NFL Fast Facts

An old veteran hangs up his cleats in Carolina ... Will Randy Moss break Jerry Rice's record? ... An eye-opening fact about the Bob Sanders contract extension ... Notes on Jerricho Cotchery and Ben Roethlsberger along with a number of NFL teams, including the Packers and the Giants in Ed Thompson's NFL Fast Facts.

Hanging up the cleats ... finally: Carolina quarterback Vinny Testaverde will retire from the NFL after the Panthers wrap up their season at Tampa Bay this Sunday. In six starts this season, the 21-year veteran has completed 54.7 percent of his passes, just 1.8 percent lower than his career average. He's tossed five touchdown passes to push his career number to 275. The former first-round selection in the 1987 draft has played for the Buccaneers, Browns, Ravens, Jets (twice), Cowboys, and Patriots before his short stint this season in Carolina. To put the length of Testaverde's career in perspective, consider that when he entered the league Ronald Reagan was the country's president, the Giants had just defeated the Broncos to win Super Bowl XXI, and many of this year's NFL rookies were just three to four years old.

Daily double potential:  Randy Moss' 21 touchdown receptions this season is just one shy of former 49ers receiver Jerry Rice's all-time record set back in 1987. So what are the odds that he'll tie or surpass Rice when the Patriots play the Giants? Well, with temperatures expected to dip below 40 degrees by game time and if Moss' history is any indicator of how he'll fare, he's got a little less than a 50-50 chance of tying the record, but not so good of a chance of beating it. He's played in cold temperatures 11 times during his career and has caught at least one touchdown in five of them. But he's only caught two or more in two of those games. That said, with Tom Brady attempting to notch a pair of touchdowns so that he can surpass Colts quarterback Peyton Manning's single season touchdown passing record of 49, don't be surprised if he tries to give Moss every opportunity to pull a daily double with him so that they can break both records simultaneously.

First time: Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery came up 39 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard receiving season in 2006, but he heads into his final game of the year already over that mark with 1,054. That total, along with his 14.2 yards per catch average are both career-bests for the four-year pro. Cotchery has been particularly dangerous on first down this season with 27 receptions for an average of 16.9 yards per catch.

Colts safety Bob Sanders
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Off the market: A few weeks ago during an interview at, Colts president Bill Polian confirmed that safety Bob Sanders was scheduled to become a free agent in February. But he also said, "He'll be here next season. Don't worry about that."  Polian made good on those words, reportedly inking Sanders to a deal that runs through 2012 worth $37.5 million, including $20 million in guarantees.  Sanders' contract is particularly impressive when you consider that during his four-year career, he has never made it through a complete season without being sidelined.  He should finish the 2007 campaign with 15 game appearances to push his career total to 39 out of 64 games — just over 60 percent. Foot and knee injuries limited him during his rookie season, and a knee injury caused him to miss all but four regular season games in 2007. But his value to the Colts defense is obvious to anyone who watched him energize Indianapolis during the playoffs and the Super Bowl last season. His hard-hitting style and playmaking ability have earned him consideration for Defensive Player of the Year honors. 

Bad boys: Even though they've drawn the third-most penalty flags in the NFL, the Green Bay Packers haven't been slowed like the other teams who are currently in the top five in that category. Arizona appears to be poised to finish the year with the most penalties called against them with 137 while Oakland has drawn 126 flags, just barely ahead of the Packers' 124. Meanwhile, the Falcons and the Bears will likely break their tie for fourth-place this weekend with 120 each, but they could easily be passed by the Browns, who have 119 heading into their regular-season finale. If you only count the penalties accepted by their opponents, the Falcons fall out of the top five and the Browns move into fifth place.

Challenging only himself:  Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has completed 65.3 percent of his passes after 15 weeks of NFL action. Only one quarterback in Steelers history has finished a season better than that, posting a 66.4-percent completion rate — and that would be Roethlisberger from his rookie campaign when he started 13 games. His 62.7-percent completion percentage in 2005 is third-best in franchise history. 

Airing it out: You probably wouldn't be surprised to learn that the two top teams in total air yards are the New England Patriots (2,637) and the Indianapolis Colts (2,509). Air yards are the number of yards gained from the line of scrimmage to the point where a receiver catches the ball before he tacks on any additional yards after the catch. But what caught me by surprise are the three teams who round out the top five in the category. The Houston Texans, who have relied on a combination of first-year starter Matt Schaub and perennial backup Sage Rosenfels, are third with 2,476 yards. The Arizona Cardinals, largely on the arm strength of a revitalized Kurt Warner, are fourth with 2,446 while the Detroit Lions are fifth with 2,441. Dallas is just six yards behind the Lions heading into the final weekend of regular season action.

Here you go: People have been talking about how the Giants need to play a perfect game to upset the Patriots Saturday night. But that isn't likely to happen, nor necessarily true.  Considering that New York hasn't finished a single game this year without giving away the football at least once, it would be surprising to see it happen in Week 17. But the good news for Giants fans is that the team is 3-2 this season when they give the ball away either once or twice during the game. Ironically, they have a 4-1 record when giving the ball away three times or more.

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