NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each and every NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers.
And new statistics.
Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 1 of NFL play:
123.4: Mark Sanchez' QB rating against the Bills
Sanchez completed 19-of-27 passes for 266 yards, three touchdowns, an interception and didn't get sacked in the 48-28 destruction of Buffalo. It was the highest scoring output of the Sanchez era in New York and it was the second-highest single-game QB rating of Sanchez' career. So by definition, he has played one better game in his entire career— a 124.3 rating back in Week 2 of the 2010 season against New England. The former USC quarterback was brilliant in arguably the most pressure-packed atmosphere of his entire career as back-up Tim Tebow looked on from the sidelines. Tebow didn't attempt a pass and rushed five times for 11 yards. Although, I am sure that Tebow was the catalyst behind Sanchez' play, and therefore, deserves all of the credit.
8-8: Consecutive completions for Robert Griffin III to start his career
The No. 2 overall pick in the spring draft made his debut in New Orleans by completing his first eight passes for 149 yards and an 88-yard scoring strike. The long touchdown pass was the second-longest scoring strike by any quarterback making their debut, trailing on Charlie Batch's 98-yard scoring throw to Johnnie Morton back in 1998 for the Lions. Griffin III took a 20-14 road lead over New Orleans into halftime with a perfect 158.3 QB rating, something that has never been done (10 att.). By the game's end, Washington had defeated the Saints on the road and scored the most points, 40, of any Mike Shanahan-coached team in D.C. He threw for 320 yards as one of an NFL-record five rookie quarterbacks starting on Sunday. He and Andrew Luck, who threw for 309 yards in his debut, were only the third and fourth players in NFL history to throw for 300 yards in Week 1 of their rookie season (Peyton Manning, Cam Newton).
22: Games in which New England has had one 100-yard rusher
Second-year back Stevan Ridley rushed for 123 yards in the 34-13 mauling of the Tennessee Titans. It is only the second 100-yard rushing effort for the Patriots in its last 22 games. BenJarvus Green-Elllis back in Week 5 last season was the only Patriot to top the century mark rushing since December of 2010. The former LSU workhorse touched the ball 23 times for 152 yards from scrimmage and one hard-nosed touchdown. The Pats won their NFL-best ninth straight season opener and actually look better than the Super Bowl runner-up squad from a year ago. Ridley brings a physical presence to the backfield and his continued success would make stopping the New England offense virtually impossible.
:14 Seconds it took Minnesota to tie the game
The Minnesota Vikings scored to take the lead against the Jaguars with 9:42 seconds left in the third quarter. The Vikes led the entire rest of the game until, with 20 seconds left to play, Blaine Gabbert connected on what was all but sure to be the game-winning touchdown pass. But Christian Ponder took over at his own 31 yard line and proceeded to complete three passes for 32 yards in a drive that lasted 14 seconds and ended with a 55-yard game-tying field goal from rookie kicker Blair Walsh.
8: Total interceptions thrown by Cleveland and Philadelphia
Rookie Brandon Weeden was making his first career start against one of the NFL's top secondaries. He has some excuses for throwing four interceptions on Sunday, but Michael Vick doesn't have too many for his four interceptions. The Eagles won a sloppy, ugly game in which Vick threw a career-high 56 passes and neither team looked like it belonged in the playoffs. At the end of the day, Vick made the big plays he needed to in order to win, but he knows everyone in a Eagles uniform will have to improve. The Browns, who weren't really concerned with a playoff seed, have now lost 13 of its last 14 season openers.
5, 53, 1: Tony Gonzalez' catches, yards and touchdowns in Arrowhead Stadium
If you polled everyone who claims to be at least a casual NFL fan, how many would know that Tony Gonzalez is No. 2 all-time with 1,154 receptions? It's Jerry Rice and then Gonzo. A total of 916 of those catches came in a Kansas City Chiefs uniform and 95 of those have gone for touchdowns — of which, only one will ever be scored in Arrowhead Stadium in a uniform that isn't red and gold. So when No. 88 stood in the KC endzone on Sunday, clad in the black and red colors of Atlanta, and dunked the football over the crossbar like he did 76 times as a Chief, was a surreal image for this diehard football fan. Gonzalez has posted eight straight seasons of at least 70 catches and his clutch play on Sunday indicates he isn't slowing down just yet. He will own every KC and NFL tight end receiving records in the book and will be only the second player to ever catch 1,200 passes. And the only number he really cares about? The 40-24 final score. The second he gracefully steps away from the game in the coming years, those boos you heard at Arrowhead on Sunday will instantly return to an overwhelming ovation. And rightly so, few deserve it more than Gonzalez.
- by Braden Gall