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PATRIOTS ONCE AGAIN RALLY FOR BIG WIN OVER BILLS
From Elias: The Patriots rallied from a 21-7 deficit in the third quarter to post a 52-28 victory at Buffalo. That was the second-largest margin of victory in NFL history by a team that trailed by 14 or more points in the second half. The largest was 35 points on November 30, 1941, one week before the attack on Pearl Harbor, when the Bears trailed the Eagles, 14-0, at halftime but rebounded for a 49-14 victory at Shibe Park.
If you think you've seen this before, well ... almost. On New Year's Day 10 months ago, New England rallied from a 21-0 deficit for a 49-21 win over the Bills at Gillette Stadium.
UNDRAFTED BOLDEN BREAKS OUT
From Elias: The Patriots had two players with 100-yard rushing games (Brandon Bolden and Stevan Ridley) and two with 100-yard receiving games (Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski) in Sunday's win. The most unexpected among those was surely Bolden's 137 yards on 16 carries. Bolden was the first undrafted NFL rookie to run for 100 yards in a September game since Nathan Wonsley of the Bucs gained 138 rushing yards against the Lions on Week 3 in 1986.
BREES TIES UNITAS' TD STREAK
From Elias: Drew Brees threw three touchdown passes in the Saints' 28-27 loss at Green Bay, and in so doing he tied Johnny Unitas' record of 47 consecutive games with a TD pass. Unitas had held that record outright since he broke Cecil Isbell's record streak of 22 games in November 1958.
Brees has thrown 114 touchdown passes during his current streak, 12 more than Unitas tossed during his run. But the difference in the average length of the TD passes during their respective streaks is stunning: Brees, 18.0 yards; Unitas, 25.5 yards, including 26 TD passes of 40 yards or longer.
ROOKIE ZUERLEIN MAKES NFL HISTORY
From Elias: Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals, including FGs of 60 and 58 yards, in the Rams' 19-13 win over the Seahawks. Zuerlein's 60-yarder was the longest in NFL history by a rookie, and he was the first player, rookie or otherwise, to kick two FGs longer than 55 yards in the same game. Morten Andersen in 1995 and Neil Rackers in 2004 each kicked a pair of 55-yard field goals in the same game.
RG3 & MORRIS FIND THE END ZONE AGAIN
From Elias: Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris each ran for a touchdown in the second quarter of the Redskins' 24-22 victory at Tampa. Griffin and Morris are the first teammates with at least four TD runs each in their team's first four games since O.J. Simpson and Jim Braxton did so for the Bills in 1975, and they are the first rookie teammates in NFL history to do so.
RIVERS IS QUICK TO A MILESTONE
From Elias: With a 21-yard completion to Malcom Floyd on the Chargers' first possession, Philip Rivers became the 63rd NFL passer to reach the 25,000-yard mark. It took Rivers 3144 passes to reach that milestone; only four of the others did so in fewer passes than Rivers: Kurt Warner, 3076; Ben Roethlisberger, 3109; Johnny Unitas, 3117; and Steve Young, 3120.
RYAN TIES 31-YEAR-OLD FALCONS RECORD
From Elias: Matt Ryan threw three touchdown passes in the Falcons' 30-28 victory over the Panthers. Ryan's total of 11 TD passes this season tied Atlanta's longstanding team record for one calendar month, set by Steve Bartkowski in November 1981 and previously matched by Wade Wilson in December 1992.
PEYTON'S PERFORMANCE WAS SHARP EVEN BY HIS OLD STANDARDS
From Elias: Peyton Manning passed for 338 yards and three touchdowns in the Broncos' 37-6 win over the Raiders. Over his last four active seasons with the Colts (2007-2010), Manning had only four 300-yard games with at least three TDs and no interceptions, as he did in his fourth game with Denver.
CARDINALS RALLY TO REMAIN UNDEFEATED
From Elias: The Cardinals improved to 4-0 when they overcame a 13-0 halftime deficit for a 24-21 overtime victory against the Dolphins. If you're looking for a sign that this is a different Cardinals team, try this: It was the first time since 1999 that Arizona won a game after trailing by at least 10 points at halftime. The Cardinals had lost each of their last 60 games of that type, which was the third-longest such streak in NFL history.
NINERS WIN AT NEW JERSEY AND THEY GET MILES TOO
From Elias: The 49ers' 34-0 victory over the Jets was their fifth win in the Eastern time zone over the last two seasons. Over the last two seasons, all other West Coast teams have a 2-8 combined record playing three time zones from home.
The Niners gained 245 rushing yards on Sunday. Over the last 15 seasons, only one other West Coast team posted a rushing total that high in the Eastern time zone. Oakland ran for 299 yards at Miami in 2007.
KAEPERNICK SHOWS REX & TEBOW HOW IT'S DONE
From Elias: Colin Kaepernick gained 50 yards, including a touchdown, on five carries in the 49ers' win. Kaepernick's 30-yard run was the longest by a Niners' quarterback since Jeff Garcia ran for 30 yards against the Cardinals in 2000.
LIONS YIELD TWO RETURN TDs FOR 2nd STRAIGHT WEEK
From Elias: Percy Harvin returned the opening kickoff 105 yards and Marcus Sherels scored on a 77-yard punt return in the third quarter to lead the Vikings to a 20-13 win at Detroit. The Lions have played in the NFL for 82 seasons, including four as the Portsmouth Spartans (1930-1933). During that time, they have played 1159 games (including 18 in the postseason). Until last Sunday, Detroit had never allowed TDs on a punt return and a kickoff return in the same game. But yesterday, the Lions became the first team in NFL history to do so in consecutive games.
TEXANS SCORE ON A PAIR OF LONG INT RETURNS
From Elias: Danieal Manning (55 yards) and Kareem Jackson (63 yards) scored on long interception returns in the second half as the Texans coasted to a 38-14 win over the Titans. Over the last 15 seasons, only one other pair of teammates scored on INT returns of at least 50 yards in the same half: Nick Collins (62 yards) and Aaron Rouse (99 yards) of the Packers against Peyton Manning and the Colts in 2008.
Matt Hasselbeck, who threw Tennessee's two INTs against Houston, was also beaten for two pick-sixes in his last six games of the 2011 season.
WATT EXTENDS NFL LEAD IN SACKS
From Elias: J.J. Watt added a pair of sacks on Sunday, increasing his league-leading total to 7.5 this season. That is the highest sack total during the month of September since Michael Sinclair of the Seahawks recorded eight sacks in September 1996.
PRICE IS TAMPA BAY'S FIRST 20-GAME WINNER
From Elias: David Price improved his record to 20-5 in the Rays' victory at Chicago. Price is the first pitcher to win 20 games in a season for Tampa Bay, leaving Colorado as the only current major-league franchise that has never had a 20-game winner. Ubaldo Jimenez owns the Rockies single-season record for wins (19-8 in 2010). Jered Weaver posted his 20th win against four losses on Friday night. There's been only one season in which two American League pitchers finished with 20 or more wins and no more than five losses. That was in 2002, and the pitchers who did it were Oakland's Barry Zito (23-5) and Boston's Pedro Martinez (20-4).
JETER AND COBB, COBB AND JETER
From Elias: Derek Jeter went 3-for-5 in the Yankees' come-from-behind win at Toronto. Jeter has 213 hits this season, but it was the 212th hit that was historically noteworthy. With that knock, Jeter broke Ty Cobb's record for the most hits in a season by a player who entered the year with 3000 or more career hits. Cobb had 211 hits under those circumstances in both 1922 and 1924. Jeter's 212th hit of the season was also the 3300th hit of his career. Among the ten players who've reached that milestone, only Cobb (age 36 in 1923) got there at a younger age than Jeter (38 years, 96 days).
MEDLEN 9-0 AS A STARTER THIS SEASON
From Elias: Kris Medlen defeated the Mets in what was presumably his final start of the regular season. Medlen is 9-0 in 12 starts this year, which would tie the major-league record for the most wins in an undefeated season by a starting pitcher. Only three pitchers have completed seasons with 9-0 marks as starters: Tom Zachary (1929 Yankees), Whitey Ford (1950 Yankees) and Ken Holtzman (1967 Cubs).
AS CLUTCH AS CLUTCH GETS
From Elias: With Los Angeles down to its final out, Torii Hunter's two-run double off of his former teammate, Joe Nathan, gave the Angels a 5-4 lead that stood up as the final score in the first of two games at Texas on Sunday. It was the third time in Hunter's career that he drove in runs during an at-bat in the ninth inning or later that turned a deficit into a lead. His two previous hits of that ilk were home runs, both since he joined the Angels (a grand slam on April 7, 2008 versus Cleveland and a two-run shot at Kansas City on May 30, 2011).
NAPOLI TO ANGELS: "REMEMBER ME?"
From Elias: Mike Napoli hit a pair of home runs and drove in six runs to lead the Rangers to a come-from-behind victory over the Angels in the second game of their split-admission doubleheader. Over the last three seasons, the only other major-leaguer with a multiple-homer, six-RBI game against a team he used to play for is Justin Smoak, who did it earlier this year for the Mariners at Texas (May 30). Napoli hit six home runs against the Angels this season, as he did in 2011. The only other former Angels player ever to hit six or more home runs versus the Halos in one season is Bobby Bonds, who went deep seven times against California in 1978, also for the Rangers.
BACK-TO-BACK MONTHS WITH 30 RBI
From Elias: Chase Headley drove in a run in the Padres' loss to the Giants to give him 30 RBI during September, after he drove in 31 runs in August. Over the last 13 years (2000-2012), the only other major-leaguer to register 30 or more RBI in each of two consecutive calendar months was the Cardinals' Albert Pujols in 2006 (April and May). Headley is the first player with two 30-RBI months for the Padres, not only in consecutive months and not only in two months within one season, but in his career with San Diego.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
From Elias: Prince Fielder's 30th home run of the season was the deciding shot in the Tigers' 2-1 win at Minnesota. Prince and Cecil Fielder became the second father-son combo in major-league history to have 30-homer seasons for the same franchise. They joined Bobby and Barry Bonds, who did it for the Giants. The only other father-son duo to each register 30-homer seasons regardless of team affiliation was Felipe and Moises Alou. Felipe did it for the Braves; Moises did so for the Astros (twice) and Cubs.
DODGERS HAVE THEIR WAY WITH DE LA ROSA
From Elias: The Dodgers defeated Jorge De La Rosa for their fifth straight win as they completed a three-game series sweep of the Rockies. De La Rosa is 0-7 against the Dodgers in his career. The only other active pitcher who lost his first seven decisions against the Dodgers is Matt Cain, who lost eight in a row to L.A. before breaking the seal in 2010.
O'S BEAT UP ON BOSTON
From Elias: The Orioles completed a sweep of their three-game series against the Red Sox on Sunday and they finished their season series against Boston with a 13-5 record. It's the first time that Baltimore registered as many as 13 wins in one season against the Red Sox since 1970 (13-5).
SAVES TO CONTACT
From Elias: Jim Johnson notched his 50th save of the season for Baltimore in typical fashion when he retired the Red Sox in order in the ninth inning on a fly out and two ground outs. Johnson has only 41 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings this season. There have been 12 instances of pitchers recording 50 or more saves in one season and Johnson is the first pitcher with fewer than 60 strikeouts at the time of his 50th save.
HAMELS LOVES THE NEW BALLPARK
From Elias: Cole Hamels allowed only one run in seven innings to defeat the Marlins. Hamels, who shut out the Marlins in his previous visit to Miami, allowed a fourth-inning run on Sunday that snapped his streak of 14 straight scoreless innings at Marlins Park, spanning three starts (June 30, his shutout on August 13 and Sunday's game). That's the longest streak of consecutive shutout innings for any pitcher in that ballpark's brief history. Hamels surpassed a 12-inning scoreless streak at Miami by Kris Medlen (July 23 to September 19, a streak that Medlen will carry into the 2013 season).
NO SOPHOMORE SLUMP FOR LYNN
From Elias: Lance Lynn allowed four runs in only 5 1/3 innings but that was good enough for him to improve his record to 18-7 this season as the Cardinals beat the Nationals, 10-4. Lynn is the first Cardinals pitcher to win as many as 18 games in his sophomore season (or, if you prefer, the year immediately following his rookie season) since Ernie Broglio posted a 21-9 mark in 1960.
MILLER TIME FOR THE ASTROS
From Elias: Fernando Martinez, Jordan Lyles, Jed Lowrie and Matt Dominguez all homered off Mike Fiers in the Astros' 7-0 triumph at Milwaukee on Sunday, after Houston homered four times in its 7-6 win at Miller Park on Friday night. The Astros had hit as many as four homers in a game only once this season before their weekend visit to Milwaukee (June 10 at U.S. Cellular Field). This was the first time that Houston hit four or more home runs in two different games of a road series since June 26-27, 2001 at Arizona.
REDS BEAT HANRAHAN WITH TWO RUNS IN THE NINTH
From Elias: Xavier Paul led off the ninth inning with a pinch-hit, game-tying home run off Joel Hanrahan and Zack Cozart capped the Reds' subsequent rally with an RBI double that held up as the game-winner in Cincinnati's 4-3 victory at Pittsburgh. Hanrahan had converted 16 consecutive save opportunities before Sunday's failure; that was the second longest such streak of his career. Hanrahan converted 28 straight save chances spanning the 2010 and 2011 seasons.