. Sacks have been recorded for individual players since 1982. Hardy will be the first player during those 32 seasons to head to the playoffs coming off back-to-back games of three or more sacks. The only other player to finish a season with two consecutive three-sack games was Michael McCrary of the Seahawks in 1996, when Seattle failed to qualify for the postseason.
Seahawks Stop Rams' Ground Attack
From Elias: The Seahawks shut down the Rams' running game to post a 27-9 victory. St. Louis gained 13 yards on 18 carries, marking the first time in Seattle's 38 seasons in the NFL that it held an opponent below 1.0 yards per carry.
Hilton Caps 2nd NFL Season With Another 100-Yd Game
From Elias: T.Y. Hilton caught 11 passes for 155 yards in the Colts' 30-10 win over the Jaguars. That was the 10th 100-yard game of Hilton's two-year NFL career. Only five other players, three of them more than a half-century ago, recorded at least 100 receiving yards in 10 games over their first two seasons in the league: Bill Groman, 16 (1960-61); Groman's teammate Charley Hennigan, 12 (1960-61); Randy Moss, 11 (1998-99); Harlon Hill, 10 (1954-55); and Torry Holt, 10 (1999-2000).
Dolphins Eliminated By Home Loss To Jets
From Elias: The Dolphins needed a home win over the Jets to stay in contention for a playoff spot, and that seemed a good bet considering they had defeated the Jets at New Jersey earlier in the month. But there were two trends working against Miami, which was eliminated via a 20-7 loss. First, Miami and New York had split their season series in four of the past five seasons. The only sweep from 2008 through 2012 was by the Dolphins in 2009.
Second, in three of those four recent splits -- in 2008, 2010, and 2012 -- the visiting team won both games. Looking at it another way, the visiting team has now won 11 of the last 15 games between the Dolphins and Jets.
Combined with their shutout loss at Buffalo last week, the Dolphins were the first team to score fewer than 10 points over their last two games of a season since the Browns suffered back-to-back shutouts to end the 2008 season.
Tuck Ties LT's Sack Record
From Elias: Justin Tuck, who sacked Robert Griffin four times when the Giants defeated the Redskins on December 1, recorded two sacks against Kirk Cousins in the Giants' season-ending 20-6 victory over the Skins. Tuck tied the record for sacks against Washington in one season, set by Lawrence Taylor in 1986.
Johnson Notches Another 1,000-Yard Season
From Elias: Chris Johnson gained 127 yards on 27 carries in the Titans' 16-10 win over the Texans. That pushed Johnson over the 1,000-yard mark for the sixth time in six seasons in the NFL, but he has never won a playoff game. The only other players to gain at least 1,000 rushing yards in each of their first six NFL seasons but fail to win a playoff game during that time were Corey Dillon (1997-2002) and LaDainian Tomlinson (2001-06).
Vikings Close Metrodome Without Peterson
From Elias: The Vikings defeated the Lions, 14-13, in their final game at the Metrodome, now officially known as Mall of America Field, which served as the team's home since 1982. Adrian Peterson, who missed the game with a sprained right foot, averaged 110.4 rushing yards per game at the Metrodome. The only player with a higher career average at one venue (minimum: 25 games played there) was Eric Dickerson (113.8 rushing yards per game at Anaheim Stadium).