Essentials from Sunday: The NFL's high-flying QBs

Russell Wilson led some notable quarterback performances on Sunday, but Wilson is the leader in one impressive statistic. We chronicle the big Sunday performances around the NFL.

It seems every week there is another quarterback throwing five touchdowns. Russell Wilson is known for his scrambling ability to extend plays, but on Sunday he was incredibly efficient in his passes, tossing a career-high five touchdowns with no interceptions in an important 39-30 win for the Seattle Seahawks over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

While the five touchdowns were a first for Wilson, it was his 20th game with multiple touchdowns and no interceptions, the most by any player in his first four NFL seasons in the Super Bowl era.

His impressive performance also came on his 27th birthday, only the third quarterback to throw five touchdowns on his birthday (Frank Filchock, Redskins, 1944; and Warren Moon, Oilers, 1990), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The win propelled the Seahawks into the projected No. 6 seed in the NFC.

There were big performances all around the league in Week 12. Here are numerous other ones:

Speaking of no interceptions, no one has done that longer lately than the Chiefs’ Alex Smith. He has gone 283 consecutive pass attempts without an interception, the fourth-longest streak in NFL history. Only Tom Brady (358), Bernie Kosar (308) and Bart Starr (294) have a longer streak without an interception. And Smith finally opened up the passing game, too. According to Elias, Smith’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin traveled 34 yards in the air, the first time since Oct. 7, 2012, that Smith threw a touchdown that traveled at least 30 yards in the air.

Ryan Fitzpatrick nearly equaled Wilson’s five-touchdown performance. The New York Jets QB tossed four touchdowns in a 38-20 win over the Dolphins, marking the sixth straight season Fitzpatrick has had at least one game with four touchdown passes. He is the first player in NFL history to do that with four different franchises (Jets, Bills, Titans, Texans).

Brady tied Dan Marino for third place in touchdown passes. They each have 420 passing touchdowns, behind only Peyton Manning (539) and Brett Favre (508). Brady threw three touchdowns in an overtime loss to the Denver Broncos, the first loss of the season for the Patriots, leaving the Carolina Panthers as the only undefeated team in 2015.

The Patriots got to overtime because Stephen Gostkowski kicked a 47-yard field goal as time expired, the longest game-tying kick at the end of regulation in franchise history, according to Elias.

Chargers QB Philip Rivers became the fourth-fastest player to reach 40,000 career passing yards, accomplishing that in his 159th game. He had 300 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in a 31-25 win over the Jaguars. Drew Brees reached 40,000 yards in 152 games, Dan Marino in 153 and Peyton Manning in 154.

One of Rivers’ favorite targets was Antonio Gates, who caught two touchdowns on Sunday, giving him 21 games with at least two touchdowns, the most ever by a tight end in NFL history.

Matt Hasselbeck just keeps going. He threw for 315 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Colts’ 25-12 win against Tampa Bay. He joined Warren Moon and Brett Favre as the only quarterbacks to win four straight games after their 40th birthday.

The Saints’ 24-6 loss to the Texans snapped a 45-game streak of Brees throwing at least one touchdown pass, according to Elias. Brees had thrown at least one touchdown pass in 99 of his previous 100 games.

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 158 yards and two touchdowns in a 20-10 win over Atlanta, marking the 18th time Peterson has had 150 yards or more rushing, tying him with Eric Dickerson and Emmitt Smith for fourth-most in NFL history. Only Barry Sanders (25), Jim Brown (22) and Walter Payton (20) have more of those games.

Peterson also moved into 18th place on the all-time rushing chart, passing Eric Dickerson, Corey Dillon and John Riggins on his way to 11,354 career rushing yards.

It was also Peterson’s 30th career game with at least 125 yards rushing, putting him in sixth place in that category with Sanders (46), Brown (41), Payton (38), Dickerson (36) and Smith (34) having more of those games.

Washington’s DeSean Jackson has a propensity for big catches, getting a 63-yard touchdown catch in a 20-14 win over the Giants. It was his 19th game with a catch of at least 60 yards, tied for fourth-most in NFL history. Jerry Rice holds the record with 23 touchdowns of at least 60 yards.

Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert scored his 12th receiving touchdown of the season in a 31-7 win over the Rams, becoming only the second tight end (Julius Thomas, 2014) in the last 50 years to have 12 touchdown passes in the first 12 weeks of a season, according to Elias.

J.J. Watt had two sacks in the Texans’ 24-6 win over New Orleans. He leads the NFL with 13½ sacks and now has 70½ in 75 career games. He is the second-fastest to reach 70 career sacks (Reggie White did that in 57 games) since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.

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