Highlighting the most important, intriguing and bizarre stats of the weekend.
NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.
Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 11 of NFL play:
7: Return touchdowns allowed by Detroit, the most in the NFL
The Lions lost in heart-breaking fashion to the rival Packers due in large part to a big momentum swing on a Matthew Stafford interception. With the Packers trailing in the third quarter, M.D. Jennings picked off the Lions' quarterback and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown and the lead. The INT return for a touchdown was the second such return of the year and an NFL-high seventh total return TD — two punt returns, two kick returns, two interceptions returns and one fumble return — against the Lions. Stafford was sacked five times and his offense turned the ball over four times. The Lions own the worst division record in the NFL thus far at 0-4 against NFC North teams.
Sept. 24, 1967: Last time a QB threw 5 INT and 0 TD in a win
Matt Ryan completed 28-of-46 passes for 301 yards, no touchdowns and five interceptions. But since the inept Arizona offense couldn't score touchdowns either, Atlanta won the game despite Ryan's 0:5 TD:INT ratio. When was the last time a quarterback threw at least five interceptions and no touchdowns in a win you ask? Bart Starr went 10-of-19 for 113 yards, no scores and five picks in a 13-10 win over the Bears on Sept. 24, 1967. In case Falcons fans didn't know, Green Bay won the Super Bowl that year as well.
1: Incompletions thrown by Robert Griffin III
The 4-6 Redskins kept their slim playoff lights flickering with a dominant performance against Andy Reid and his reeling Eagles. RG3 was 14-of-15 for 200 yards and four touchdown passes, one in each quarter, in the 31-6 division win. He also rushed for 84 yards on 12 carries. Rookie quarterback Nick Foles struggled for the Eagles in place of Michael Vick and Washington snapped a bizarre losing streak. The Skins had lost eight straight games to rookie quarterbacks dating back to 2006.
273: Career-high yards receiving for Andre Johnson
This one is a lay-up. The great Andre Johnson caught a personal-best 14 passes for a personal-best 273 yards and the game-winning 48-yard touchdown catch and run. It was his 41st 100-yard receiving game in his illustrious Texans career. He has 766 catches for 10,526 yards and 55 touchdowns in his career. Imagine what his numbers would be if he hadn't missed 21 games over the last seven seasons. Matt Schaub's 527 yards passing were second all-time in a single game behind only Norm Van Brocklin's 554 yards in 1951. He tied Warren Moon's 527-yard performance from 1990. Schaub also set a Texans' record with 43 completions.
0.88: Rob Gronkowski's career touchdowns per game
The big Patriots tight end has been a touchdown machine since entering the league three seasons ago. He was targeted seven times in the win over the Colts and he caught all seven Tom Brady offerings for 137 yards and two more touchdowns. He now has 10 on the season and at least 10 in all three of his NFL seasons. That gives him 37 touchdown catches in 42 career games, for an average of 0.88 TD/game. Jerry Rice caught an NFL-record 197 TD in 303 games for an average rate of 0.65 TD/game. Randy Moss's 155 TD are No. 2 all-time and his TD rate was 0.73 per game. Terrell Owens is No. 3 all-time with 153 touchdowns in 219 games, or an 0.69 average. Gronkowski is on pace to get to 100 touchdowns — something only eight players have ever done — in just 114 games, or just a few weeks into his seventh NFL season. The Patriots' 59 points scored against Indianapolis tied a franchise record. Unfortunately, The Gronk also suffered a broken forearm and will likely miss 3-6 weeks.
11+ Points: Leads Cleveland, Jacksonville and Carolina gave up
With six minutes to go in the game, Cam Newton and the Panthers led Tampa Bay by 11 points. With 12:33 left to go in the game, Jacksonville had a 14-point lead on Houston. And the Dallas Cowboys trailed 13-0 to Cleveland with a few minutes left in the third quarter when they finally got onto the scoreboard with a field goal. All three teams choked away a double-digit second-half lead on Sunday. That is why these three teams have a combined record of 5-25 on the year and why they have one combined playoff win since 2005. The Browns set a franchise record with their 12th consecutive road loss.
423: Peyton Manning career touchdown passes
With three more touchdown passes in a key division win over San Diego, Manning has moved past Dan Marino for second all-time in passing touchdowns. Since a horrible first quarter in Atlanta back in Week 2 in which he threw three interceptions, Manning has 22 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. Denver has won five out of seven since the loss to Atlanta and the Broncos have taken a commanding three-game lead in the division. Manning is second only to Brett Favre's 508 touchdown passes. Manning also tied his boss, Broncos' Executive VP of Football Operations John Elway, for second place on the all-time list for victories in the regular season with No. 148. He needs 39 wins to break Favre's record of 186.
4-1: Joe Flacco's record against the Steelers in his last five
He has been often scrutinized, but Joe Flacco could be taking the next step in his development. He continues to show improved numbers year after year, he takes his team to the playoffs, has won five postseason games in four years and is now beating the Steelers on a regular basis. At least in the regular season. Flacco has won four of the last five meetings and five of the last seven with the arch-rival Steelers. He has also won three straight in the Steel City. No, Ben Roethlisberger didn't play and, no, Flacco hasn't beaten Pittsburgh in the playoffs yet (0-2). But this three-week stretch is likely going to determine the final AFC North standings as these two rivals will face-off twice. What's more, round one has gone the way of Flacco and the Ravens — giving Baltimore a commanding two-game lead in the division.