The old-school thinking was that quarterbacks needed time to develop in the NFL, but injuries have forced a new-school way of thinking that is finding success.
On Sunday, Prescott passed for 227 yards, giving him 1,239 yards passing through five games. Combined with rookie running back Ezekiel Elliott, who has 546 yards rushing, the Cowboys are the first team in NFL history to have a rookie quarterback with at least 1,000 passing yards and a rookie running back with at least 500 rushing yards in the first five games of a season.
Because of Prescott’s performance, Dallas is the first team since the 1973 Bills to win at least four of its first five games while starting a rookie quarterback in each game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
When Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season with an Aug. 30 knee injury, the Minnesota Vikings played dial-a-quarterback and landed Sam Bradford from the Philadelphia Eagles in a trade eight days before the regular-season opener. Bradford didn’t start the opener, but in the last four weeks he has completed 70 percent of his passes for six touchdowns and no interceptions and the Vikings are the only undefeated team left in the NFL. In fact, Minnesota is only the second team since 1933 (1969 Los Angeles Rams) to start 5-0 without throwing an interception, and Bradford is the first quarterback since John Hadl in 1973 to win each of his first four career starts for a team while throwing at least six touchdowns and no interceptions, according to Elias.
When Paxton Lynch started for the Denver Broncos on Sunday, he became the fifth rookie quarterback to start a game this season, joining Prescott, Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz, Cleveland’s Cody Kessler and New England’s Jacoby Brissett. That makes five rookies to start games in the first five weeks, tied for the most (2012) in the past 25 years.
All total, those five rookies have made 15 starts.
OTHER ESSENTIALS FROM SUNDAY
- The old guard of quarterbacks had their big days, too. New England Patriots QB Tom Brady threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns, becoming the first players in NFL history to throw for at least 400 yards and at least three touchdowns after not playing in his team’s first four games, per Elias. It was Brady’s 38th career game with at least 350 yards passing. Only Drew Brees has more such games (51).
- Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger completed 72.3 percent of his 47 passes for 380 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions (124.4 rating) in a 31-13 win over the New York Jets. Roethlisberger’s 41 consecutive home games with a touchdown pass is the third-longest in NFL history. His 15 touchdowns in the first five games is also the most ever by a Steelers quarterback in the first five games of a season.
- The Patriots’ win was the 250th career win for coach Bill Belichick, including the postseason, as he becomes the fourth coach in NFL history with 250 wins, joining Don Shula (347), George Halas (324) and Tom Landry (270).
- Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton are forming a winning combination with the Indianapolis Colts. Luck hit Hilton for the game-winning touchdown pass over the Chicago Bears with 3:43 remaining, the fourth game-winning touchdown between the two in the last four minutes of the fourth quarter. That’s the most game-winning touchdowns in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter for any teammates in the last four seasons, according to Elias.
- Indianapolis RB Frank Gore moved into ninth place in NFL history with 12,368 rushing yards after he ran for 75 yards against Chicago. Gore passed Jim Brown (12,312) on the all-time rushing list.
- The Atlanta Falcons became the third team in NFL history to win consecutive games against teams that played in the previous Super Bowl, according to Elias. The Falcons beat the Denver Broncos on Sunday and the Carolina Panthers the previous week.
- Rex Ryan is suddenly on a roll. With a 30-19 win over the Rams, Ryan’s Buffalo Bills have registered three consecutive wins of at least 10 points, the first time a Rex Ryan-led team has done that, per Elias.
- Punt returners had a day like none other in the NFL. Washington Redskins returner Jamison Crowder had an 85-yard return for a touchdown. Marcus Sherels had a 79-yard return for a touchdown for the Minnesota Vikings. And Jakeem Grant had a 74-yard punt-return touchdown for the Miami Dolphins. It was the first time in NFL history that there were three punt-return touchdowns of at least 74 yards on the same day.