Essentials from Sunday: Big-number QBs

The best quarterbacks in the NFL were doing what they do best on Sunday – tearing through defenses for big yards and plenty of touchdowns in record fashion.

By land or by air, the top quarterbacks of the NFL were back at it on Sunday, picking up wins in the waning seconds (Matthew Stafford), using their legs and arm (Russell Wilson), or simply blowing out a division opponent (Aaron Rodgers).

Stafford continued his leading role with the Comeback Cats. He threw a game-winning, 11-yard touchdown pass to running back Theo Riddick with 29 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of the Detroit Lions’ 20-16 win against the Miami Dolphins, giving Detroit the game-winning points in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter in each of its past three games, becoming the first team to do so since the 1994 New York Giants.

Stafford, who passed for 280 yards and two touchdowns, has 19,953 career passing yards in 70 games, the most of any player in NFL history in his first 70 games, besting former Miami Dolphins QB Dan Marino, who held the previous mark with 19,179 yards in his first 70 games. Stafford’s 122 career touchdown passes are tied with former Indianapolis Colts QB Johnny Unitas for the fourth-most of any player through 70 career games.

Hours later, on Sunday night, Stafford’s NFC North rival Rodgers became the second quarterback in NFL history to throw six TD passes in one half, joining Daryle Lamonica of the Oakland Raiders, who did it against the Bills in 1969, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Rodgers was the sixth player with three TD passes of 40-plus yards in the same quarter in the Packers’ 55-14 blowout of the Chicago Bears, joining Sonny Jurgensen (1962), Jack Concannon (1967), Jim Hart (1968), Randall Cunningham (1998), and Tony Banks (1999).

Rodgers threw 10 touchdown passes against the Bears this season, two short of Adrian Burk’s NFL record (12 TDs against the Redskins in 1954), according to Elias. Rodgers was the first player with 10 TD passes in a season versus one team since Marino threw 10 against the Jets in 1986, and he was the first ever with 10 TD passes and no interceptions against one team in a season.

Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson was showing off his versatility in a 38-17 win over the New York Giants, passing for 172 yards and adding 107 rushing yards with one touchdown, marking his third 100-yard rushing performance this season. The Seahawks are the first team in NFL history to have a running back rush for at least four touchdowns and a quarterback with more than 100 rushing yards in the same game.

Wilson joined Michael Vick (2004 and 2006) as the only quarterbacks with at least three 100-yard rushing games in a season in the Super Bowl era (since 1966).

In a 41-17 win over the Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning threw five touchdowns, marking his 48th consecutive game with a touchdown pass, surpassing Unitas (47) for the third-longest streak in NFL history.

Manning also passed Brett Favre with 44 career touchdown passes of 50 yards or more, the most of any quarterback in NFL history, when he hit RB C.J. Anderson for a 51-yard touchdown play.

In that blowout win, Broncos TE Julius Thomas had two touchdown catches and became the first tight end in NFL history with back-to-back 12-touchdown seasons.

Other standout performances from Sunday:

  • The Arizona Cardinals improved to 8-1 for the first time since 1948 and the third time in franchise history (1925, 1948 and 2014). It is also the first time the Cardinals have owned the best record in the NFL after nine games since 1966.

  • This is also the first time in NFL history that the Lions (7-2) and Cardinals (8-1) have been at least five games above .500 simultaneously, according to Elias.

  • When the Baltimore Ravens beat the Tennessee Titans 21-7, they moved to 6-4, making every team in the AFC North at least two games above .500, the first time any division has done that at any point in the season since the 1935 NFL Western Division.

  • Dallas Cowboys RB DeMarco Murray rushed for 100 yards in a 31-17 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars at London’s Wembley Stadium, becoming the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 100 yards in nine of his team’s first 10 games to begin a season.

  • When New York Jets QB Michael Vick rushed for 39 yards and passed for 132 yards in a 20-13 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Vick ran past the 6,000-yard rushing mark, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to break that barrier.

  • It wasn’t all good Sunday. Jacksonville became the first team in NFL history to lose at least nine of its first 10 games in three consecutive seasons, according to Elias.

  • The San Francisco 49ers’ 27-24 win over the New Orleans Saints marked the first time in 20 games that Drew Brees lost at home with Sean Payton as his head coach, the longest streak of its type since Tom Brady and Bill Belichick won 31 straight home games from 2006 to 2011, according to Elias.

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