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Thursday, November 23, 2006
Elias Says ...

By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider

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

NFL
• On Oct. 23, Tony Romo replaced Drew Bledsoe at quarterback at halftime of the Cowboys' game against the Giants. By Nov. 23 -- Thanksgiving Day -- Romo's coming-out party was complete, as he led Dallas to its fourth win in his five starts, throwing five touchdown passes in a 38-10 triumph over Tampa Bay. Read on to discover how remarkable it was.

 Tony Romo
Romo

Romo's five touchdown passes tied the Cowboys' single-game record -- a record held not only by Troy Aikman, as you might have been led to believe by one rights-holder's coverage of the game. Aikman did throw five touchdown passes in an overtime game at Washington in 1999; but Don Meredith threw five in each of three different games for the Cowboys (including twice within 22 days in 1966), Craig Morton did it in two games (he even threw five touchdown passes in the first half of a game in 1969), Danny White in one game, and even Eddie LeBaron in a game in 1962.

Only one NFL player over the past 40 years has thrown five touchdown passes in a game with no more than four previous NFL starts under his belt; that was Kurt Warner -- like Romo, a quarterback who never heard his name called on draft day -- who fired five TD passes for the Rams against the 49ers in 1999, in his fourth NFL start.

Romo came up one short of the NFL record for touchdown passes in a Thanksgiving Day game. Miami's Bob Griese (in 1977, against the Cardinals in St. Louis) and Peyton Manning (two years ago in Detroit) threw six touchdown passes in a game on Turkey Day. The only other player who threw five touchdown passes on Thanksgiving Day was Johnny Green of the New York Titans in a 46-45 win in Denver in 1962. So Romo actually set the Thanksgiving Day record for TD passes in front of a home crowd.

Elias Says Quiz: The Thanksgiving Day contest was the 298th regular-season game as an NFL head coach for Bill Parcells, and it marked only the second time in all those games that one of his players has thrown five or more touchdown passes. Who was the other? Answer below; no peeking, please.

• Then, there's the matter of Romo's accuracy. He completed 13 consecutive passes at one point during Thursday's game, the longest streak by a Cowboys quarterback in a single game since Randall Cunningham completed 13 straight in a loss to the Cardinals on Sept. 10, 2000.

 Larry Johnson
Johnson

Larry Johnson deserves to kick back a bit. Just four days after he ran 31 times for 154 yards in the Chiefs' 17-13 win over the Raiders, he was back at it, gaining 157 yards on 34 carries in his team's 19-10 win over the Broncos.

Get this: Johnson became the first player in NFL history to carry as many as 34 times in a game no more than four days after carrying 30 or more times in his previous game. The previous record was held by Julius Jones of the Cowboys, who carried 33 times vs. Chicago on Thanksgiving Day 2004, four days after he had carried 30 times in a game at Baltimore.

And Johnson joined Barry Sanders as the only players in NFL history who have gained 150 or more rushing yards in each of two consecutive games played within a five-day span. In 1997, Sanders ran for 167 yards in a Thanksgiving Day win over the Bears, four days after putting up 216 yards in a victory over the Colts.

Oh, yes, Johnson also scored the Chiefs' only touchdown of the game, extending to 29 that quirky NFL-record streak of consecutive team rushing touchdowns scored by a single player.

• The Chiefs were the first NFL team other than the Cowboys or Lions to host a Thanksgiving Day game since the St. Louis Cardinals hosted the Dolphins in 1977. Miami crushed the Cardinals 55-14 at Busch Stadium -- the largest margin of defeat ever by an NFL home team on Thanksgiving.

• How did it turn sour so quickly for the Broncos? They went into last Sunday night's game with the Chargers tied for the division lead at 7-2 and emerged from Thursday night's game with the Chiefs trailing San Diego by a game and a half in the AFC West.

It has been 10 years since the last time that we saw an NFL team that stood at least five games above .500 before losing twice within a five-day span. Back in 1996, the Redskins took a record of 8-3 into games against San Francisco and Dallas but lost both within a span of five days.

• The Lions took a 10-0 lead over the Dolphins only to see Miami roar back to take a 27-10 win. It had been just two days short of five years since the Dolphins had last won a road game in which they faced a double-digit deficit. Back on Nov. 25, 2001, Dave Wannstedt's Dolphins overcame an 11-point deficit to beat the Bills 34-27 in Buffalo.

You have to go back 20 years to find the last time that a visiting team won a Thanksgiving Day game after having fallen behind by 10 or more points. In 1986, the Packers overcame a 14-point deficit to defeat the Lions 44-40 at the Pontiac Silverdome.

• The Buccaneers played their first Thanksgiving Day game. The only current NFL teams never to play on Thanksgiving Day are the Saints (joined the NFL in 1967), Bengals (AFL, 1968), Panthers (1995), Jaguars (1995), Ravens (1996) and Texans (2002).

Elias Says Quiz Answer: The only other player to throw five touchdown passes in a game while playing for head coach Bill Parcells wasn't Phil Simms or Drew Bledsoe or Vinny Testaverde. It was Neil O'Donnell, who threw five touchdown passes in a 41-3 win at Seattle on Aug. 31, 1997; that was the first regular-season game for which Parcells was the head coach of the Jets.

NHL
• The Canucks found little to be thankful for in their 6-0 loss to the Predators in Nashville. That was Vancouver's second shutout loss by that margin in the last 15 days, having dropped a 6-0 decision at home to the Ducks on Nov. 9.

You have to go back to October 1971 -- in the first month of the Canucks' second season in the NHL -- to find the only other time that they had suffered two such lopsided shutout losses within as short a span of time. In that case, the Canucks lost 7-0 to the North Stars in Minnesota on Oct. 20 and then dropped a 6-0 decision at home to the Canadiens two days later.

NBA
• The NBA was dark on Thursday, as the league observed Thanksgiving Day -- one of only three days during the season (other than the four-day period for the All-Star break) on which no games are slated to be played. The league also refrains from playing on Christmas Eve and on April 2.

What's April 2, you ask? That's the Monday night on which the final game of the NCAA men's basketball tournament is scheduled to be played.

With the exception of 1998, when a lockout was in effect, this was the first Thanksgiving Day without an NBA game since 1993. From 1983 to 1993, Thanksgiving was traditionally a dark day for the NBA, with only one game played during those 11 seasons (Nets at Kings in 1987).