Essentials from Sunday: NFL's undefeated QBs

The undefeated NFL teams are getting it done thanks in large part to tremendous quarterback play (Peyton Manning being the exception).

Aaron Rodgers continues to pile up records.

On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers’ star quarterback became the quickest to 30,000 career passing yards, reaching that mark in 3,652 passing attempts, 43 fewer pass attempts than it took Johnny Unitas to get to 30,000 yards.

Rodgers had 255 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a 107.7 passer rating against the San Diego Chargers, but Philip Rivers did his best in a close attempt to knock off the undefeated Packers.

Rivers threw a whopping 65 times, completing 66.2 percent of them for 503 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in his 150th consecutive game, only the fourth time in NFL history a quarterback has played 150 straight games, joining Brett Favre, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning.

Rivers’ 65 attempts, 43 completions and 503 yards were all franchise records for the Chargers. His 503 yards passing were the second-most by a visiting quarterback at Lambeau Field, according to Elias Sports Bureau. (Matthew Stafford had 520 there on New Year’s Day 2012.)

Cam Newton kept the Carolina Panthers undefeated, throwing the game-winning touchdown pass against the Seattle Seahawks with 32 seconds remaining. Newton also ran for a touchdown, the 27th time in his career he has run for a touchdown and thrown a touchdown in the same game, already the second-most games by a single quarterback in NFL history. Steve Young holds that record at 31 such games. The last touchdown of the game went to Panthers tight end Greg Olsen on a 26-yard pass in the 27-23 Carolina win. Olsen had 131 yards receiving and Seattle tight end Jimmy Graham had 140 yards, making it the first time in 50 years of NFL football that a tight end from each team gained at least 130 yards receiving, according to Elias.

Three other quarterbacks kept their teams undefeated on Sunday. Peyton Manning threw three interceptions, but he also led the Broncos to a 6-0 start, the sixth time Manning has been 6-0 in his career, the most of any starting quarterback in NFL history. But the Broncos are doing mostly with defense, and cornerback Aqib Talib played a big part with 63-yard interception return for a touchdown, becoming the 10th player in NFL history with at least eight career interception returns for touchdowns. Four of Talib’s pick-sixes have come since joining the Broncos in 2013, tying him for the franchise record. But Manning is the fifth player in NFL history to throw at least 10 interceptions while his team won each of its first six games, according to Elias.

Andy Dalton also moved the Cincinnati Bengals to 6-0, equaling their best start in team history (1975, 1988). Their 34-21 win over the Buffalo Bills means the Bengals are the first team in the AFC North to start a season 6-0 since NFL realignment in 2002. Dalton did it with 243 yards passing, three touchdowns and no interceptions, and it was his 22nd career road win, trailing only Dan Marino (23), Ben Roethlisberger (23) and Matt Ryan (23) for road wins in a quarterback’s first five seasons in the Super Bowl era. He also wasn’t sacked, which was the first time in 33 homes that the Bills didn’t record a sack, ending a Buffalo franchise record.

Tom Brady was efficient enough Sunday night for the New England Patriots to remain undefeated, as he completed 23 of 37 passes for 312 yards, three touchdowns and an interception for a 104.8 rating in a 34-27 win over the Indianapolis Colts in a rematch of the DeflateGate teams. Brady and Colts QB Andrew Luck both had 312 yards passing, but Luck needed 50 attempts to get there.

The Pittsburgh Steelers ended up going to third-string quarterback Landry Jones after Michael Vick injured his hamstring, but Jones helped make WR Martavis Bryant’s day. Bryant had six catches for 137 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown in the Steelers’ 25-13 win against the Arizona Cardinals. It was the second touchdown of 88 yards or longer for Bryant in his first two seasons, the second player in NFL history to do that, joining Gus Tinsley (Chicago Cardinals, 1937-38).


DeAndre Hopkins continues on his tear for the Houston Texans. The receiver had 10 catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-20 over Jacksonville, becoming the first player in NFL history with at least nine catches and 145 yards receiving in three consecutive games.  

Brandon Marshall has been nearly as effective for the New York Jets. He had seven catches for 111 yards in the New York Jets’ win over the Washington Redskins, marking the fourth consecutive game he has had at least 100 yards receiving. That’s the first time a Jets receiver has done that since Don Maynard in 1968.

 


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