Essentials from Sunday: The NFL's unblemished best

The NFL has more top-end teams at this point in the season than ever before.

That’s the takeaway from Sunday as two of the undefeated teams left in the league won – the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers – and the other two had their bye weeks.

The Patriots beat the New York Jets 30-23 and the Panthers beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-16.

The Panthers are especially hot. Dating back to last year, they have won 10 straight games, the first time in franchise history that has happened and the longest NFL regular-season streak since the Broncos in 2012 and 2013. Eight NFL franchises have never had a double-digit regular-season winning streak, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

The Patriots got their win Sunday thanks to Tom Brady’s arm. He was called to pass on 86 percent of New England’s offensive plays, the highest percentage of passing plays by a winning team in NFL history, according to Elias.

Having five teams at 6-0 is a new record, but there were other records on Sunday.

  • Miami Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill had a perfect 158.3 passer rating in their 44-26 over the Houston Texans, completing 18 of 19 passes for 282 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. Tannehill completed his first 18 passes after finishing the previous week with seven straight completions, making it an NFL-record 25 consecutive completions to break Donovan McNabb’s record of 24 straight in 2004. Tannehill also threw three touchdowns passes of 50 yards or more in the first 16 minutes on Sunday, only the second quarterback to do that, according to Elias (Randall Cunningham, 1998).
  • Tannehill had help. RB Lamar Miller had a 54-yard touchdown reception and an 85-yard TD run in second quarter, joining Chris Johnson (2009) as the only players in NFL history with a touchdown reception of 85 yards or more and touchdown run of 50 yards or more. Miller is the only player to accomplish that feat in a single quarter.
  • Brady now has over 55,000 career passing yards after throwing for 355 yards against the Jets. He’s only the fifth QB in NFL history to reach that mark, joining Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Drew Brees. It was the 17th game of Brady’s career in which he had at least 350 yards, two touchdowns and no interception, more than any other player in NFL history.
  • Devonta Freeman is back at it. The Atlanta Falcons running back rushed for 116 yards on Sunday, giving him 621 yards and nine touchdowns already, becoming only the fourth player age 23 or younger to rush for at least 600 yards and nine touchdowns in his team’s first seven games, joining Jim Brown (1958 and ’59), Eric Dickerson (1983) and Emmitt Smith (1992).
  • Todd Gurley is also off to a quick start. The St. Louis Rams back rushed for 128 yards and two touchdowns against the Cleveland Browns after going for 146 and 159 in his previous two games – making it 125 yards or more in each of his three starts, the first rookie to do that since Cadillac Williams in 2005.
  • The Jacksonville Jaguars’ 34-31 win over the Buffalo Bills in London included an explosive second quarter. The Jaguars scored four touchdowns, all by different methods – passing, a fumble return, interception return and rushing – but it’s probably not as rare you think. The Seattle Seahawks did that on Sept. 9, 2012 in a single quarter, too.
  • Kirk Cousins helped lead the biggest comeback in Washington Redskins history, as they overcame a 24-point deficit that was capped by a game-winning touchdown to Jordan Reed with 24 seconds left. It was the second time this year that Cousins threw a game-winning touchdown pass in the final 30 seconds of the fourth quarter, the only active NFL player to do that, according to Elias.
  • Amari Cooper became only the third player in the last 50 years to gain at least 100 yards receiving in three of his first six games, according to Elias, joining Byron Williams (New York Giants, 1983-84) and Julio Jones (2011). Cooper had five catches for 133 yards in the Oakland Raiders’ 37-29 win over San Diego.

 


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