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 8 of NFL play:
12-of-16: Detroit's conversion rate on third down
The Seahawks (4-4) couldn't get off the field on third down when it had to and it allowed the Lions (3-4) to save its season. Matthew Stafford and company converted on 75% of its third down attempts, including three such conversions on the game-winning drive. To put into perspective the alarming rate of success on such a key down, only the Steelers are converting on third down more times than not (52%). Stafford finished 34-of-49 for 352 yards while accounting for four touchdowns in the big come-from-behind win. Sunday marked his ninth career fourth-quarter game-winning drive and the third such drive this season. Detroit has three wins this fall.
6: Consecutive drives Atlanta scored to open the game
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons (7-0) scored on their first six possessions, giving the NFL's last unbeaten team a commanding 30-10 lead three seconds into the final quarter. With 5:24 left in the fourth, an Atlanta drive ended in something other than points when the Falcons had to punt for the first time. It was Ryan's 50th career win in 69 career starts — tying him with Ben Roethlisberger as the second fastest quarterback in history to win 50 games (Tom Brady, 65). The Falcons are unbeaten when Ryan throws at least three touchdowns (15-0) and the 7-0 mark is the best start in franchise history. Bonus Stat: The Eagles lost following a bye week for the first time in 14 years. The 13-year win-after-a-bye-week streak was the longest in NFL history since the advent of the off week.
6: Interceptions returned for TDs by the Chicago Bears defense
Trailing by five points with less than seven minutes to go in the game, Cam Newton floated one to the left sideline into the waiting arms of Tim Jennings. He ran the short 25 yards into the endzone and gave the Bears (6-1) the lead over the Panthers (1-6). In seven games, the Bears defense has allowed eight total offensive touchdowns, while scoring six of their own. And two of those eight were a fake field goal by Green Bay and an offensive fumble recovery by Carolina. Newton is now 7-16 as a starter in the NFL while the Bears have won five straight.
14-3: Jets record when Mark Sanchez attempts 25 or fewer passes
The Jets' Mark Sanchez attempted the second-most passes of his career with 54 passes thrown on Sunday in the loss to the Dolphins (4-3). New York (3-5) is 7-11 when Sanchez throws at least 35 passes in a game. When he isn't needed to throw much, the Jets win at an startling rate. The J-E-T-S have never lost (6-0) when he throws fewer than 20 passes in a game and are 14-3 — including 3-0 in the playoffs — when throwing 25 or fewer attempts.
17: NFL record consecutive games the Patriots have topped 350 yards
With 473 yards of offense in the 45-7 win over the Rams (3-5) in London, the Patriots (5-3) passed the 1999-2000 St. Louis Rams for the all-time record for consecutive games of at least 350 total yards of offense. Tom Brady threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns in the easy win across the pond. It marked the 50th time Brady has thrown at least three touchdowns in a game, good for fourth all-time behind Brett Favre (72), Peyton Manning (67) and Dan Marino (62). Strangely enough, it was also his 50th career 300-yard passing game, good for seventh all-time.
7.7: Points allowed per game during Pittsburgh's six-game home winning streak
The Steelers (4-3) have won two straight games, three out of four and six straight at home. During the six-game home winning streak the defense has been absolutely stifling for Mike Tomlin, allowing less than eight points per game. Dating back until Week 13 of last fall, Pittsburgh hasn't allowed more than 14 points to any opponent. After holding Robert Griffin III and the Redskins (3-5) to 12 points, one offensive touchdown and 255 yards of offense, Tomlin has his team one game back of the depleted Baltimore Ravens.
1: Career games missed by Jason Witten
Despite the rough home loss to the division leading New York Giants (6-2), Jason Witten proved once again why he is one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. The last time Witten missed a game was Week 14 of his rookie season back in 2003 with a broken jaw. The Cowboys (3-4) tight end has played in 150 of 151 possible career games, starting 140 of those. He caught a career-high 18 passes for a career-high 167 yards in the loss and moved to within three catches of Dallas' all-time record holder Michael Irvin (750). Witten has 747 career receptions. It was his 16th 100-yard receiving effort.
.571: Andrew Luck's record rookie winning percentage
Through eight weeks of the season, no rookie No. 1 overall quarterback has ever posted a higher winning percentage than Andrew Luck's .571 (4-3). My weekly Bro-mance with Mr. Luck isn't diminishing anytime soon. Quite the contrary, it's only getting more ridiculous. Luck led the Colts on an 80-yard, 14-play, seven-minute drive that culminated in the game-tying touchdown with just more than three minutes left on the clock. Then on the first drive of overtime, Luck led another 80-yard drive, this time on nine plays over five minutes, to win the game on a 16-yard touchdown pass to Vick Ballard. He finished with 325 yards of total offense and the game-winning touchdown. The Titans have lost seven out of eight overall and seven of the last 10 in Nashville against the Colts.
- by Braden Gall