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AFC, NFC News and Notes

Posted Oct 9, 2013

AFC, NFC News and Notes



AFC NEWS AND NOTES

COLTS’ LUCK EXCELLING IN YEAR 2, LEADS COMEBACKS

 

LUCK TO MAKE FIRST CAREER APPEARANCE ON MNF VS. SAN DIEGO 

 

Through Week 5, there have been 25 fourth-quarter comebacks, fourth-most at this point in NFL history.

 

Colts quarterback ANDREW LUCK is no stranger to comebacks. In Indianapolis’ 34-28 win against Seattle on Sunday, Luck led Indianapolis to 11 fourth-quarter points as the Colts came back from a 28-23 deficit.

 

“He just wills this team to victory,” says Colts head coach CHUCK PAGANO. “He’s unbelievable. He’s able to stick to the process. It doesn’t matter what the score is, what the situation is, the guy just finds a way to make plays, finds a way to get out of the pocket, finds a way to extend. Obviously the guys believe in him. We can jump on his shoulders, jump on his back. We’re very, very fortunate that we have him.”

 

The second-year quarterback has now engineered nine game-winning drives in the fourth-quarter or overtime, the most through a player’s first 21 games by any quarterback that began his career since the 1970 merger.

 

Luck is currently tied with JAKE PLUMMER for the most game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in the first two seasons of a career since 1970.

 

“No situation is too big for this kid,” says former Patriots linebacker and ESPN analyst TEDY BRUSCHI. “This guy doesn’t blink. His mentality is always the same and he does not get intimidated. I just see endless poise and composure from him.”

 

Added former NFL quarterback and CBS Sports’ NFL TODAY analyst BOOMER ESIASON, “Overall he is everything as advertised when he came out of Stanford.  A can’t miss player. If you ask any one of his teammates or coaches, he is the quintessential guy you want leading your franchise.”

 

The most game-winning drives in the fourth quarter/overtime in the first two seasons of career since 1970:

 

PLAYER

TEAM

GAME-WINNING DRIVES

Jake Plummer

Arizona Cardinals

9

Andrew Luck

Indianapolis Colts

9*

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis Colts

8

Many

 

7

*Through 21 career games

 

 

 

Luck, who has led Indianapolis to a 4-1 record atop the AFC South this season, is 15-6 (.714) as a starter and reached 15 wins the fastest by a quarterback drafted No. 1 overall since the 1970 merger (21 starts).

 

In 2013, Luck can challenge BEN ROETHLISBERGER’s (22) record for the most wins among quarterbacks in their first two seasons of a career since 1970.

 

“I don’t even look at Andrew Luck as a young quarterback anymore,” says former NFL head coach and NFL Network analyst STEVE MARIUCCI. “He plays like a veteran; he’s never out of a game. He’s smart and he’s tough. He plays like an eight-year veteran. The sky is the limit.”

 

 

The most wins among quarterbacks through the first two seasons of a career since 1970:

 

PLAYER

TEAM

WINS

Ben Roethlisberger

Pittsburgh Steelers

22

Dan Marino

Miami Dolphins

21

Joe Flacco

Baltimore Ravens

20

Matt Ryan

Atlanta Falcons

20

 

 

 

Additionally, Luck passed for an NFL-rookie record 4,374 yards a season ago and has totaled 5,518 passing yards in 21 career games.

 

In the remaining 11 games of the 2013 season, Luck needs 2,403 passing yards for the most passing yards in the first two seasons of a career in NFL history.

 

The most passing yards through the first two seasons of a career in NFL history:

 

PLAYER

TEAM

PASSING YARDS

Cam Newton

Carolina Panthers

7,920

Peyton Manning

Indianapolis Colts

7,874

Dan Marino

Miami Dolphins

7,294

Andy Dalton

Cincinnati Bengals

7,067

Drew Bledsoe

New England Patriots

7,049

 


NFC NEWS AND NOTES


TIGHT ENDS MAKING IMPACT IN NFL

 

As passing offenses around the NFL evolve, more teams are factoring the tight end into the game plan.

 

“I’ve never seen this many tight ends this good at one particular time,” says CBS analyst SHANNON SHARPE, one of eight tight ends enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “We’ve never seen the position this dominant. This is the golden age of tight ends.”

 

Through the first five weeks of the NFL season, tight ends have combined for 765 catches for 8,992 yards and 76 touchdowns. That is the most by players at that position in all three categories through the first five weeks of any season in NFL history.

 

YEAR

RECEPTIONS

 

YEAR

REC. YARDS

 

YEAR

REC. TDs

2013

765

 

2013

8,992

 

2013

76

2012

748

 

2011

8,435

 

2011

67

2010

725

 

2010

8,124

 

2012

67

2011

699

 

2012

8,117

 

2010

55

 

In each of the past four years, NFL tight ends broke the single-season record for the most receptions for the position. Last year, players at the position combined for 2,401 catches. Tight ends also combined for 26,197 receiving yards and 197 touchdown catches in 2012, both of which rank second to 2011’s record totals (27,080 yards, 198 TDs).

 

Tight ends are putting up numbers at a record pace this season, with projected totals for the season of 2,543 receptions, 29,895 receiving yards and 252 receiving touchdowns.

 

SINGLE-SEASON RECORDS FOR TIGHT ENDS

YEAR

RECEPTIONS

 

YEAR

REC. YARDS

 

YEAR

REC. TDs

2012

2,401

 

2011

27,080

 

2011

198

2011

2,341

 

2012

26,197

 

2012

197

2010

2,256

 

2010

24,969

 

2010

190

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2013

2,543*

 

2013

29,895*

 

2013

252*

                                                                                   *Projection for 2013 season based on numbers through first 77 games

 

“The importance of the tight end position has increased with the new emphasis on the passing game,” says NFL Network analyst and former NFL head coach STEVE MARIUCCI. “Teams are throwing the ball more often.

 

“The way to create mismatches with defenses is to have versatile tight ends. That’s why we’re seeing a lot of basketball player tight ends – TONY GONZALEZ, JIMMY GRAHAM and ANTONIO GATES. You can play them in line and run some regular offense, and also stand them up and split them out in the slot or wide out and play them in a spread out type offense. Now you pose a problem to defenses and how do we match? Do we substitute nickel? Do we play base defense? It’s a problem. Teams are utilizing two tight ends very well and it’s hard to substitute with them. You don’t know what you’re going to get; either bunched up run plays or spread them out wide pass plays.”

 

New Orleans’ Graham leads the NFL with 593 receiving yards and is tied for second with 37 catches and six touchdowns. He has recorded a 100-yard performance in each of his past four games, tying the record for the longest streak by a tight end in NFL history. Gonzalez accomplished the feat in 2000 and Graham did it in 2011. Graham is the only tight end in league annals to record two separate such streaks. During this streak, Graham has 548 yards, the most by a tight end over any four-game span in a single season in NFL history.

 

Gonzalez, who is the all-time leader at the position with 1,275 receptions, 14,607 receiving yards and 106 touchdowns, has recorded a catch in 200 consecutive games, the second-longest streak by any player in NFL history (Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE, 274 games). Last week, he surpassed MARVIN HARRISON and moved into sixth place all-time in career receiving yards. Gonzalez already ranks second in NFL history in receptions and is sixth in touchdown catches.

 

Earlier this season, Dallas’ JASON WITTEN (834) passed Shannon Sharpe (815) and moved into second place among tight ends in career receptions. San Diego’s Gates is fourth all-time with 674 catches. Witten (9,261) and Gates (8,759) rank third and fourth among tight ends in receiving yards and Gates’ 85 touchdown catches are the second-most by any player at the position.

 

“I think KELLEN WINSLOW and OZZIE NEWSOME really revolutionized the position and now you’re seeing more and more of these guys,” says NBC analyst and former NFL head coach TONY DUNGY. “They’re difficult to defend and I think you’re going to continue to see more tight ends become big-time playmakers.”

 

Tight ends have put up big numbers through the first five weeks of the season and a number of them rank among the leaders in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches.

 

The tight ends who rank in the top 25 among all NFL players in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns this season:

 

MOST RECEPTIONS

 

MOST RECEIVING YARDS

 

MOST RECEIVING TDs

NAME

REC

RANK

 

NAME

YDS

RANK

 

NAME

TDs

RANK

Jimmy Graham

37

T2

 

Jimmy Graham

593

1

 

Jimmy Graham

6

T2

Jordan Cameron

33

T6

 

Antonio Gates

438

7

 

Julius Thomas

6

T2

Tony Gonzalez

33

T6

 

Jordan Cameron

396

14

 

Jordan Cameron

5

T5

Antonio Gates

32

T8

 

Julius Thomas

359

22

 

Vernon Davis

4

T7

Jason Witten

28

T19

 

 

 

 

 

Martellus Bennett

3

T12

Julius Thomas

27

T25

 

 

 

 

 

Owen Daniels

3

T12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Gonzalez

3

T12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garrett Graham

3

T12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jason Witten

3

T12

 


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