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 12 of NFL play:
15-0: Divisional record for four AFC division leaders
New England (8-3) is 4-0 in the AFC East after a dominating performance against the Jets on Thanksgiving night. The Patriots still have two games left with the pesky Miami Dolphins (5-6). The Denver Broncos (8-3) also moved to 4-0 in the AFC West with their win over lowly Kansas City. A road trip to Oakland and the Chiefs at home is what still awaits Peyton Manning, who already has a four-game lead in the West. Baltimore (9-2) is 4-0 in the AFC North, and after a Pittsburgh (6-5) loss to Cleveland (3-8), the Ravens have a three-game lead over both the Bengals and Steelers. They still have to face Pittsburgh at home and finish the season with a tricky road trip to Cincinnati (6-5). Finally, the Houston Texans (10-1) have a 3-0 mark in the South with two remaining against the Colts (7-4) and one with the Titans (4-7). The top four seeds are all but locked into place in the AFC.
10:0: Andy Dalton's TD:Turnover ratio in Bengals three-game winning streak
Through eight games, Andy Dalton had thrown at least one interception in every game, had turned the ball over a total of 13 times and the Bengals were 3-5 in the standings. Since then, the second-year quarterback out of TCU has led his team to three straight wins and has Cincinnati tied with Pittsburgh for the final Wild Card playoff spot currently. He has accounted for 10 total touchdowns without a single turnover of any kind during the winning streak, including nary an interception in 89 pass attempts. The red-headed quarterback has scored 25 total touchdowns already this season (23 pass, 2 rush) which is four more than his 21 as a rookie (20 pass, 1 rush).
7: Ryan Lindley became the seventh rookie QB to start a game in 2012
Eleven quarterbacks were taken in the 2012 NFL Draft. The four first-round picks — Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden — have been starting since Week 1. Luck and Griffin have lived up to their billing and then some. Russell Wilson was taken in the third round and has been more than impressive in Seattle. Nick Foles was taken in the third round as well and has replaced Michael Vick (concussion) as the starter in Philadelphia. And now Ryan Lindley got his first career start for Arizona this Sunday after being drafted in the sixth round out of San Diego State. He threw for 312 yards on 52 attempts in his debut, but also tossed four interceptions. Additionally, Kirk Cousins threw a go-ahead second-half 77-yard touchdown pass against the Falcons in spot duty for RG3 earlier this season. Brock Osweiler and BJ Coleman both play behind Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers whom rarely take a snap off. That leaves Mr. Irrelevant Chandler Harnish as the final QB taken in the 2012 class by the Colts.
4th and 29: Game-saving conversion with 1:59 left for the Ravens
With 1:59 left in the fourth quarter in San Diego, Joe Flacco and the Ravens faced a 4th and 29 trailing by three points. He checked down to Ray Rice to his right before the star tailback cut back all the way across the field and powered forward to pick up one more yard than was needed. The improbable conversion on the final drive of the game led to a game-tying field goal. Once in overtime, the Ravens got a stop and then put together a 12-play, 58-yard game-winning drive that ended in a Justin Tucker field goal. The win give the Ravens a commanding three-game AFC North lead and could have sealed Norv Turner's fate as the head coach in San Diego.
30.5: Aldon Smith's career sacks in first two seasons
Reggie White owns the NFL record for sacks in the first years of a player's career with 30 (13.0 and 18.0) back in 1985 and 1986. Aldon Smith posted 1.5 sacks in the big road win over New Orleans this Sunday, bringing his total to a league-leading 16.5 QB takedowns. After 14.0 as a rookie, Smith is poised to shatter White's all-time mark through two seasons. He has 12.0 sacks in his last five games and is on pace for 24.0 this fall — which would also break the NFL single-season record set by Michael Strahan (22.5) in 2001.
200: Eli Manning's Giants franchise record for passing TDs
The Giants stopped one of the hottest teams dead in its tracks with their Sunday night thumping of the Green Bay Packers. Eli Manning completed 16-of-30 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns in the big home win. With those three passing strikes, Manning has now thrown more touchdown passes than any New York Giant in history. Phil Simms held the previous record with 199.
56: Marques Colston's Saints franchise record for TDs scored
Running back Deuce McAllister scored 55 total touchdowns (49 rushing, 5 receiving, 1 fumble recovery) in his 97-game, eight-year New Orleans Saints career. Marques Colston, in not even seven full seasons but also his 97th career game as a Saint, scored his 56th touchdown to pass McAllister on the New Orleans all-time touchdowns list. Colston's 6,997 receiving yards are third all-time behind Eric Martin (7,854) and he is third all-time in receptions with 504 behind only Martin's 532. He should own both of these records in the very near future.