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Highlighting the most important, bizarre, strange, interesting and historic stats from this week in the NFL.
Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.
Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.
With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from Week 12 of the NFL season:
10-4: Tom Brady’s record against Peyton Manning
Among Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, only Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas have faced each other more times (16) than Peyton Manning and Tom Brady (14). With one of the most epic comebacks in NFL history — down 24-0 three minutes into the third quarter — Brady moved his all-time record against Manning to 10-4. Manning posted the worst game of his season, throwing 19-of-36 passes for 150 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while Brady had arguably the best game of his season, completing 34-of-50 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. To cap off one of the most memorable games in NFL history, Bill Belichick elected to take the wind and give the ball to Peyton Manning to start overtime... and it worked.
11: Tony Romo fourth quarter/overtime game-winning drives since 2011
Since the start of the 2011 season, no quarterback in the NFL has more fourth-quarter or overtime game-winning drives than Tony Romo’s 11. Dallas got the ball back with 4:45 left in a tie game on the road against the surging Giants. Romo then led a 14-play, 64-yard drive in which he completed six of eight passes to set up Dan Bailey's game-winning 35-yard field goal. The win puts the Cowboys in first place by virtue of a tiebreaker over the Eagles in the NFC East (as it stands today). With 250 yards and two touchdowns, Romo became the only Dallas quarterback in history with 200 TD passes. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Matthew Stafford and Andrew Luck are tied for second in the NFL with 10 game-winning fourth quarter or overtime drives since the start of the 2011 season.
1978 and 1987: Years Minnesota and Green Bay last posted a tie
The Packers and Vikings played 75 minutes of football on Sunday and accomplished absolutely nothing as the game ended in a 26-26 tie. It was the first tie for Minnesota since a 10-10 decision on Nov. 26, 1978 against… the Packers. The Vikings finished 8-7-1 in ’78 and actually won the NFC Central over the 8-7-1 Packers and made the playoffs based on the tie-breaking win over Green Bay earlier in the year. The Packers’ last tie came in a 17-17 affair with Denver on Sept. 20, 1987. Had the Pats-Broncos game ended in a tie (which it almost did), the NFL would have had two ties on the same day for the first time since Week 2 of 1973. There were seven ties in the ’73 season.
100: Career games for Adrian Peterson
All-Day Peterson rushed 32 times for 146 yards and a touchdown against the Packers in his 100th career game. He has 9,846 yards rushing in his career, giving him the third-most yards in NFL history for a player in his first 100 games. Only Eric Dickerson (10,818) and Jim Brown (10,403) had more yards rushing in their first 100 career games. His 86 rushing touchdowns are fifth-most all-time behind Emmitt Smith (103), LaDainian Tomlinson (102), Shaun Alexander (91) and Jim Brown (88) for a player in their first 100 games. It also marked Peterson’s seventh season with at least 10 rushing touchdowns, trailing only Tomlinson (9) and Smith (8) in that category.
11,019: Larry Fitzgerald's career receiving yards
With five receptions for 52 yards and two touchdowns in the Cardinals impressive 40-11 beat down of Indianapolis, Fitzgerald became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 yards receiving. At 30 years and 85 days of age, Fitz passed Randy Moss’ previous record of 30 years and 222 days. A month ago, the Cardinals' star wide receiver also became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 800 career catches (30 years, 57 days). Fitzgerald’s 11,019 yards rank 29th all-time in NFL history.
93-12: Colts' combined halftime deficit over the last four games
The Colts were down 27-3 at halftime against Arizona and never had a chance in the second half. Unfortunately, trailing big at halftime is a developing trend in Indianapolis. Over the last four games, the Colts has given up 93 first-half points while scoring just four field goals. That’s an average halftime score of 23-3. The first quarter has been even worse, as the Colts have been outscored 42-3 in the first 15 minutes during the same span. The Colts' last first-half touchdown came with 10 seconds left in the second quarter against Denver in Week 7. The only saving grace for Andrew Luck and the boys in blue is that Indy has somehow figured out a way to win two of those four games. It is a trend that cannot continue if the Colts want to win the AFC South, much less a playoff game.
209.7: Cam Newton's passing yards per game over his last seven contests
The Carolina Panthers were trailing 16-3 on the road against the Dolphins with less than a minute left in the first half. Cam Newton led two second-half touchdown drives, including one that ended with a game-winning, one-yard touchdown pass to Greg Olsen with 43 seconds left to play. It was the Panthers' seventh straight win but what is more impressive is how Carolina is winning. Newton has only averaged 209.7 yards passing per game during the seven-game streak. In the modern era of passing, that 209.7 average would currently rank 30th in the NFL behind names like Chad Henne, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mike Glennon and Case Keenum.
6: Teams tied for the final AFC Wild Card position
The Chargers (Chiefs), Titans (Raiders) and Steelers (Browns) all won key road games to move to 5-6 in the standings. The Ravens (Jets) won at home to do the same while the Jets and the Dolphins lost to fall to 5-6. It means that all six teams are tied for the final AFC Wild Card spot with no hope of a second team from this group making the postseason. The Titans currently own the tiebreaker due to straight up wins over the Jets, Steelers and Chargers while Pittsburgh and Baltimore sit at seventh and eighth in the AFC respectively. To put into perspective how mediocre the AFC is in 2013, the Titans would be 11th in the NFC right now at 5-6.
5-1: Jacksonville's and Tampa Bay's combined record over the last three weeks
The Bucs and Jags began the season a combined 0-16 by dropping their first eight of the 2013 campaign. Since Week 10, the Bucs have beaten the AFC Wild Card-hopeful Miami Dolphins, the defending NFC South champion Falcons and the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions on the road to win three straight. The Jags' first win came against the Titans, who currently hold the final AFC Wild Card spot, in Week 10, and they just topped the defending AFC South champion Texans on the road this past Sunday. A few weeks ago these two teams were battling for historic NFL ineptitude and now the Falcons, Texans and Vikings would all be picking ahead of them in the May NFL Draft.