What a way to kickoff the NFL regular season—eventually. Following a weather delay that lasted nearly 42 minutes (longer than the blackout in the Super Bowl), the Denver Broncos destroyed the defending Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens 49-27.
The amazing part of this night wasn’t watching the new look Ravens defense allow the most points in team history during the loss. The amazing part was watching a 37 year old Peyton Manning use the Ravens defense like it was a 7-on-7 drill during practice. Having seemingly delivered career day after career day while playing quarterback for the Colts and Broncos, No.18 saved his finest performance for last night.
Manning threw seven touchdowns to four different receivers in a contest that resembled a Big XII showdown more than it did an NFL game. Manning joins Y.A. Tittle as the only quarterbacks to throw for seven scores without throwing an interception. He tied the NFL records both for number of games with four touchdown passes (23, shared with Brett Favre) and at least five touchdown passes (seven, tied with Drew Brees). He also has the most games with six touchdown passes in NFL history with three.
Manning is the sixth player with seven touchdown passes in a game, the first since Joe Kapp in 1969. He is the only Broncos player to throw for that many scores in a game and that’s important to mention not because Frank Tripuka played there.
Manning also joined Brees as the only quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era to throw six touchdown passes in a season opener and became the second-oldest quarterback with at least six touchdown passes, Brett Favre was a year older. He is also the only quarterback to throw as many as six touchdown passes in a game against the Ravens. Manning has a pair of games with at least six touchdowns and no interceptions. Only four other quarterbacks have at least one such game in the Super Bowl era. Tom Brady also has two.
The hits just keep on coming as Manning had four touchdown throws that went at least 15 yards downfield. Only two other quarterbacks have had a game with that many such throws within the past six seasons — Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. Manning is now 10-3 against the Ravens, combining regular season and postseason, which is the most wins for any quarterback against them.
Oh by the way, Manning’s 462 passing yards were the second-most he had in any game in his career. He had 472 against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2004. Wheeew let us take moment to thank the Elias Sports Bureau, Inc., as well as ESPN Stats and Information. I surely did not compile those stats because, as a Ravens fan, I could not pick my head up from my lap.
Each week during the NFL season, I will give 10 important tidbits about that weekends games, and with 15 games yet to be played this weekend, here are your 10 week 1 tidbits, courtesy of NFL Communications.
Is This Atlanta’s Year:
This offseason, the Atlanta Falcons signed free agent running back Steven Jackson, who has totaled 10,138 career-rushing yards. With Jackson and tight end Tony Gonzalez (14,268 receiving yards) on the same team, it will mark only the second time in NFL history a team will start the season with a 14,000-yard receiver and a 10,000-yard rusher.
Skins & Pats Sure Things:
The Redskins & Patriots look good for Week 1. Washington’s Mike Shanahan is 15-4 (.789) on Kickoff Weekend and his 15 wins are the most among active head coaches. Shanahan and New England’s BILL BELICHICK (12-6; .667) are the only active coaches that have won at least 10 Kickoff Weekend games and own an opening weekend winning percentage above .600
What’s on Tap for the MVP?
Last year, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards, the second-most in a season in NFL history, and was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player and the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year by The Associated Press. Entering his seventh season, Peterson has totaled 8,849 rushing yards.
With 151 rushing yards on Sunday, Peterson can join Pro Football Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson (9,915) and Jim Brown (9,322) as the only players to have at least 9,000 rushing yards through 90 career games in NFL history.
For more than four decades, according to The Harris Poll, the NFL has been the most popular sport in America. In its most recent survey, released January 17, 2013, Harris – the pioneer in market research – reveals that pro football is the favorite sport of more than one-third of people (34 percent). That is more than double the next favorite sport, with 16 percent of people claiming baseball as their favorite sport. In addition, professional football has gained in popularity more than any other sport since 1985 with a 10 percent increase (from 24 to 34 percent). The third favorite sport in the survey is college football at 11 percent, meaning that football is the favorite sport of nearly half of America’s sports fans (45 percent).
Interestingly, Auto Racing (8) beat basketball (7) by one percent.
The DALLAS COWBOYS, who start the season on Sunday Night Football at home against the New York Giants, have posted a 35-17-1 (.673) record on Kickoff Weekend, the top mark in the NFL, including wins in a record 17 consecutive openers from 1965-81. When the Cowboys play at Kansas City in Week 2, they can improve their league-best .623 winning percentage (33-20) in road openers.
The First to 50:
The NEW YORK GIANTS begin the year at Dallas on Sunday Night Football with the second-highest winning percentage (.590, 49-34-5) and the second-most wins (49) in road openers. With a victory, the Giants will be one of only two teams to win 50 or more road openers (Green Bay, 53). If the Giants defeat Denver in Week 2 at MetLife Stadium, they will reach 50 wins in home openers. With a 2-0 start, the Giants will reach 50 wins in both home openers and road openers, a feat that has not yet been accomplished (see Green Bay Packers).
The First to 50 Part II:
The NFC North champion GREEN BAY PACKERS, who open the season in San Francisco, have 52 wins on Kickoff Weekend, the second-most in league history. The Packers are 53-37-2 (.596) in road openers, the most wins and third-best winning percentage in the NFL, after winning six of the past seven such contests. When Green Bay hosts Washington in Week 2, the Packers (49) can become one of three NFL teams with 50 or more wins in home openers and will reach 50 wins in both home openers and road openers, a feat that has not yet been accomplished (see New York Giants).
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has a 136-39 (.777) career regular-season record as a starter, the best winning percentage of any NFL quarterback in the Super Bowl era with at least 100 starts. Brady’s success could be attributed to a fast start. Brady has a 10-1 (.909) career record in season-openers, the best among quarterbacks in the Super Bowl era (minimum 10 starts).
And They Say Defense Wins Championships
In 2012, a record 11,651 points were scored, with games averaging 45.5 points, the highest average in 47 seasons (46.1 in 1965). An NFL-record 139 return TDs were scored and nine teams scored 400+ points, tying the mark set in 2008. The league-wide passer rating (85.6) and TD-INT ratio (1.62:1) were both all-time bests, as games averaged an NFL record 694.4 total net yards per contest. There were 126 individual 300-yard passing games, the most ever— and 20 of 32 NFL teams (62.5 percent) started the same QB in every game, the most in a season since at least 1970. Twelve QBs had 25-plus pass TDs and six QBs passed for 4,500+ yards, both records.
How About Some Defense:
Pittsburgh has won six Lombardi trophies with some of the greatest defenses the league has ever seen. With the ageless Dick LeBeau as the Steelers defensive coordinator, Pittsburgh can become the third team to lead the league in fewest net yards allowed for three consecutive seasons. Boston/Washington (1935-37) and Chicago (1984-86) are the only teams to accomplish the feat. The Steelers have led the league in fewest net yards allowed in 10 different seasons, the most of any team in NFL history. And for good measure, the Steelers need one victory to become the first AFC team in history with 600 total victories. Pittsburgh’s all-time record is 599-546-2.
LeBeau actually played for the Boston/Washington team—–I’m kidding!
“The Juice, The Dutchman and Dallas Clarke—sorry, it’s a Clarke in Dallas”
Here are the best Week 1 performances in league history. The top rushing performance belongs to O.J Simpson. The Juice rushed for 250-yards on 29 carries and scored two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder. The Bills defeated the Patriots 31-13, as Simpson would go on to become the league’s first ever 2000-yard rusher, finishing with 2,003. The Bills will play the Patriots on Sunday and need more than the Juice in his heyday to have a shot in this one.
The L.A. Rams Norm Van Brocklin completed 27 passes for 554-yrads on Sept 28, 1951, as the Rams hammered the New York Yanks 54-14. WR’s, Crazy Legs Elroy Hirsch caught nine passes for 173-yards and caught four of The Dutchman’s five touchdowns on the day. Tom Fears would add 162-receiving yards and Vitamin Smith became the third century mark receiver for the Rams on the day with 103-yards and one touchdown. Van Brocklin, Hirsch and Fears would all go on to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Dutchman led the Rams to the 1951 NFL Title with a 24-17 win over the Browns in the championship game.
Dallas Cowboy wide receiver Frank Clarke caught 10 passes for 241 yards and three touchdowns as the Cowboys defeated the Washington Redskins on Sept 16, 1962. Don Meredith and Eddie LeBaron combined to pass for 351-yards against the Skins—but it was not enough to get the win—or a loss—The game ended in a 35-35 tie.
In terms of active players with the best opening weekend performances, Texans RB Arian Foster rushed for 233 yards and three TD’s vs. the Colts in 2012, which is second to O.J. Simpson. Patriots QB Tom Brady passed for 517-yards, and four TD’s vs. the Dolphins in 2011 and sits behind Van Brocklin. The top active pass catcher with the best opening day receiving stats is the 49ers Anquan Boldin, who hauled in 10-passes for 217 yards and scored two touchdowns vs. Detroit in 2003.
Of course, Manning’s seven touchdowns will be something to marvel at for decades to come when we talk about the opening weekend in the NFL. We started with No.18, so let us end with him as well. With Denver’s win on Thursday, Manning is the first quarterback in the Super Bowl era to win at least 12 consecutive regular-season games three separate times in a career. The Broncos entered the contest having won their final 11-games of the 2012 season.
Have a great opening weekend.