josh gordon2

Josh Gordon has had every opportunity to fail this year, and every reason to be sluggish, or sputter, or to just generally do little.

He missed the first two games due to a drug suspension. Had he started slow or just done nothing at all, we would have pointed to that absence, and assumed it stunted the growth of a sophomore wide receiver, at least briefly. But then he posted 146 yards in his season debut, and had at least 120 yards in two of his first four games. All was well.

Then he could have and perhaps should have fizzled when Brandon Weeden resumed throwing him footballs, because doing that in an accurate and consistent manner isn’t an area where Weeden excels. He is, sadly, a downgrade from Jason Campbell, and certainly a tumble from Brian Hoyer.

But there he was yesterday, out-running everyone and creating his very own place in the NFL record books.

Wherever you are right now, I need you to stop whatever you’re doing, and gaze off deep into the distance. Right now it’s just you and me, and perhaps a few weirded out coworkers, and we’re looking far, far away. Imagine the surface the great manly game of football is played upon each and every Sunday. Now imagine five of them, placed end-to-end. That’s the distance Gordon has covered over just the past two weeks.

During the Browns’ 32-29 loss to Jacksonville, Gordon become the first receiver in league history to put together back-to-back games with 200 or more receiving yards. This time he did it with 261 yards on 10 catches, one of which almost went the maximum distance you can take any play: 95 yards.

What makes his outlandish performance just a little more dumb is that Gordon left briefly in the third quarter to get examined for a possible concussion. That absence meant little, as in addition to that nearly field-long catch and run, Gordon had five more catches for +20 yards with two touchdowns. It all added up to 38 fantasy points, meaning Gordon was receiving many nominations for president of the world.

Over the past two weeks he has 498 receiving yards. Taking that further, if we go back one more game he has 623 yards since Week 11, and he’s done that with catches for 95 and 74 yards, and an average 21.5 yards per reception. Now in addition to being the first with back-to-back 200 yarders, he’s also one of only eight receivers with multiple 200-yard games in a season. And with 1,249 yards overall this year, Gordon is the league’s second best receiver despite missing those two games, and despite getting the majority of his passes from Brandon Weeden.

He might have a future.

Fun with numbers

  • Knile Davis’ 108-yard kick return in which he bumbled and bounced his way to a touchdown while covering more than the entire length of the field was the longest play in Chiefs franchise history, and he came one yard short of tying the longest play in NFL history.
  • The Bears-Vikings game was not safe for human eyes once it went to overtime. The Vikings eventually won 23-20 to give Chicago’s playoff hopes another critical hit, but not until after a field goal was wiped out by a penalty, and then Blair Walsh finally hit the winner with 1:24 left. That’s how much time remained before we would have had a tie in back-to-back weeks, both involving the Vikings. Since 1974 (when the original sudden death overtime rules were implemented), there had been only 18 ties prior to this season.
  • This week in random but likely meaningless events: in just the first half of Washington’s loss to the Giants (which was low-lighted by a horrendous officiating blunder with something so simple yet crucial: what down is it?), Alfred Morris caught three passes, and he had only three receptions throughout the rest of the season prior to Week 13.
  • With his 46 total yesterday, Alex Smith now has 360 rushing yards this year. His previous single-season high? 179.
  • Aiming to out weird first half yardage-to-points ratio the Lions, here’s Miami’s first half in their eventual win over the Jets: they outpaced the opposition in yardage 268-39, and yet they led only 6-0. Thankfully nature corrected itself, and they won 23-3.
  • And while we’re on that debacle: what up, Geno Smith? The quarterback who was once honestly, seriously touted as a first overall pick is quickly taking up his residency in the vast wasteland of Bustville. Smith was pulled at halftime for Matt Simms, which happened after he completed only four of his 10 passes for 29 yards with an interception. That’s a pace of only 2.9 yards per pass attempt, and it’s the fourth straight week his completion percentage has been below 45.0. Earlier in the year I passively defended Smith, saying that expecting rookie quarterbacks to even come into the area code of what we saw with, say, Andrew Luck and Cam Newton is ridiculous, and instead inconsistency is often the norm. But yeah, this is getting to be a little much.
  • I’m just gonna leave this here: if Nick Foles threw 50 straight picks, he’d still have a higher passer rating that Geno (that statistical amazement comes our way via Reuben Frank). Yowzas.
  • Cam Newton only had one +20 yard run this year, and he’s logged three games when his longest run was in the single digits. That’s less than sufficient from a fast and mobile and strong quarterback, so of course on his first carry yesterday against Tampa he took one 56 yards, the second longest run of Newton’s career.
  • The Patriots eeked by again, flirting with disaster and nearly succumbing to the proverbial let-down game syndrome with a three-point win over the Texans. They trailed by 10 points twice, and now of the nine wins by Brady’s fun bunch, five of them have come by a field goal or less.

This is a legal tackle

Nope, nothing to see here. Just, quite literally, a grown-assed man be dragged down by his nuts.

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And here’s Mike Glennon leading the league in mental pain while being the herpiest derp.

Alrighty then, with that comedic interlude out of the way, let’s move on to more discussion of  this week in super awesome player performances. Week 13 is the final week in the fantasy regular season for most leagues, so these folks either created playoff dreams or shattered them. Sorry?

Peyton Manning is still blowing your damn mind

Yeah, he threw two picks, but so what.

During a win over the Chiefs in which Denver held on even after scoring 21 unanswered points to hand KC its third division loss, Peyton Manning threw five more touchdowns. Incredibly, it was the sixth game this year that Manning has thrown at least four touchdown passes. For fun, let’s see what happens if we add up only those games, and take away the rest. Looked at another way, let’s see what happens if we take away half of Manning’s schedule thus far, but focus on his top performances.

Yep, he’s still tied for the league lead in passing touchdowns (28).

Also, with 4,125 passing yards he has the most through 12 games in league history. He finished with 403 yards yesterday — the third time this year he’s topped 400 — and he’s now on pace for 5,500.

Adrian Peterson really enjoys the Bears defense

Every running back really enjoys the Bears defense now, because that’s what happens when said defense has given up 626 yards to running backs over just the past four weeks. But when you’re Adrian Peterson and you’re large, elusive, fast, and generally a horrible experience during an attempted tackle, the joy of facing a weak sister run defense goes deep.

Peterson ran for 211 yards during the Vikings’ win at a pace of 6.0 per carry. He now has 357 rushing yards over just the past two weeks, and through Week 13 he’s already secured his sixth season with at least 1,200 yards. He also wrapped up this nifty little career accomplishment.

Sure, he had the help of almost an entire extra quarter, but rushing for over 200 yards in a game is still a rather Herculean achievement. It’s a number Peterson has reached four times over his last 17 games.

But it’s also a number that led to a quirky bit of history. Peterson become only the 12th running back in league history to rush for more than 200 yards in a game, but do it without scoring.

When Nick Foles throws, he prefers to do it for a touchdown

Nick Foles may forever be remembered as the man who saved two seasons: the Eagles’ 2013 campaign, and yours.

For the low, low price of a waiver claim a few weeks back, Foles could be yours as a fake football product. Hell, he’s still available in nearly 30 percent of ESPN leagues, which is quite stupid. So what’s he done since? He’s scored. He scores more than hammers around Miley Cyrus.

With three more yesterday during the Eagles’ win over Arizona to keep pace with the Cowboys atop the NFC East, Foles now has 19 touchdowns passes this year, and zero interceptions. If he throws one more before his first interception, Foles will tie the record of 20 TDs without a pick that was set by Peyton Manning earlier this year. Passing!

Sunday he was busy scribbling all over another record book, setting the team record for pass attempts without an interception (233), and he joins Donovan McNabb to become one of only two quarterbacks in team history to record four straight games with a passer rating over 100.0.

Perhaps the most absurd stat associated with Foles is that 9.7 percent of his passes have been touchdowns. To put that in perspective, Pey Pey currently leads the league in touchdowns with his 41, yet he’s throwing for six points on 8.5 percent of his passes.

Alshon Jeffery went all Josh Gordon

It was pretty much a coin flip between Gordon and Alshon Jeffery as I decided which wide receiver earth shaking to feature more prominently in the pristine leadoff role here. Gordon won out because his numbers today weren’t just illegal in several counties, they were also accumulated without the benefit of a fifth quarter, and with even less than four after he left briefly due to a possible concussion.

But Jeffery still makes us go damnnnn. Like Gordon, he scored twice, and his 249 receiving yards were only 11 behind the Browns receiver. Here’s where Jeffery’s day gets nuts, though: just over half of his yardage came on two catches. His touchdown catches.

They went for 80 and 46 yards, and they both came in the third quarter of the Bears’ eventual loss. The latter was another classic Jeffery moment: he elevated to meet the ball, grabbed it with his mitt-like hands, and then was one with it while wrestling a defender in the air while he fell to the ground.

Let this roll around for a minute: Jeffery’s 145 yards in just that third quarter alone was more than all but three pass catchers thus far in Week 13.

Yep, he went about his booming in an interesting and scattered way.

Eric Decker is a statistical anomaly

Hey, Eric Decker is great. And he seems to have overcome his fear of the 40-yard line, which is also great.

But here’s what’s nuts about Decker’s four-touchdown game. Wait, that didn’t come off right, because a four-touchdown game is always nuts, since only 36 pass catchers in league history have scored four times in a game, and Decker came one more touchdown away from tying the single-game record. Decker’s name is now alongside Randy Moss, Sterling Sharpe, Ahmad Rashad, and Isaac Bruce, to name a few.

Let’s solve this problem of language then: here’s what’s nuts about Decker’s complete abnormality of a game. He scored more times yesterday than he had throughout the rest of the season (three), and he hadn’t scored since Week 7. That seems like a pretty difficult thing to do in an offense that had chucked 38 TD passes prior to Week 13, and is on pace to shatter every passing record imaginable.

Oh yeah, Decker also finished with 174 yards (with two +40 yard grabs), a career single-game high, while bestowing 41 points upon his fantasy owners. His per game average prior to Sunday? 72.5 yards.

One last mind-smashing number for you now that I’ve sufficiently salivated over Decker, Gordon, and Jeffery. Those three combined = 684 yards at a pace of 22.8 per catch. Boom.

Ben Tate enjoys scoring touchdowns too

Though fine, Ben Tate’s yardage may not have quite been there (103 rushing yards at a pace of 4.7 per carry). But them touchdowns are where it’s at.

Tate scored three times during a loss to the Patriots that brought up ludicrous spygate claims. That added up to a cool 28 fantasy points for those who were brave enough to start the previously plodding Texans running back. Tate was averaging only 5.3 points per game, and he had scored only once.

C.J. Spiller has…returned?

Oh, we can hope. And hope we will (hope hope hope).

An ankle injury had zapped C.J. Spiller of his explosive burst for much of the year, which has brought pain to his fantasy owners, to Bills fans, and to anyone who enjoys watching good football players do good football things. But Sunday afternoon in the cavernous empty space that was the Rogers Centre, Spiller took a few strides on just his second carry of the game, and then he was gone, with no one catching him until 77 yards later.

That one run was more than Spiller’s rushing yardage in six games this year. But despite what he’s been reduced to, Spiller has still often had sporadic sprints this year, as that run was also already his third carry for 50 yards or more.

He finished with 149 yards at a pace of 9.9 per carry.

Roddy White has…returned?

Each week there’s a least one set of astounding numbers that I ask you to sit down for, and to really process. Alright, so how’s abouts this: Roddy White entered yesterday without even a 50-yard game, as he was averaging 26.1 yards per week during his own injury-zapped season. And he was running and catching against a Bills defense giving up just 229.0 passing years to each team.

So of course White finished with 143 yards, including a season-long 29-yard catch. Want to know why the Falcons suck? Well, a defense that’s just the worst mostly, but the absence of Julio Jones along with White only appearing in Week 13 isn’t helping.

A polite request

Can we all please adhere to Ron Rivera’s nickname change request going forward? Thanks.

Quote of the week

Later this afternoon — or in my world, tomorrow, since days only change after you sleep — I’ll have much more on what was another failed Bills Toronto Series game, despite the wildly entertaining product on the field (the Falcons beat the “home” team 34-31 in overtime). Just as I did with the state of NFL football in London a few months back, this continued foreign NFL experiment is complex and needs to be unpacked with further elaboration, as the results go beyond the dwindling attendance numbers.

For now, here’s the most important information you need to know, and it comes in the form of a question. If Rob Ford — currently the world’s most famous/infamous mayor — stole your seat at a football game, you have to kick him out, right?

 

 

When you gotta go…

Let Jim Nantz’s verbal stumble wash over you, and let your 10-year-old self giggle with great delight.

Knowshon Moreno is gushing everywhere

With playoff jostling happening and seasons unofficially and officially ending , Week 13 was about letting it all out. Especially your INTENSITY and MAN TEARS…

That’s Knowshon Moreno letting the national anthem tap deep into his inner man, and here he is being just the best.

Knowshon Moreno cried, crawled during Broncos-Chiefs. We like... on Twitpic

From now on during the height of draft evaluation season in March and April, we’ll use “Knowshon Morenos” to measure the heart and grit of prospects.

Ouch

The hurt this week is manageable, so praise whatever god you worship for that during these dire times.

  • The most significant injury of the day was to Branden Albert, the Chiefs left tackle who protects Alex Smith’s blindside and opens holes for Jamaal Charles. We’ll know more later today, but there’s early optimism that Albert has dodged a serious knee problem, which is what it looked like when he needed the assistance of the cart.
  • Kenbrell thompkins sustained a hip injury, and with Aaron Dobson out too the result was another game with heavy targets for Julian Edelman (12). Expect that to continue if both Dobson and Thompkins remain sidelined.
  • Rob Gronkowski tweaked his ankle, but continue normal breathing. He’s fine.
  • Christian Ponder left with a concussion. Meh, Matt Cassel is only slightly worse.
  • Brandon Weeden was also diagnosed with a concussion. Normally we’d just put another coin in the horrible Browns quarterback carousel, but Jason Campbell is still recovering from his own head knock. So who does that leave if both Campbell and Weeden can’t go next week? Alex Tanney.