Teddy Bridgewater was back in uniform, Adrian Clayborn made some money, and Tom Brady set another record. Here’s everything that happened this week.
Week 10 in the NFL didn’t bring us fireworks like last week, when there were three fights and one team literally ran out of fireworks. This Sunday, only Vontaze Burfict was (somewhat questionably) ejected.
But this week still kept us on our toes. The Saints, Vikings, and Rams all continue to look like completely different teams from last year. The 49ers are no longer in the sorriest competition with the Browns. And we’re still trying to sort out everything that happened at the end of that game between the Chargers and Jaguars.
But enough talking. Let’s nerd out and look at the best stats from Week 10.
For the first time in years, the Saints have both a defense and a running game. Unsurprisingly, they’re also contenders for the first time in years.
In this week’s only matchup between teams with winning records, the Saints bulldozed the Bills, 47-10. And for once, Drew Brees’ arm was mostly a bystander. All six of New Orleans’ touchdowns came on the ground, including one from Brees. Six rushing touchdowns in one game is more than 13 teams have this season, and it’s as many as two others.
The Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara duo has led the charge, and both running backs went over 100 yards Sunday. They were unstoppable every which way against the once-formidable Buffalo defense:
Some wild numbers coming out of Sunday’s Saints romp over the Bills, via #NextGenStats. Ingram + Kamara thrived no matter what Buffalo tried: pic.twitter.com/YhAp6G8YWE
— Marc Sessler (@MarcSesslerNFL) November 13, 2017
New Orleans totaled 298 rushing yards and has now won seven straight games, tying the Eagles for the longest current winning streak in the NFL. Watch out for the Saints, y’all.
Teddy Bridgewater started a playoff game for the Vikings on Jan. 10, 2016 that was miserably cold and is best remembered for Blair Walsh shanking a 27-yard field goal that would’ve won the game. For Bridgewater, that was his last time on the field for the Vikings before Sunday.
No, he never took a snap against Washington, but Bridgewater was active and in a Vikings uniform again for the first time in more than 22 months — 672 days, to be exact.
It was a special moment for Bridgewater:
“I was trying to keep it together,” Bridgewater said after the game. “It’s just opportunities like these don’t come around twice, so when you get that second opportunity, you cherish it, hold it and never want to let it go, so today, God blessed me.”
The Vikings are 7-2 and Case Keenum has played well enough that the team hasn’t really needed to yank him and rush Bridgewater back into action. But Mike Zimmer is already leaving the door open that Bridgewater could start in Week 11, and even if it’s still Keenum, that leash will probably be really short.
It’s possible Bridgewater’s time between throwing passes in an NFL game ends after 679 days.
The 49ers finally got in the win column with a 31-21 victory over a Giants team that someone better try poking with a stick. San Francisco’s first win of the season was filled with mini-milestones:
- Kyle Shanahan’s first win as a head coach
- C.J. Beathard’s first win as a starting quarterback
- The team’s first win on a Sunday since Jan. 3, 2016
- The team’s first win against a non-Rams team since Dec. 6, 2015
- Left tackle Joe Staley’s best win since the 2012 NFC Championship
The 49ers are now 1-9, while the Giants are 1-8. Only one winless team remains this season, but you already know who that is.
The Browns are off to an 0-9 start for the second straight season. They’ve won one of their last 28 games.
For a while on Sunday, it looked like the Browns might finally be on their way to avoiding an 0-16 season against the Lions, the only team to ever finish 0-16. But surprise, the team that hasn’t led once during the fourth quarter of any game this season was outscored 14-0 in the last 15 minutes. Detroit, dangerously close to the season’s most embarrassing loss, ended up pulling out a double-digit win and improved to 5-4.
So how did Cleveland managed to give the Lions a scare?
Was interesting listening to the Lions reason their way through struggling against the winless Browns. Glover Quin said he believed Cleveland has more athletes than 25(!) teams in the NFL
— Kyle Meinke (@kmeinke) November 12, 2017
Before loling, let’s be fair to Quin real quick: the Browns have a lot of young talent. That’s what happens when you stockpile draft picks — they have six first-rounders from the past three years on the roster, and they’re well on their way to two top-10 picks in 2018.
And Lions coach Jim Caldwell also tried to warn us an upset was possible late last week:
Jim Caldwell on the Cleveland Browns: The fact of the matter is they’re as good as anybody else we’ll face. If we don’t play well, we’ll get beat.
— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) November 10, 2017
But c’mon. If athletic ability alone is all you need to get wins, the NFL’s best quarterback probably wouldn’t be the 40-year-old who runs, like, a six-minute 60-yard dash.
No, 86 isn’t a reference to Ben McAdoo, who will still have a job throughout the rest of the season, apparently. Instead, it signifies yaaaawn, yet another Tom Brady record.
Earlier this season, Brady broke one of Peyton Manning’s (and Brett Favre’s) records for most regular season wins by a starting quarterback. On Sunday night, Brady broke another Manning record — against one of Manning’s old teams.
With the Patriots’ 41-16 win over the Broncos in Denver, Brady has now won 86 road games as a starting quarterback, the most in NFL history. He’ll get a chance to add to that total next week in Mexico City, where the Patriots will take on the “home team” Raiders.
When Tom Brady reaches a milestone, oftentimes Bill Belichick does as well. That was the case Sunday night, when the Patriots head coach tied Cowboys legend Tom Landry for third all-time in coaching wins:
Pretty impressive pic.twitter.com/P2kuxGXiS3
— SB Nation NFL (@SBNationNFL) November 13, 2017
After the game, Belichick had zero interest in talking about himself.
“The players are the ones who deserve the credit, they’re the ones who go out there and make the plays and they did it tonight,” he said.
Belichick has a ways to go to catch George Halas (324) and Don Shula (347), but just like his quarterback, never count him out.
The league’s youngest player and its oldest player went head-to-head on Sunday when the Steelers faced the Colts. Well, maybe not literally head-to-head. The youngest player in the NFL is Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster at age 20, and the oldest is Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri, who is 44.
So it’s not like those two are personally going up against each other. But their teams did play on Sunday, and it marked the first time a player over 40 years old and a player under the age of 21 both scored in the same game.
Smith-Schuster had five catches for 97 yards and one touchdown. Vinatieri put up two extra points and a field goal. And the young guy’s team got the best of the old man and his squad. The Steelers won 20-17.
Christmas shopping is going to be pretty nice in Adrian Clayborn’s household after the Falcons defensive end earned a hefty bonus for his six-sack day against the Cowboys:
This is called a great day at the office: Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn’s 6 sacks Sunday earned him a $750,000 incentive, per source. Clayborn has a $750K incentive for eight sacks in season and he entered game with two. Two more gets him $1.25 million. Cha-Ching.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 13, 2017
He needed to get to eight sacks on the year to trigger the incentive in his contract, which was a tall ask for a player with 20.5 sacks in his first six seasons combined. After eight games in 2017, he had only two.
Now he’s just two more sacks away from his first ever double-digit sack total and a $1.25 million bonus. He’s also in a contract year, so things are looking up for Clayborn.
Jacoby Brissett has mastered the deep ball. Right now, Brissett leads the league in completed passes over 60 yards. He threw his fifth of the season on Sunday against the Steelers, hitting Chester Rogers for a 61-yard completion.
It didn’t do the Colts any good, because they lost to the Steelers. And Brissett ended up being placed in the concussion protocol after the game. But it’s pretty impressive for Brissett.
The Rams are cooking defenses and showing no signs of slowing down. The latest team on the train tracks was the Houston Texans who gave up 33 points, 443 total yards and this beautiful 94-yard bomb from Jared Goff to Sammy Watkins.
It was the longest offensive touchdown for the Rams since 1964 when Bill Munson threw a 95-yard pass to Bucky Pope. So that’s cool.
What’s really important, though, is that Goff looks miles better than he did last year. Like unrecognizably better.
Jared Goff (2016): 63.6 passer rating
Jared Goff (2017): 101.5 passer rating
His 37.9 passer rating increase from last season is the 2nd-largest passer rating improvement over a player’s previous season in NFL history@RamsNFL @JaredGoff16
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 13, 2017
The only player who jumped more was Nick Foles, who had a 79.1 passer rating as a rookie and a 119.2 rating in his second season in 2013. The Rams will hope Goff’s sophomore explosion isn’t the same kind of flash in the pan, and odds are he isn’t.
In a game that really did happen, journeyman quarterbacks Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown faced off in Week 10. And it was the first time in NFL history that two quarterbacks who have each thrown at least one pass for seven different teams played each other.
And that wasn’t all. Both quarterbacks were playing against (one of their many) old teams. McCown started 11 games for the Buccaneers in 2014. Fitzpatrick was the starter for the Jets last season. It was Fitzpatrick who emerged victorious over his former team in the 15-10 win.
In true Fitzpatrick and McCown fashion, they gave us something special to remember this game by.
They each threw a pick on back-to-back passes, which is a first for the 2017 season.
Austin Ekeler isn’t a household name by any stretch. But the running back did something for the Chargers on Sunday that even LaDainian Tomlinson never did: He scored two receiving touchdowns of more than 20 yards.
Austin Ekeler: 2 receiving touchdowns of 20+ yds today for @Chargers
LaDainian Tomlinson never had multiple receiving scores of 20+ yards in the same game
Ekeler: 1st RB with multiple receiving TD of 20+ yards in a game since Jamaal Charles in Week 15, 2013
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) November 12, 2017
It’s worth noting too that they came against the Jaguars, who are No. 1 in the NFL in pass defense with only 165.1 yards allowed per game and a total of six passing touchdowns allowed all year — two of which came from Ekeler.
The undrafted rookie was a more productive player than Melvin Gordon for the Chargers on Sunday, but his fumble in the final minutes of regulation put a damper on his big day.
“I’m sure he’s beating himself up over that fumble,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “But he made some great plays today too. He was one of the reasons why we were in the game. So he’s just going to have to learn from it, and keep it moving.”
Fumble or not, Ekeler was a weapon for the Chargers and looks like he could be a strong weapon to complement Gordon.
Cam Newton has been the only one consistently finding running room for the Panthers. At least that was the case until Monday, when Jonathan Stewart led a group that racked up 294 total rushing yards against the Dolphins.
Stewart had 110 of those yards, easily topping his previous high of 68 yards this season. Newton did his part too with 95 yards, including a 69-yard burst up the middle of the field.
That’s the second-most rushing yards ever for the Panthers — behind only the 299 they gained in a 2008 game during Stewart’s rookie year.
If Carolina can start running the ball with success in the back half of the season, they might be able to have more games like their 45-21 blowout of the Dolphins.