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Sunday, November 12, 2006
Elias Says ...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider

A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:

NFL
• The thing about the NFL is that you never know. Take Sunday -- a day on which only one of the league's 15 games matched teams that came into the day with winning records. But by the time that the Bears-Giants game started, the 28 teams that played during the afternoon had already tied a league record by playing 12 games that were decided by eight or fewer points -- in other words, "one-possession games."

The only other day in NFL history in which there had been 12 one-possession games was Jan. 2, 2005 -- the final day of the 2004 season -- when 12 of the 16 games were decided by eight-or-fewer points.

• The Bengals jumped out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead over the Chargers, and, combined with the Titans' 19-point first-half lead over the Ravens, you couldn't blame Cincinnati fans if they were mentally re-computing the AFC North standings, hopeful that by nightfall, the Ravens' two-game lead would be halved. Instead, after two stunning comebacks, the Ravens now lead the division by three games.

That matched the largest deficit that the Chargers had ever overcome in a victory (in 1983, they came from 21 points down to defeat the Seahawks); and it was the largest deficit overcome to win for a team head-coached by Marty Schottenheimer. Schottenheimer's previous record comeback came on Dec. 19, 1993, when his Chiefs -- led by Joe Montana -- came back from 17 points down to defeat the Chargers 28-24.

The Chargers' total of 42 second-half points was the highest by any NFL team since Oct. 14, 1979, when the Saints put up 42 second-half points in a 42-14 win at Tampa.

• The Ravens also set a record for their 11-year-old franchise for the largest deficit overcome (19 points) in a victory. Correspondingly, it was the largest lead that the Titans or their predecessors, the Oilers, had ever possessed in a regular-season game that they went on to lose. Of course, the Houston Oilers had the granddaddy of all postseason blown leads: In the 1992 playoffs, they held a 32-point lead over the Bills only to see Buffalo come back to win 41-38 in overtime.

 LaDainian Tomlinson
Tomlinson
• LaDainian Tomlinson scored four touchdowns in the Chargers' victory, lifting his touchdown total through the first nine games of the season to 18, including 15 in his last five games.

Each of those totals is an NFL record. Tomlinson broke the record of 17 touchdowns through nine games, done by Jim Brown in 1958 and by Shaun Alexander last year. And he broke the mark of 14 touchdowns over a five-game span set by Brown in 1958.

 Chad Johnson
Johnson
• Chad Johnson's total of 260 receiving yards, a Bengals single-game record, was the highest by any NFL player since Terrell Owens had 283 receiving yards in the Dec. 17, 2000 game against the Bears in which T.O. had an NFL-record 20 receptions.

And Johnson's receiving-yards total was the second highest in a loss by any player in the history of the NFL. Jacksonville's Jimmy Smith amassed 291 receiving yards in a 39-36 loss to Baltimore on Sept. 10, 2000.

• Didn't you think there would be headlines when Brett Favre finally broke Dan Marino's NFL record for career touchdown passes? And yet when it happened on Sunday, there was nary a word.

Of course, we're talking about Marino's record for touchdown passes in road games. With two touchdown tosses in the Packers' win at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Favre now has thrown 198 touchdown passes on the road, one more than did Marino. (Marino holds a 223-211 advantage in touchdown passes in home games, and leads Favre by 11 overall, 420 to 409.)

• The Colts moved to 9-0, becoming the first NFL team to win its first nine games in each of two consecutive seasons, with a 17-16 victory over the Bills. The last NFL team to extend its season unbeaten streak with a one-point victory this far into a season was Don Shula's Dolphins team in 1984, when Miami went 11-0 with a 24-23 win over the Eagles before falling the following week at San Diego.

• Remember when the Seahawks' Josh Brown kicked a 54-yard field goal to turn an apparent defeat into a 30-28 win in the closing seconds of the game at St. Louis on Oct. 15? Well, four weeks later, he did it again.

Brown turned another deficit into a win -- again against the Rams -- with his 38-yard field goal with nine seconds left at Seattle on Sunday. It turned a 22-21 deficit into a 24-22 victory.

Now, the Elias part: Brown became the first player in NFL history to beat the same team twice in the same season with a trailing-to-leading field goal in the final minute of the game.

• The Jets' 17-14 win over the Patriots was New England's second consecutive loss -- and ended a streak of 57 consecutive regular-season games in which the Patriots hadn't lost two in a row.

That was the longest streak in the NFL since San Francisco went 60 consecutive regular-season games without a two-game losing streak from 1995 to 1999. The all-time NFL record (despite what you may have heard elsewhere) is 81 consecutive games without losing two straight, set by the Packers from 1938 to 1945.

 Willie Parker
Parker
• Willie Parker ran for 213 yards in the Steelers' win over the Saints, becoming the first NFL player to hit the double-century mark in rushing yards this season. Over the last 40 years, only one other player who went undrafted out of college had run for 200 yards in an NFL game: Priest Holmes, who ran for 227 yards for the Ravens at Cincinnati on Nov. 22, 1998.

• Marques Colston, the Saints' remarkable seventh-round draft choice, had 10 receptions at Pittsburgh after gathering in 11 passes last week at Tampa. He thereby became the first rookie in the history of the NFL to reach double-figures in receptions in each of two consecutive games.

• The Bears walloped the Giants 38-20 on Sunday night -- the second-most points that the Bears have ever scored against the Giants, in a rivalry that dates back to 1925. On Nov. 14, 1943, the Bears drubbed the Giants, 56-7, at the Polo Grounds, in a game in which Sid Luckman set an NFL record (since tied, never surpassed) with seven touchdown passes.

 Donovan McNabb
McNabb
• Donovan McNabb connected with Donte' Stallworth for an 84-yard touchdown pass in the Eagles' 27-3 win over the Redskins. Earlier this season, McNabb and Hank Baskett partnered on an 87-yard scoring pass.

The last Eagles quarterback with two touchdown passes of 80-plus yards in one season was Ron Jaworski in 1985.

NBA
• Yao Ming dominated Shaquille O'Neal in Houston's 94-72 victory at Miami. Yao had 34 points and 14 rebounds to Shaq's 15 points and 10 rebounds.

 Shaquille O'Neal
O'Neal
It was the 945th regular-season game of O'Neal's career, and the first time that the opposition's starting center had outscored him by so wide a margin. Technically, the previous record was 16 points, set by the Bulls' Eddy Curry, who outscored Shaq, 16-0, on Feb. 22, 2005, but in a game in which O'Neal played only two minutes due to injury. The opposing center who had the next-widest scoring margin over Shaq (and the highest legitimate total) was David Robinson, who outscored O'Neal, 30-15, on March 19, 1993, in Shaq's rookie season.

Only one other center had ever had 34-or-more points and 14-or-more rebounds in a game against O'Neal -- and that guy did it twice. Patrick Ewing went 34-and-14 and 37-and-17 in separate games against The Rookie Big Aristotle in 1993.

• The Kings' Kevin Martin went 8-for-8 from the foul line in Sacramento's 107-92 win over Toronto, extending to 36 his NBA season-high streak of consecutive free throws made. That's one shy of his career-high streak of 37 in a row set this past February.

NHL
 Brian Boucher
Boucher
• Brian Boucher earned his first shutout since his modern-era record five-game streak in 2003-04 when the Blackhawks blanked Columbus 1-0. Since then (Jan. 10, 2004 to date), 69 different NHL goaltenders had recorded at least one shutout.

Including combined shutouts (where no individual gets credits, only the team), there were 236 shutouts in the NHL in the period between Boucher's record streak and his whitewash on Sunday night.

MLS
• The Dynamo beat the Revolution on penalty kicks to win the MLS Cup and to leave the Revs 0-for-3 in the MLS Cup Finals. Let's consider MLS, the NHL, the NBA, the NFL and Major League Baseball: Nine other teams have lost each of their first three visits to the championship game or round.

The Galaxy, Pistons, Knicks, Patriots and Blues, like the Revolution, lost in each of their first three trips to the finals; the Tigers, Vikings and Broncos lost in each of their first four trips; and the Dodgers lost in each of their first seven visits to the World Series.

• The MLS Best XI was announced Sunday and it included seven U.S.-born players and eight U.S. nationals. The Americans honored were Troy Perkins, Bobby Boswell, Jose Burciaga, Jr., Jimmy Conrad, Ricardo Clark, Clint Dempsey, Justin Mapp and Jeff Cunningham, who was born in Jamaica but has played for the U.S. National Team. The total of seven U.S.-born players is the highest for an MLS Best XI; there were eight U.S. nationals twice previously, in 2002 and 2003. With the newly-passed "Beckham Rule," we may not see so many Americans on a Best XI for a while.