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Essentials from Sunday: NFL's running quarterbacks hit their stride

Many of the mobile quarterbacks had their way in wins on Sunday, with one of them clinching the first playoff berth of the season and one of them pulling off an NFL first.

Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota led a strong day for the NFL’s mobile quarterbacks.

Mariota rushed for 112 yards and a touchdown, passed for 268 yards and three touchdowns and had a 118.2 rating in a 42-39 win against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Mariota is the only player in NFL history to pass for at least 250 yards with three touchdowns and rush for more than 100 yards in the same game.

Mariota has proved he is much more than just a running quarterback (although he did score the game-winning touchdown on an 87-yard run, the second-longest game-winner in the fourth quarter in NFL history). He has four games with at least three touchdown passes, joining Peyton Manning (1998) as the only quarterbacks to do that in their rookie seasons.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson had his way with the Minnesota Vikings in a 38-7 win. Wilson threw three touchdown passes without an interception and rushed for a touchdown. That’s seven games in his career with at least one passing touchdown, one rushing touchdown and no interceptions. Cam Newton is the only quarterback with more such games (12) in a player’s first four seasons. Wilson now averages a touchdown on every 17.2 passes, second only to Aaron Rodgers (one every 15.5 passes), among active players, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Speaking for Newton and the Carolina Panthers, they became the first team this season to clinch a playoff berth as the winners of the NFC South with a 12-0 record after a 41-38 win over the New Orleans Saints. The Panthers are the ninth team in the Super Bowl era to start a season 12-0. All of those teams made the playoffs, six of them advanced to the Super Bowl and four of them won the Super Bowl. Newton threw a touchdown in the final two minutes, only the second time in NFL history a game-winning touchdown was scored in the final two minutes to keep a team with at least 10 wins undefeated, according to Elias.

The Philadelphia Eagles got down 14-0 to the New England Patriots, then scored 35 unanswered points in a 35-28 win. The 35 straight points was the most scored against a Bill Belichick team. The Patriots fell from the first seed in the AFC playoff race to the third seed.

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton joined Manning as the only players in NFL history to pass for 3,000 yards in each of their first five seasons. Dalton threw for 220 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions for a career-best 146.8 passer rating in a 37-3 win over the Cleveland Browns.

Some receivers were also in top form on Sunday, with Brandon Marshall hauling in 12 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in the New York Jets’ 23-20 overtime win against the New York Giants. That put Marshall over 1,000 yards for the season (1,062), becoming the first player in NFL history with 1,000-yard receiving seasons with four different teams (in addition to the Jets, he did it with Miami, Chicago and Denver).

Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. had six catches for 149 yards and a touchdown in that loss, giving him 169 receptions in his first two seasons, more than any other player in his first two seasons, breaking past former record-holder Marques Colston’s 168-catch mark. It was also Beckham’s eighth career game with at least 140 receiving yards, also the most ever by any player in his first two NFL seasons. It was also the fifth loss the Giants have incurred when they had a lead in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter, tying an NFL record.

Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald had eight catches to reach 1,000 for his career, the 11th player in NFL history to reach that mark and the youngest, at 32 years and 97 days old, to do it.

As for the running backs, Thomas Rawls rushed for 101 yards in Seattle’s win, and with 712 yards on the season he has more rushing yards than any other undrafted player in his first six starts since the 1970 merger.

Cardinals running back David Johnson joined Gale Sayers as the only rookies in NFL history with at least four rushing touchdowns, four receiving touchdowns and a kickoff return for a touchdown in a season. Johnson rushed for 99 yards and a caught touchdown in the Cardinals’ win. According to Elias, Johnson’s nine touchdowns tie Ottis Anderson and Tim Hightower for the franchise record of most touchdowns by a rookie.


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