Sunday, January 7, 2007
Elias Says ...
By Elias Sports Bureau, Inc.
Special to ESPN Insider
A daily glance inside the numbers from the world of sports:
• Tom Brady passed for 212 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Patriots' 37-16 victory over the Jets. Brady has started 12 postseason games, and he has thrown no INTs in eight of them. The only quarterback with as many INT-less postseason starts as Brady is Joe Montana, who did it nine times in nearly twice as many starts (23).
• Asante Samuel capped the scoring in the Patriots' victory with a 36-yard touchdown on an interception return. Samuel, who scored on a 73-yard INT return in last season's wild-card win over the Jaguars, is the first player in NFL history to score postseason TDs on interceptions in consecutive seasons.
• For the second consecutive season, Bill Belichick's Patriots eliminated a wild-card opponent whose head coach was making his postseason debut -- Eric Mangini of the Jets on Sunday, Jack Del Rio of the Jaguars last season. Belichick's victory over Del Rio snapped a streak of five consecutive wins by coaches in their postseason debut who were facing a coach who had won a Super Bowl -- a streak that began with Belichick's own postseason debut on New Year's Day 1995. (Belichick's Browns defeated Bill Parcells' Patriots.)
• Jerricho Cotchery scored the Jets' only touchdown on a 77-yard pass from Chad Pennington that was noteworthy for several reasons: (1) It was the longest play from scrimmage in Jets postseason history; (2) it tied Isaac Bruce's record for the longest TD on the first postseason reception of a player's career; (3) Cotchery, who scored on a 71-yard reception against the Patriots on Sept. 17, became the first player ever to score TDs of 70 yards or longer against the same opponent in both the regular season and the postseason that followed.
• But, as Ron Popeil might say, wait -- there's more! Cotchery's touchdown gave the Jets a 10-7 lead. That lead lasted less than four minutes, but it was the first time a visiting team held a lead in a postseason game at Foxboro since Adam Vinatieri's 45-yard field goal erased a 13-10 Oakland edge with 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter of the famous "Snow Bowl" in the 2001 playoffs.
After that, the Patriots played four full home playoff games without trailing. All told, New England had played 264 minutes, 11 seconds without trailing in a playoff game at home.
• A pair of rookies led their respective teams in rushing in the Patriots' victory: Laurence Maroney with 69 yards for New England, Leon Washington with 50 yards for the Jets. The last rookies to lead their teams in rushing in the same postseason game were Jamal Lewis of the Ravens and Mike Anderson of the Broncos in 2000.
• David Akers kicked a 38-yard field goal as time expired to give the Eagles a 23-20 victory over the Giants. It was only the third fourth-quarter walkoff field goal in NFL postseason history. The others were by Matt Bahr of the Giants (42 yards against the 49ers in an NFC title game in January 1991) and Adam Vinatieri of the Patriots (48 yards against the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI).
• Brian Westbrook gained 141 yards rushing in the Eagles' victory, four more than Tiki Barber recorded for the Giants. It was the first playoff game in NFL history in which players on both teams gained at least 137 yards rushing. The previous high was 125 in an AFC divisional game between the Colts and Chiefs three years ago. Priest Holmes rushed for 176 yards, Edgerrin James for 125 yards.
Westbrook and Barber both ran for more than 40 yards on a single play. The only other postseason games in which opposing runners did so were played in the 1950s: Hugh McElhenny (49ers) and Tom Tracy (Lions) in 1957, and Doak Walker (Lions) and Marion Motley (Browns) in 1952.
• Barber, who gained 234 yards in the Giants' regular-season finale against the Redskins last week, is the second player in NFL history to rush for 100 yards in both his final regular-season game and his final postseason game. Assuming Sunday's game was his last, that is. The other was Billy Sims.
Honorable mention to Sterling Sharpe, the only player to gain 100 yards receiving in his last regular-season and postseason games. Assuming Santana Moss returns in 2007, that is.
• So all things considered, this wasn't the best of weekends for New York football teams, or their fans, or even their former head coaches: Bill Parcells' and Herm Edwards' current teams were eliminated in Saturday's wild-card games.
• Martin Brodeur made 28 saves in the Devils' 3-0 victory at Bell Centre. It was the fourth shutout that Brodeur has recorded in his native city. Three other visiting goaltenders have posted four or more shutouts against the Canadiens, but none are Montreal natives. Harry Lumley (7) was born in Owen Sound, Ontario; Terry Sawchuk (6) and Jim Henry (4) were both born in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
• The Senators pinned a 6-1 defeat on the Flyers and their goaltender, Antero Niittymaki, extending Niittymaki's franchise-record losing streak to 10 games. Niittymaki is the first NHL goaltender with a double-digit losing streak since Sebastien Caron dropped 11 consecutive decisions for the Penguins in the 2003-04 season.
• The Coyotes beat the Blackhawks 4-2 in Chicago, giving Phoenix a perfect 4-0-0 record on its current five-game road trip that concludes at Dallas on Tuesday. It's only the third time in Jets/Coyotes history that they've won four consecutive games on one road trip. Winnipeg did that in January 1987, and Phoenix did it in January 2004. They have never won five straight games on a single road trip.
• Nikolai Khabibulin was the goaltender in the Blackhawks' loss, allowing four goals to the Coyotes on Sunday. Khabibulin had allowed only eight goals for a 1.12 goal-against average in seven previous appearances against the team with which he played his first five seasons in the NHL.
• A pair of subs were the high scorers for the Suns in their 128-105 win over the Warriors. Leandro Barbosa scored 26 points, and James Jones scored 25. It was the first time in 13 years that two players came off the bench to score 25 or more points in a regulation-time victory. The last teammates to do so were Reggie Jordan (28) and James Worthy (26) for the Lakers in a 1994 win over the Jazz.
• Manu Ginobili scored 34 points in the Spurs' 110-96 win at Memphis. It was Ginobili's third consecutive game scoring 25 or more points, the longest such streak by a Spurs guard since 1986, when Alvin Robertson posted a three-game streak.
• The Timberwolves defeated the Rockets 103-99 to post their third consecutive win, all in overtime. Minnesota is the sixth team in NBA history to play three straight overtime games and win them all. The last was the Hawks in 1997.
• "Gilbert Arenas, please select."
"I'll take 'Poor Excuses' for $1,000, Alex."
"The answer is, 'Why the Wizards lost Sunday's game at Toronto.' Gilbert?"
"What is, 'Because of the 1 p.m. local start?'" (Note to readers: Arenas really did blame his team's loss on the early starting time, saying, "I don't think we've ever played well [in] 1 o'clock games.")
"Oh, I'm sorry, Gilbert. But the Wizards have actually won six of the 12 games that started at 1 p.m. or earlier since you joined the team. And Gilbert, you've averaged only 22.7 points per game in those contests."
"That was mean, Alex."
• Randy Johnson agreed to a two-year contract with the Diamondbacks on Sunday. Only five pitchers in major-league history have won as many as 10 games in a season at age 44 or older: Nolan Ryan (1991), Tommy John (1987), Phil Niekro (1983-1986), Satchel Paige (1952) and Jack Quinn (1928-1929). Johnson will turn 44 in September.