Essentials from Sunday: Extending the NFL streaks

Four teams are 5-0 and two more are 4-0, and they needed some impressive performances to help them get there.

After five weeks of the NFL season, four teams are 5-0, and the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers are 4-0.

Were it not for a bye week for the Patriots and Panthers, 2015 could have tied or set the NFL record for most 5-0 teams. That mark is five teams, set in 2009.

To get there, it took some impressive performances from individual players, but not all of the best from Sunday came from the 5-0 teams – the Atlanta Falcons, Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers – but let’s start there.

  • The Falcons are the first team in NFL history to start 5-0 with four of those wins coming when trailing in the fourth quarter. Running back Devonta Freeman has been a big reason for the Falcons’ success. On Sunday, he rushed for 153 yards and touchdown in his third career start. He is the first player in the Super Bowl era (since 1966) to rush for at least seven touchdowns in his first three starts to begin a career, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
  • But even with Freeman’s performance Sunday, the Falcons needed a Robert Alford 59-yard interception return for a touchdown in overtime for the win, and it was the longest interception-return touchdown in an overtime game since 1995 and only the second interception for a touchdown in overtime in the last 10 NFL seasons.
  • Packers QB Aaron Rodgers ended his home streak of 586 passes without an interception – throwing two of them at Lambeau Field on Sunday – but he also threw two touchdown passes, including a 65-yarder to James Jones in a 24-10 win over the St. Louis Rams. Since he was named the starter in 2008, Rodgers has 31 touchdown passes of at least 50 yards, the most in that time frame.
  • Josh McCown has put together his own impressive streak, albeit much shorter, for the Cleveland Browns. He threw for 457 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 33-30 win over the Baltimore Ravens, setting the franchise record for passing yards in a game. He now has three consecutive games with at least 300 yards passing.
  • Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor is getting it done as much with his legs at his arm, and on Sunday he also showed off his hands as a receiver. He had 109 yards passing and 76 yards rushing, but his reception on the game-winning drive made him one of five players in NFL history (and the second since 1966) with at least 100 yards passing (109), 70 yards rushing (76) and a reception in the same game. He is the first since Randall Cunningham in 1987.
  •  Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson had two rushing touchdowns in the Cardinals’ 42-17 win over the Detroit Lions and now has three rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns and a kickoff-return touchdown this season, becoming the first rookie since Gale Sayers to have multiple rushing touchdowns, multiple receiving touchdowns and a kickoff-return touchdown in his team’s first five games of a season.
  • Cardinals QB Carson Palmer pushed his record as a starter with Arizona to 17-3 over the last 20 games, only the second quarterback in Cardinals history with a 17-3 record over a 20-game stretch, according to Elias, joining Jim Hart (St. Louis Cardinals, 1975-76).
  • St. Louis Rams rookie Todd Gurley rushed for 159 yards in the loss to Green Bay, but it was his second straight 100-yard rushing performance on the road after going for 146 yards against the Cardinals. Only three other rookies rushed for at least 140 yards in consecutive road games, the last time coming with the Broncos’ Mike Anderson in 2000.
  • From rookie to old men. Oakland Raiders safety Charles Woodson had two interceptions in a loss to the Denver Broncos, becoming the only player in NFL history with two interceptions in a game at 39 years old or older. He turned 39 on Oct. 7, and is one of only three players with an interception at 39 or older, joining Darrell Green and Clay Matthews, Jr.  Woodson is also the oldest players in NFL history with interceptions in three straight games, according to Elias, and now has 64 career interceptions, which is tied with Ed Reed for sixth on the all-time list.
  • Of the 12 games played Sunday, 10 of the winning teams needed to overcome a deficit, tied for the highest number of comebacks wins in NFL history when 12 or fewer games were played, according to Elias.
  • The Bengals, one of the four 5-0 teams, outscored the Seattle Seahawks 17-0 in the fourth quarter in Cincinnati’s 27-24 overtime win. It was the only the third victory in NFL history in which a team erased a fourth-quarter deficit of 17 points or more against a defending Super Bowl entrant (winner or loser), according to Elias.
  • In that Bengals-Seahawks game, Seattle rookie Thomas Rawls rushed for 169 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown. Only one other undrafted rookie over the last 50 years had a touchdown run longer than Rawls – Dominic Rhodes in 2001 (77 yards). Only two undrafted rookies – Rhodes and Green Bay’s Samkon Gado – had more than Rawls’ 169 yards rushing in a single game over the last 50 years, according to Elias.
  • The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the futility bowl. According to Elias, the Bucs’ 38-31 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars was the first game in NFL history in which the host had lost its previous 10 games and the visitor had lost its last 10 road games. It snapped Tampa Bay’s 11-game home losing streak and extended Jacksonville’s road losing streak to 12 games.


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