Highlighting the most important, bizarre, strange, interesting and historic stats from this week in the NFL.
Winning games and breaking records becomes secondary in short order when our loved one's health become a concern. So the most important stat from Week 9 in the NFL is that two NFL families — Denver and Houston — are focused on the health of their head coaches. The Broncos' John Fox will undergo heart valve replacement surgery and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season, at minimum. The Texans' Gary Kubiak had a scary episode at halftime of Sunday night's game with the Colts and was taken to the hospital. Both men are doing fine and should recover safely.
So no matter how important, interesting, historic and bizarre thet stats are from Week 9, two is the biggest number of the weekend. However, here are some others to consider:
7: Nick Foles' NFL single-game record TD passes
Seven also is the number of quarterbacks in NFL history who have ever thrown seven touchdown passes in a game. Foles was electric against the Raiders, throwing for 406 yards, those seven scoring strikes and only six incompletions in the 49-20 win over Oakland. And he played in just one series in the fourth quarter. Foles joins Sid Luckman (1943), Adrian Burk (1954), George Blanda (1961), Y.A. Tittle (1962), Joe Kapp (1969) and Peyton Manning (2013) as the only players in history to accomplish the 7-TD trick. So after 43 seasons without a single seven-touchdown game, the 2013 season has featured two such performances. Seven also is the same number of passing touchdowns the Raiders have through eight games this season.
3: Overtime NFL safeties
The Dolphins, who had lost four straight since a 3-0 start, were leading 17-3 late in the third quarter on Thursday night. Andy Dalton and the Bengals rallied to send the game into overtime tied at 20. With 6:38 left in the extra frame, star end Cameron Wake made the play of the season for the Fish when he sacked Dalton in the end zone to end the game with a walk-off safety. Wake finished with 5.0 tackles, 2.0 TFL and 3.0 sacks. It was just the third such overtime safety in NFL history. The Bears beat the Titans 19-17 in 2004 and the Vikings topped the Rams 23-21 in 1989. Dalton finished with 338 yards passing, his fourth consecutive and eighth career 300-yard effort.
55 and 610: Steelers franchise-record points and yards allowed
The depleted Patriots offense has struggled for most of the 2013 season. New England hadn’t scored more than 30 points in any game and had failed to reach 300 yards of offense in three of its last four. Yet, against a historically stingy Steelers defense, the Pats exploded for 55 points and 610 yards of offense. It was the most points and yards a Pittsburgh team had allowed in franchise history. The Steelers (2-6) haven’t been ranked outside of the Top 20 in points allowed in a season since 1991 when they gave up 21.5 per game. It is currently 23rd in scoring defense at 26.0 ppg. Since Dick LeBeau took over as defensive coordinator in 2004, the Steelers have finished outside of the top six in points allowed just twice — 11th in 2006 and 12th in '09.
22-4: Tony Romo's career record in November
The Cowboys got the ball with 2:44 left in the game, trailing Minnesota by three. Romo led a nine-play, 90-yard touchdown drive to defeat the Vikings. It was his 22nd career win in 26 career starts in the month of November — the best record for a quarterback in the Super Bowl era (min. 20 starts). He finished with 337 yards passing and two touchdowns in the critical, come-from-behind win. Romo is fifth in the NFL in passing with 2,553 yards and third in touchdown passes with 20, while no one has attempted more passes than his 346.
8-33: Record of teams the Panthers have defeated
Cam Newton and the Panthers are 5-3 and poised to compete for a playoff spot this fall. Yet, the Panthers have yet to beat a team with a winning record, as the five teams Carolina has defeated are a collective 8-33. Tampa Bay (0-8), Minnesota (1-7), Atlanta (2-6) and the Giants (2-6) have combined to win four games in 27 tries. Only the Rams have more than two wins this fall (3-6). The record of teams the Panthers have lost to is a much more impressive 15-11, but even then the Panthers have played only one team with a winning record all season (Seattle).
21: Largest point deficit Seattle has ever overcome
With just over two minutes left in the first half, the winless Buccaneers had a 21-0 lead on the road against Seattle — due in large part to one of the plays of the year. Russell Wilson wasn’t fazed, however, as he led five scoring drives over the final 32 minutes of play to give the Seahawks their largest comeback victory in franchise history. The win gave Seattle its first-ever 8-1 start to a season and was Wilson’s 12th win in 12 home games. He is one of four players since the 1970 merger to start a career with 12 consecutive home wins.
$13.2 million: Josh Freeman and Matt Flynn combined 2013 salaries
According to spotrac.com, Josh Freeman will count for $8.43 million towards Tampa Bay’s salary cap this season and $2.83 million towards Minnesota’s. Matt Flynn is hitting Oakland’s cap for $1.2 million and Buffalo’s for $715,000. Both were healthy and able to play for the Vikings and Bills this weekend but neither took a snap. Instead, Jeff Tuel started for the Bills and Christian Ponder started for the Vikings. Tuel was 18-of-39 for 229 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for a QBR of 16.8. Ponder was 25-of-37 for 236 yards, one touchdown, one interception, one fumble and was sacked twice. That’s over $13 million worth of healthy quarterbacks sitting on the bench. There is a reason the Bills and Vikings are a combined 4-13 this season. To make matters worse, the Bills released Flynn on Monday, which means the team's investment in him was for naught.
0-5: Rob Ryan’s record against twin brother Rex
Rob Ryan has been coaching in the NFL since 1994. His twin brother, Rex, started coaching in the NFL the same year. After two decades, one is the head coach of the Jets and the other is the defensive coordinator for the Saints. They met for the fifth time this weekend where the Jets used a 17-point second quarter and motivated ex-Saint Chris Ivory (18 att., 139 yards, TD) to upset the Saints on Sunday in the New Meadowlands. With the win, Rex Ryan remained unbeaten in five games against his twin brother and has his Jets squarely in the AFC wild-card hunt. New York has alternated wins and losses in each of the first nine games, and with a loss next week, would become the first team in NFL history to alternate wins and losses in the first 10 games of a season.
10: Career game-winning drives led by Andrew Luck
In just his 24th career game, Luck performed yet another second-half miracle. The Colts' signal-caller threw three touchdown passes to T.Y. Hilton over the final 15:05 of game time to erase an 18-point Texans lead to earn the divisional road victory and give Luck his 10th career game-winning drive. That is one game-winning drive every 2.4 games played and puts Luck on pace to shatter the NFL record in less than eight seasons. Let’s put his fourth-quarter heroics into perspective by looking at the NFL's all-time leaders in game-winning drives. These are literally the greatest to ever play the game — and Luck's pace is obliterating all of them: