Sunday, October 8, 2006
Elias Says ...
By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• Only three teams in major-league history reached the postseason despite losing as many as 28 of their last 50 regular-season games: the 1976 Royals, who lost the ALCS to the Yankees, and the Cardinals and Tigers this season. The Cardinals had the worst record in the NL Central from July 23 to the end of the season (28-37); the Tigers had the worst in the AL Central from Aug. 2 to the end of the season (24-32).
• The Padres failed to score in Sunday's 6-2 loss to the Cardinals after plating two runs in the top of the first, fueled by an uncharacteristic wild spell by Chris Carpenter. Carpenter walked three batters the inning, including a bases-loaded pass to Russell Branyan. Since debuting for the Cardinals in 2004, Carpenter hadn't issued as many as three walks in the first inning (93 regular-season starts) or walked a batter with the bases loaded (34 batters faced with the bases full).
• Incidentally, Branyan drew his RBI walk after falling behind 1-2 in the count. That was noteworthy because Branyan's batting average of .107 (104-for-973) with two strikes since his rookie season of 2000 is the lowest in the majors during that time (minimum: 250 at-bats).
• David Eckstein drove in the Cardinals' fifth run with a squeeze bunt in the sixth inning. Eckstein also executed a squeeze bunt against the Padres in Game 2 of the 2005 NLDS. No other player since 1930 has had more than one RBI sacrifice bunt in postseason play.
• The Bears have posted four wins by 25 or more points during their 5-0 start. The only other team in NFL history with four 25-point wins after five games was the 1941 Bears, who were coming off a 73-0 win over the Redskins in the 1940 NFL championship game and went on to win another title in 1941.
• After scoring the final 17 points in last week's rout of the Seahawks, the Bears took a 40-0 lead over the Bills in Sunday's 40-7 victory. It was the second time this season that Chicago scored at least 50 unanswered points. The last three teams to record two such streaks in the same season all went on to win the Super Bowl: the Steelers in 2005, the Ravens in 2000, and the 49ers in 1994.
• Reggie Bush became the first rookie in NFL history to score a game-winning touchdown on a punt return in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter or in overtime. Bush scored on a 65-yard punt return with 4:17 remaining in the Saints' 24-21 win over the Bucs. (Honorable mention to Tamarick Vanover, who scored a game-winning punt-return TD in 1995, his first season in the NFL. But Vanover was not a rookie because he had played in the CFL.)
• Bush caught 11 passes against the Bucs on Sunday. The only other player ever to catch at least 10 passes and score on a punt return in the same game was Rod Smith of the Broncos (2003 vs. Chargers).
• Matt Leinart threw two first-quarter touchdown passes in the Cardinals' 23-20 loss to the Chiefs. The only other quarterback in the Super Bowl era to throw two or more first-quarter TDs in his first NFL start was Doug Pederson of the Eagles (Sept. 12, 1999 vs. Cardinals).
• Leinart completed 22 of 35 passes (63 percent) for 253 yards. Over the last 50 years, only three other rookie QBs completed at least 60 percent of their passes for 250 or more yards in their first NFL start: Roman Gabriel (1962), Dan Marino (1983) and Brent Pease, a replacement player for the Houston Oilers during the 1987 players' strike.
• The Chiefs didn't record a rushing first down against the Cardinals, the first time in its history that Kansas City won a game without a first down by rushing. There have been only six such wins in the NFL in the last 10 years, three of them against Arizona.
• Lito Sheppard preserved the Eagles' victory over the Cowboys with a 102-yard interception return for a touchdown. Sheppard, who scored on a 101-yard INT return against the Cowboys in 2004, is the first player in NFL history to score two TDs on interceptions returns of 100 yards or longer.
• Hank Baskett scored the first touchdown of his NFL career on an 87-yard pass from Donovan McNabb. Only five other players caught passes that long for their first NFL TD, the most recent being Mark Malone -- yes, the Steelers quarterback, Mark Malone, in 1981. Malone scored on a 90-yard pass from Terry Bradshaw.
• Brett Favre recorded his second interception-free game of the season, but this one was different than any other in his career. The Packers lost to the Rams 23-20. It was the first time that Green Bay lost a game at Lambeau Field in which Favre didn't throw an INT. Prior to Sunday's loss, the Packers were 40-0 in such games.