Essentials from Sunday: Big-time QBs dominant

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers showed once again why they are the best in the business, despite different ways of winning on Sunday. Plus, get the big milestones of the Week 12 so far.

The big-name quarterbacks showed, once again, why they are considered the best in the league … and have been for years.

Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers – all with passer ratings over 100 for the season – all led their division-leading teams to wins with continued strong performances.

  • Brady led the New England Patriots to 34-9 win against the former leader in the NFC North, the Detroit Lions. For the Patriots, who moved to 9-2, it was their 14th consecutive winning season, becoming the sixth team in the NFL with at least 14 consecutive winning seasons and the first to do so since the San Francisco 49ers (1983-98, 16 seasons). After beating the Denver Broncos 43-21 and Indianapolis Colts 42-20 in the previous two weeks, the Patriots’ win over the Lions made them the first team in NFL history to win three straight games by 20 or more points, each against an opponent with a record at least three games above the .500 mark, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

  • Manning led the Broncos to a 39-36 comeback win against the Miami Dolphins, becoming the third player in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass in at least 50 consecutive games, joining Drew Brees (54) and, of course, Brady (52). Manning threw four touchdown passes as Denver scored 22 unanswered points. The Broncos lost to the St. Louis Rams last week, and in his last eight games following a loss Manning has averaged 360 yards, four touchdowns and a 117.8 passer rating, per Elias.

    In Sunday’s win, Wes Welker recorded his 50th career touchdown catch, joining Antonio Gates and Rod Smith as the only undrafted players with at least 50 touchdown catches since 1967. Gates has 96 and Smith had 68.

  • Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers didn’t keep their two-game streak of scoring at least 50 points intact, but Rodgers was efficient enough in a 24-21 win over the Minnesota Vikings to move the Packers to 8-3 and into sole possession of first place in the NFC North. In seven road games against the Vikings, Rodgers has thrown 17 touchdowns, one interception and has a 123 passer rating. According to Elias, the only player with a higher rating than that in road games against any NFL team is Ken Anderson with a 129.2 mark against the Colts.

    Rodgers had plenty of help from RB Eddie Lacy, who rushed for 125 yards on 25 carries, with a touchdown receiving and rushing. Lacy is the first Packers running back to record at least 100 scrimmage yards and a receiving touchdown in three consecutive games in franchise history. The only other players with two 100-yard rushing games against Minnesota in the same season were Gale Sayers (1968), Walter Payton (1977 and 1979), Billy Sims (1981), and Barry Sanders (1991, 1996, and 1997), according to Elias.

  • Tony Romo has also found a divisional opponent he likes playing. In a 31-28 comeback win against the New York Giants, Romo threw four touchdowns, including a 13-yarder to Dez Bryant with 61 seconds left. It was the fourth time Romo has had at least four touchdown passes for the Dallas Cowboys against the Giants. Surprisingly, according to Elias, Bryant had never before caught a game-winning touchdown passes in the final 5 minutes of the fourth quarter.

  • Also in the NFC East, the jury is still out on Philadelphia Eagles QB Mark Sanchez, but he appears to be a good fit in Chip Kelly’s offense. After throwing for 307 yards Sunday, Sanchez now has passed for more than 300 yards in each of his first three starts with Philadelphia, joining Wade Wilson (Atlanta, 1992) and Mark Rypien (St. Louis, 1995) as the only QBs to reach the 300-yard mark in their first three starts with a team.

    Josh Huff helped Philadelphia earn its 43-24 win over the Tennessee Titans when he returned the opening kickoff 107 yards for a touchdown, joining Chris Polk among Eagles who scored a kickoff return of at least 100 yards this year. Philadelphia is the first team since the 1970 Packers to have multiple players with kickoff returns of 100 yards or more in a one season. Nine different Eagles have now scored a return touchdown, tied for the most in a single season in NFL history.

  • With 89 yards rushing and five receptions in the Chicago Bears' 21-13 win over Tampa Bay, Matt Forte made it his seventh consecutive season with 800 yards rushing and 40 receptions, joining LaDainian Tomlinson as the only players in NFL history to start a career with seven seasons in a row with at least 800 rushing yards and 40 catches.
    With 7,488 rushing yards and 3,517 receiving yards in 102 career games, Forte is the third-fastest player in NFL history to reach 7,000 rushing yards and 3,500 receiving yards, bested only by Marshall Faulk (97 games) and Marcus Allen (99) that have reached the milestone in fewer games.

  • Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson has now won 20 of his first 22 home games, tied for the fewest starts needed to reach 20 regular-season wins at home among quarterbacks who began their careers in the Super Bowl era. He joined Matt Ryan, Marc Bulger and Danny White on that list.

  • The Indianapolis Colts disproved the NFL adage that teams have to win the turnover battle to have a good chance at winning. The Colts fumbled the ball six times, losing three of them, yet still managed to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-3. According to Elias, that’s the largest margin of victory by a team with at least six fumbles since 1997, when Tampa Bay committed six fumbles in a 27-7 win over New England. Yeah, times have changed for the Patriots and Bucs since then.

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