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Over the last three seasons, Calvin Johnson has caught 5,137 yards of passes. That’s an incredible amount, and the most by a player over any three-year span in NFL history. That stat by itself isn’t proof of Johnson’s greatness – after all, Detroit has thrown 2,040 passes over the last three years, also the most in any three-year span in football history. But records are not just about greatness: records are a function of era, teammates, and many more elements than pure ability.

So can Calvin Johnson break Jerry Rice’s career receiving yards record? The odds are very long that Johnson will go down in history as a better receiver than Rice, but his odds at breaking his receiving yards record – almost by definition – are a little higher. The man known as Megatron has 9,328 career receiving yards, the third most of any player through his age 28 season. That gives him a 1,462-yard lead on Rice at this age, although Johnson will have to keep up his outstanding pace for a very long time if he wants to capture the record. As the graph below shows, Johnson has had an edge on Rice in career receiving yards through every age of his career to date, but it was Rice’s work in his thirties that separated the GOAT from the pack: [click to continue…]

Megatron at his best

Megatron at his best.

In his seven-year career, Calvin Johnson has already recorded 9,328 receiving yards. And for those curious about these sorts of things, he’s the career leader in receiving yards per game at 88.0, too. But Johnson has also benefited greatly from playing on teams that have thrown a weighted average of 635 pass attempts per season.

What is a weighted average of team pass attempts? I’m defining it as an average of pass attempts per season weighted by the number of receiving yards by that player. Why use that instead of a simple average? When thinking about whether a receiver played for a run-heavy or pass-happy team, we tend to think of that receiver during his peak years. If he caught 10 passes for 150 yards as a rookie on a very pass-happy team, that should not be given the same weight as the number of pass attempts his team produced in his best season. For example, here is how I derived the 635 attempt number for Megatron.

Twenty-one percent of his career receiving yards came in 2012, when Detroit passed 740 times (excluding sacks). Therefore, 21% of his team pass attempts average comes from that season, while 18% comes from his 2011 season, 16% from his 2013 season, and so on. In the table below, the far right column shows how we get to that 635 figure: by multiplying in each season the percentage of career receiving yards recorded by him in that season by Detroit’s Team Pass Attempts.

YrRecYdTPAPercTM * %

There are 121 players with 7,000 career receiving yards. Unsurprisingly, Johnson has the highest weighted average number of team pass attempts, which must be recognized when fawning over his great raw totals. Marques Colston is just a hair behind Johnson, but no other player has an average of 600+ team pass attempts.

The table below contains data for all 121 players (by default, the table displays only the top 25, but you can change that). Here’s how to read it, starting with the GOAT: Jerry Rice ranks first in career receiving yards, and he played from 1985 to 2004. Rice played in 303 games, gained 22,895 receiving yards, and his teams threw a weighted average of 547 passes per season. Among these 121 players, that rank Rice as playing for the 25th highest or most pass-happy team. Rice also averaged 76 receiving yards per game, which ranks 5th among this group. [click to continue…]


Interactive Trivia: Jerry Rice And [_______]

One of only two players to ...

One of only two players to ...

If you play with enough filters of the “my dad can beat up your sister” variety, you can get some pretty counter-intuitive results. For example, Jerry Rice and DeSean Jackson are the only two players in NFL history to catch 350 passes, gain 6,000 receiving yards, and average 17.1 yards per reception through their first six seasons. Here’s proof.

Here’s another one: Jerry Rice and Brett Favre are the only two players to ever catch a pass after turning 40 years old.

Like touchdowns? Rice and Cris Carter are the only two players to catch 35+ touchdowns from inside of five yards.

And one more: Jerry Rice and Doug Flutie are the only two players to ever score a touchdown after turning 42 years old.

But putting Rice in a group with Hall of Famer (or future Hall of Famer) isn’t very fun, and even Flutie and Jackson are good enough players that the trivia isn’t shocking. Hence today’s post: I want to see who can come up with the worst player to be in a bit of Rice trivia along these same lines. I will defer to mob rule to select a winning entry.

The rules:

1) The trivia must take this form: “Jerry Rice and [___] are the only two players…”

2) Everyone must be eligible, so no restrictions based on team. So it can’t be “Rice and Terrell Owens were the only two 49ers to… or “Rice and Deacon Jones are the only two players from Mississippi Valley State to….”. However, a “Rice and [__] are the only two players to [________] for two or more teams would be acceptable. Make sense? If not, hey, give it a shot and maybe the crowds will approve.

Fire away, and remember, the PFR play index is your friend. Multiple entries are not just permitted, but encouraged.


Jones catches another bomb

Jones catches another bomb.

In November, I noted that Chris Johnson was the career leader in average length of rushing touchdown. Since then, he’s actually dropped to number two, as his six rushing touchdowns covered “only” 84 yards in November and December. But what about the career leader in average length of receiving touchdown?

That title belongs to former Giants wide receiver Homer Jones.  A star in the late ’60s, 19 of Jones’ 36 career touchdowns went for 50 or more yards. The table below shows all 413 players to record at least 35 receiving touchdowns (including the postseason) from 1940 to 2013.  While Jones leads in average touchdown length, I think it makes more sense to sort the list by median touchdown length, although that doesn’t matter much for Jones.  For each player listed, I’ve included both their average and median touchdown length, the years they played, and a best guess at their primary position.  The table by default shows 50 entries, but you can change that; in addition, the table is fully sortable and searchable. [click to continue…]


Longest streaks as a favorite



On its own, this week five game against San Francisco doesn’t stand out as anything special. The 0-4 Rams were traveling to San Francisco with Jamie Martin at quarterback, who led the team to just 10 points the previous week in Dallas after Kurt Warner broke his pinky finger. The 49ers were coming off of a bye week, and would send Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens to the Pro Bowl, while Garrison Hearst and Kevan Barlow led a top-six ground game. San Francisco should have, and did, win convincingly.

The reason that’s a notable game is precisely because the 49ers were six-point favorites. That marked the first time since week 2, 1999 — when the Rams had not yet been recognized as the Greatest Show on Turf — that St. Louis was not favored to win a game. For the final 14 regular season games and the three playoff games in 1999, all seventeen games in 2000, all 19 games in 2001, and the first four games in 2002 — a stretch of 57 straight games — the Rams took the field as favorites. That’s the longest streak since 1978, and perhaps ever. And I’m not sure if this makes that fact more of less impressive, but all things considered, the Rams’ record wasn’t that great during the stretch. Part of the reason for the streak was that St. Louis generally had a weak schedule those years, but continually being favored to win games without a great record is an interesting (and rare) sign of respect.

TeamStreakYear StartYear EndRecordStreak Ender
STL571999200240-17-0 vs. SFO
SFO391984198630-9-0 vs. MIA
DAL361981198326-10-0 vs. SFO
PIT351978198026-9-0 vs. HOU
SFO341989199029-5-0 vs. NYG
CHI331985198728-5-0 vs. DEN
SFO291991199324-5-0 vs. DAL
SFO281994199521-7-0 vs. DAL
WAS281991199223-5-0 vs. KAN
DAL271993199423-4-0 vs. SFO
DAL231995199616-7-0 vs. PHI
GNB211997199816-5-0 vs. MIN
DEN211998199917-4-0 vs. TAM
NWE202007200819-1-0 vs. NYJ

[click to continue…]


Franchises Nemeses: Receiving Stats

On Wednesday, I looked at the players who threw for the most yards and touchdowns against each franchise. Yesterday, I did the same with rushing statistics. Today we will close out the series with a look at the key receiving stats.

Let’s again start with some trivia.

Which player has the most career receptions against one franchise?

Click Show for the Answer Show

What about the most receiving yards?

Click Show for the Answer Show

And finally, any guesses as to the most receiving touchdowns?

Click Show for the Answer Show

Now that the most obvious trivia of the day is out of the way, let’s get to the career lists. Let’s start with the career receptions list.
[click to continue…]


Jerry Rice’s records are essentially unbreakable. Over a marvelous twenty-year career, Rice caught 41 more touchdowns than Randy Moss, 44 more than Terrell Owens, and 67 more than every player other than Moss and Owens. He also holds the overall touchdowns mark, with 33 more touchdowns than Emmitt Smith, 46 more than LaDainian Tomlinson, and over 50 touchdowns more than every other player in NFL history. If you check the NFL records books, no player has finished his career with more than 16,000 receiving yards and fewer than 22,895 receiving yards: that’s how wide the gulf is between @JerryRice and the rest of the great wide receivers.

But there is one record that possibly, maybe, hey you never know could be broken. Jerry Rice is the career leader with 1,549 receptions. For some perspective, Steve Largent was the first player to reach the 800 receptions mark, and Art Monk passed Largent in 1992. Rice caught the still-active Monk in the final game of the 1995 regular season. Monk would retire after the season with 940 catches to his name; as he laced up his cleats for the last time, he was the career leader in receptions. When he came off the field that day, he had been relegated to number two. That’s because 700 miles away, Rice caught 12 passes against the Falcons, bringing his career total up to 942. Oh, and Rice also set the single-season record for receiving yards that day, too. Rice turned 34 in 1996; up until that point, only Charlie Joiner (325) had recorded more than 300 receptions after his age 33 season. Even though Rice missed nearly the entire 1997 season due to injury, he still caught 607 passes after 1995. Which is why we always assumed this record was unbreakable.

However, as teams began passing more frequently (and more conservatively) than ever before, some modern receivers have compiled massive receptions totals. Did you know that Tony Gonzalez is number two all-time in career receptions? With 1,242 catches, Gonzalez has a 140-catch lead on #3 man Marvin Harrison, but Gonzalez still trails Jerry Rice by 307 catches.

But what about Gonzalez’ statistical doppelganger, Jason Witten? Four years ago, I wrote that Witten was going to find himself in the Hall of Fame because of his massive numbers:

Jason Witten entered the NFL at age 21. That’s very young for a player at any position, let alone tight end. So how has he done?

  • Through age 22, he had more receptions and receiving yards than any other tight end.
  • Through age 23, he had more receptions and receiving yards than any other tight end.
  • Through age 25, he had more receptions and receiving yards than any other tight end.
  • Through age 26 (the 2008 season), he had more receptions and receiving yards than any other tight end.
  • With 40 receptions and 472 receiving yards in 2009, he will have more receptions and more receiving yards than any other tight end through the age of twenty-seven.

Witten hasn’t slowed down since I wrote that article. With 806 receptions, he has the most catches of any player through age 30 in history (although Larry Fitzgerald should catch him next year). I thought it would be interesting to chart the career receptions totals of Rice, Witten, and Gonzalez. The graph below shows the career receptions of each player at the end of each season, with age on the X-axis and career receptions on the Y-axis. Witten is in Cowboys blue and silver; unfortunately Chiefs fans, I chose to reserve red and gold for Rice, leaving Gonzalez in Falcons black and red.

Rice Witten Gonzalez career receptions

Even now, Gonzalez has a lead on Rice, and he’ll be 36 catches ahead of Rice after 2013 even if he doesn’t catch a single pass. Of course, Rice went (literally) off the chart in his final years, making it essentially impossible for Gonzalez to catch him.

But Witten has basically had the same career as Gonzalez but with an even larger buffer against Rice. Witten’s lead on Gonzalez grew significantly this year thanks to a 110-catch season at age 30 (the year Gonzalez had just 73 catches), but ages 31 to 33 were ridiculous years for both Gonzalez and Rice. The odds are very much against Witten getting to 1,549 catches, but becoming the second player to hit the 1400-catch mark is a realistic (and incredibly impressive) goal.

The left columns in the table below shows the number of career receptions through each age for each of Rice, Gonzalez, and Witten. The right three columns show the number of catches by each player at each age.

AgeRice (C)Gonzalez (C)Witten (C)Rice (S)Gonzalez (S)Witten (S)

Witten has a nearly 200-catch lead on Rice through age thirty. If we assume Witten can stay healthy in each of the next five years, he’ll get an even bigger buffer when he hits age 35. If we give Witten 351 catches over the next five years, he’ll be at 1157, giving him a 100-catch lead on Rice. Based on what Rice did after age 35, that’s not going to be anywhere near enough. If Witten wants a realistic shot, he’s going to need to keep pumping out 90-100 catch seasons for the next four years, at least. In any event, Witten will be able to keep this dream up for awhile: he needs just 38 catches in 2013 to end the year with the most receptions of any player through age thirty-one.


I was planning on ignoring the latest Randy Moss news, using that word liberally as it applies to things said on media day. In case you missed it, Moss said yesterday that he believes he is the greatest receiver of all time. Moss is an obvious future Hall of Famer, but Jason Lisk gave Moss’ comments the appropriate treatment yesterday.

Today, though, Moss upped the ante by noting that “Jerry Rice had two Hall of Fame QBs his whole career. Give me that and see where my numbers are.” Yes, Rice was fortunate to play with Joe Montana and Steve Young, , but there is a pretty simple response to that. I wrote that response when Rice was a finalist for the Hall of Fame three years ago. You can read the full HOF profile I wrote on Rice, but I’ve reprinted Part III below:
[click to continue…]


Moss makes turkeys out of the Cowboys

Moss was very good when his teams won.

Last weekend, I looked at career rushing stats in wins and losses, and yesterday, I did the same for quarterbacks. Today we will check out the splits for receivers.

I looked at all games, including playoffs, from 1960 to 2011, for all players with at least 4,000 receiving yards over that time period. The table below lists the following information for each player:

– His first year (or 1960, if he played before 1960) and his last year (or 2011, if still active)
– All the franchises he played for (which you can search for in the search box)
– His number of career wins, and his career receptions, receiving yards, yards per reception, and receiving yards per game in wins
– His number of career losses, and his career receptions, receiving yards, yards per reception, and receiving yards per game in losses

You might be surprised to see Andre Johnson at the top of the list, but his career average should decline the longer he plays; that said, 2012 didn’t drop his numbers. On the flip side, Calvin Johnson moves up into the #2 slot; part of that was due to a great season (although Detroit didn’t get many wins) and part of that was due to Randy Moss slipping. Larry Fitzgerald comes up high on the list for the same reason as both Johnsons, although it’s often easy to forget how great Fitzgerald can be thanks to his current situation.

The table is sorted by receiving yards per game in wins:

1Andre Johnson2003--2011htxWR52325473914.5891.172394511812.9971.1
2Randy Moss1998--2010min-rai-nwe-otiWR114597996016.6887.493404576314.2662
3Michael Irvin1988--1999dalWR106560913316.3186.262277408614.7565.9
4Larry Fitzgerald2004--2011crdWR59352502114.2685.171383529913.8474.6
5Calvin Johnson2007--2011detWR23113192917.0783.954265415415.6876.9
6Lance Alworth1962--1972sdg-dalFL-WR83360687219.0982.842172309417.9973.7
7Jerry Rice1985--2004sfo-rai-seaWR20710991690915.3981.7118598817313.6769.3
8Art Powell1960--1968nyj-rai-buf-minSE-WR51244416017.0581.645215347716.1777.3
9Jimmy Smith1995--2005jaxWR96512782915.2981.680390510513.0963.8
10Torry Holt1999--2009ram-jaxWR93486741615.2679.789481659613.7174.1
11Charley Hennigan1960--1966otiWR44209350116.7579.640201321315.9980.3
12Steve Smith2001--2011carWR75390589815.1278.684356516214.561.5
13Del Shofner1960--1967ram-nygE41165321319.4778.43186122414.2339.5
14Dwayne Bowe2007--2011kanWR25118194816.5177.949238297912.5260.8
15Don Maynard1960--1973nyj-crdWR-HB79298615020.6477.876305509116.6967
16Terrell Owens1996--2010sfo-phi-dal-buf-cinWR1316551012715.4677.395477655813.7569
17Marvin Harrison1996--2008cltWR125723964913.3577.281444581413.0971.8
18Sterling Sharpe1988--1994gnbWR52292393713.4875.762314442614.171.4
19DeSean Jackson2008--2011phiWR39149293419.6975.22593136414.6754.6
20Wesley Walker1977--1989nyjWR73272548520.1775.171185319517.2745
21Herman Moore1991--2001detWR63314471215.0174.877383493612.8964.1
22Charlie Brown1982--1987was-atlWR42177313417.7174.62171101414.2848.3
23Sonny Randle1960--1968crd-sfo-dalE-WR45178333018.717445155218714.1148.6
24Greg Jennings2006--2011gnbWR61279449316.173.734151224314.8566
25Reggie Wayne2001--2011cltWR122639893813.9973.363306389812.7461.9
26John Jefferson1978--1985sdg-gnb-cleWR54238395316.6173.244131209115.9647.5
27Terry Glenn1996--2007nwe-gnb-dalWR793795686157261246357414.5358.6
28Darnay Scott1994--2002cin-dalWR40171285216.6871.377237334114.143.4
29Buddy Dial1960--1966pit-dalSE-FL35112249422.2771.331110205018.6466.1
30Isaac Bruce1994--2009ram-sfoWR114529811915.3571.2110539784814.5671.3
31Gary Clark1985--1995was-crd-miaWR107484760915.7271.166273407314.9261.7
32Carl Pickens1992--2000cin-otiWR39212274612.9570.484328438313.3652.2
33Homer Jones1964--1970nyg-cleSE-WR3291224024.627047131257319.6454.7
34Marques Colston2006--2011norWR61313426013.6169.832181260814.4181.5
35Cris Carter1987--2002phi-min-miaWR132701918513.169.6101463558412.0655.3
36Al Toon1985--1992nyjWR48251333613.2969.558287355112.3761.2
37Anquan Boldin2003--2011crd-ravWR65332448213.56967405518812.8177.4
38Pete Retzlaff1960--1966phiWR-TE42155288918.6468.842181280715.5166.8
39Chad Ochocinco2001--2011cin-nweWR74350508414.5368.789419604914.4468
40Steve Largent1976--1989seaWR99419679716.2268.7106423672615.963.5
41Raymond Berry1960--1967cltE57263391114.8768.632149197813.2861.8
42Gary Garrison1966--1977sdg-otiWR-SE55192376419.668.463201355717.756.5
43Darrell Jackson2000--2008sea-sfo-denWR61282414714.716863258348813.5255.4
44Mike Quick1982--1990phiWR39142264518.6367.857216366416.9664.3
45James Lofton1978--1993gnb-rai-buf-ram-phiWR109395738718.767.8115402725418.0463.1
46Rob Moore1990--1999nyj-crdWR59269399814.8667.894374557214.959.3
47Fred Barnett1990--1997phi-miaWR59243397716.3767.438136166812.2643.9
48Kellen Winslow1979--1987sdgTE58320390812.2167.455249321312.958.4
49George Sauer1965--1970nyjSE-WR45172301917.5567.130137197714.4365.9
50Joe Horn1996--2007kan-nor-atlWR71319473914.8666.777285405514.2352.7
51Otis Taylor1965--1974kanWR-FL75265498518.8166.541146232315.9156.7
52Mark Duper1983--1992miaWR88324583918.0266.455219362516.5565.9
53Bob Hayes1965--1975dal-sfoSE-WR87268567921.1965.341126212816.8951.9
54Steve Watson1979--1987denWR63223411218.4465.339147231415.7459.3
55Roddy White2005--2011atlWR62296403213.626553256353513.8166.7
56Rod Smith1995--2006denWR121575786513.686564323438413.5768.5
57Flipper Anderson1988--1995ram-cltWR3499220422.2664.858175332318.9957.3
58Eddie Brown1985--1991cinWR53175343119.6164.751197280214.2254.9
59Wes Welker2004--2011sdg-mia-nweWR86509555410.9164.645194211010.8846.9
60Derrick Alexander1994--2002cle-rav-kan-minWR48167309218.5164.469251390915.5756.7
61Andre Reed1985--2000buf-wasWR134599862114.3964.3106437580613.2954.8
62Antonio Gates2003--2011sdgTE80375512413.6664.153257310812.0958.6
63Wes Chandler1978--1988nor-sdg-sfoWR61234389416.6463.884348541915.5764.5
64Anthony Miller1988--1997sdg-den-dalWR71272451216.5963.582332477314.3858.2
65Al Denson1964--1971den-minWR-TE2589158117.7663.24916326081653.2
66Antonio Freeman1995--2003gnb-phiWR95375597815.9462.941155209613.5251.1
67Lee Evans2004--2011buf-ravWR51174320318.4162.867211287413.6242.9
68Plaxico Burress2000--2011pit-nyg-nyjWR95385592315.3862.357202296914.752.1
69Santana Moss2001--2011nyj-wasWR74285460616.1662.288387496312.8256.4
70Brandon Marshall2006--2011den-miaWR43214267612.562.248280357112.7574.4
71Keyshawn Johnson1996--2006nyj-tam-dal-carWR92447569112.7361.982406544913.4266.5
72Joey Galloway1995--2010sea-dal-tam-nwe-wasWR85321520516.2161.2107393590415.0255.2
73Muhsin Muhammad1996--2009car-chiWR105477640713.436196413558913.5358.2
74Henry Ellard1983--1998ram-was-nweWR99343604017.6161125492807916.4264.6
75Tommy McDonald1960--1968phi-dal-ram-atl-cleWR-HB49166297917.9560.861222349315.7357.3
76Anthony Carter1985--1995min-detWR80293485316.5660.762233353515.1757
77Art Monk1980--1995was-nyj-phiWR142631860913.6460.695378517413.6954.5
78Red Phillips1960--1967ram-minE2494145515.4860.653214314714.7159.4
79Roger Carr1974--1983clt-sea-sdgWR40110242522.0560.660163268116.4544.7
80Paul Flatley1963--1970min-atlWR-FL34117206117.6260.655179274215.3249.9
81David Boston1999--2005crd-sdg-miaWR27109162614.9260.247206307314.9265.4
82Ernest Givins1986--1995oti-jaxWR75320451614.1160.280311447314.3855.9
83Dwight Clark1979--1987sfoWR81343487214.260.146216264812.2657.6
84Santonio Holmes2006--2011pit-nyjWR57211342516.2360.138152221214.5558.2
85Paul Warfield1964--1977cle-miaWR-SE115340689220.2759.947132249718.9253.1
86Laveranues Coles2000--2009nyj-was-cinWR71323425313.1759.981378463812.2757.3
87Jimmy Orr1960--1970pit-cltWR73219437219.9659.938119211917.8155.8
88Elbert Dubenion1960--1967bufWR-HB53159317219.9559.842127207516.3449.4
89Ken Burrough1970--1981nor-otiWR67222397717.9159.480204323015.8340.4
90Stephone Paige1983--1991kanWR57180336118.675963203308915.2249
91Todd Christensen1980--1988raiTE-FB66306388812.7158.941186234212.5957.1
92Louis Lipps1984--1992pit-norWR48169282716.7358.963204337616.5553.6
93Jeff Graham1991--2001pit-chi-nyj-phi-sdgWR57222334515.0758.785335506415.1259.6
94Harold Jackson1969--1983phi-ram-nwe-min-seaWR-FL100296586419.8158.684292483516.5657.6
95Tim Brown1988--2004rai-tamWR135562790714.0758.6127577760813.1959.9
96Tony Martin1990--2001mia-sdg-atlWR103369603116.3458.676267373213.9849.1
97John Stallworth1974--1987pitWR103361602316.6858.558230368716.0363.6
98Eric Martin1985--1994nor-kanWR85315496915.7758.568253339613.4249.9
99Stanley Morgan1977--1990nwe-cltWR99298578719.4258.586278525018.8861
100Alfred Jenkins1975--1983atlWR50170290317.0858.160196357118.2259.5
101Jason Witten2003--2011dalTE77381445711.757.967343374510.9255.9
102Kellen Winslow Jr.2004--2011cle-tamTE34153196712.8657.958284286910.149.5
103Braylon Edwards2005--2011cle-nyj-sfoWR48172275916.0457.557184288415.6750.6
104Cris Collinsworth1981--1988cinWR60216344615.9557.448222360616.2475.1
105Gene A. Washington1969--1979sfo-detWR-SE60178344519.3557.469210353516.8351.2
106John Gilliam1967--1977nor-crd-min-atlWR-FL69206394719.1657.270176301717.1443.1
107Chris Burford1960--1967kanSE-WR52205297114.4957.138157229214.660.3
108Max McGee1960--1967gnbE57177324418.3356.91956106719.0556.2
109Charlie Joiner1969--1986oti-cin-sdgWR114404647616.0356.8114375613216.3553.8
110Tony Hill1977--1986dalWR97335550816.4456.846190309816.3167.3
111Bernie Casey1961--1968sfo-ramFB-WR45162254715.7256.644160233114.5753
112Charley Taylor1964--1977wasWR-RB87341491814.4256.570297407113.7158.2
113Javon Walker2002--2009gnb-den-raiWR45157253716.1656.438123176014.3146.3
114Jerry Butler1979--1986bufWR38139213915.3956.347146228515.6548.6
115Carlos Carson1980--1989kan-phiWR50147280919.1156.263203344416.9754.7
116Webster Slaughter1986--1998cle-oti-kan-nyj-sdgWR76276426515.4556.184314424313.5150.5
117Hines Ward1998--2011pitWR145684812911.8856.183393499612.7160.2
118Gail Cogdill1960--1970det-atlSE-WR54172302317.585653164243114.8245.9
119Johnny Morris1960--1967chiFL-HB51189284715.0655.837141179412.7248.5
120Chris Chambers2001--2010mia-sdg-kanWR74273412715.1255.876291392813.551.7
121Cliff Branch1972--1984raiWR129401718417.9255.749170273916.1155.9
122Andre Rison1989--2000clt-atl-cle-jax-gnb-kan-raiWR92361512014.1855.792411550013.3859.8
123Reggie Rucker1970--1981dal-nyg-nwe-cleWR70235389016.5555.679215323415.0440.9
124Eddie Kennison1996--2007ram-nor-chi-den-kanWR75245416316.9955.5102306423213.8341.5
125Antonio Bryant2002--2009dal-cle-sfo-tamWR40148221714.9855.464225347215.4354.3
126Donald Driver1999--2011gnbWR115471636813.5255.476313436713.9557.5
127Marty Booker1999--2009chi-mia-atlWR57242315313.0355.385299356811.9342
128Yancey Thigpen1992--2000pit-otiWR67227370116.355.233121180014.8854.5
129Tony Gonzalez1997--2011kan-atlTE122562672311.9655.1116603677211.2358.4
130Vance Johnson1985--1995denWR70269385614.3355.151183252013.7749.4
131Curtis Conway1993--2004chi-sdg-nyj-sfoWR61232335914.4855.197369495213.4251.1
132Roy Jefferson1965--1976pit-clt-wasWR-SE78251426516.9954.772217349416.148.5
133Fred Biletnikoff1965--1978raiWR-FL136475742415.6354.646148213714.4446.5
134Lionel Taylor1960--1968den-otiWR31136169112.4354.571405515312.7272.6
135Vincent Jackson2005--2011sdgWR63194342917.6854.433107182817.0855.4
136Jim Colclough1960--1968nweE49148266618.0154.445112187416.7341.6
137Carroll Dale1960--1973ram-gnb-minWR-TE91245494920.254.473211366017.3550.1
138Dave Parks1964--1973sfo-nor-otiWR-TE31107168115.7154.267215342415.9351.1
139Shannon Sharpe1990--2003den-ravTE131534710013.354.26934337741154.7
140Ben Hawkins1966--1973phiWR2875151720.2354.257171294517.2251.7
141Eric Moulds1996--2007buf-htx-otiWR89344480313.9654100435551212.6755.1
142Isaac Curtis1973--1984cinWR79226426318.865475203302214.8940.3
143Brian Blades1988--1998seaWR66268355613.2753.978318414213.0353.1
144Lynn Swann1974--1982pitWR94302505416.7453.83280130016.2540.6
145Deion Branch2002--2011nwe-seaWR94367504813.7553.751197238312.146.7
146Sammy White1976--1985minWR68211364617.2853.661188289315.3947.4
147Kevin House1980--1987tam-ramWR3089160818.0753.670218369316.9452.8
148Haywood Jeffires1987--1996oti-norWR65272348312.8153.668304336411.0749.5
149Roy Green1979--1992crd-phiWR76239406617.0153.5104318482615.1846.4
150Ahmad Rashad1972--1982crd-buf-minWR71271376913.9153.167236329513.9649.2
151Amani Toomer1996--2008nygWR110403583114.475389307423213.7947.6
152Bobby Mitchell1960--1968cle-wasWR-HB52175275015.7152.962263419215.9467.6
153Bill Brooks1986--1996clt-buf-wasWR74278391014.0652.885332440313.2651.8
154Harold Carmichael1971--1984phi-dalWR-TE82279430615.4352.599333500115.0250.5
155Drew Pearson1973--1983dalWR121391635016.2452.550165257715.6251.5
156Lance Rentzel1965--1974min-dal-ramWR-FL66180345819.2152.44294154416.4336.8
157Irving Fryar1984--2000nwe-mia-phi-wasWR119398623015.6552.4135477684514.3550.7
158Bert Emanuel1994--2001atl-tam-mia-nwe-detWR44158230014.5652.352202268313.2851.6
159Keenan McCardell1992--2007cle-jax-tam-sdg-wasWR123495642812.9952.387443556712.5764
160Aaron Thomas1961--1970sfo-nygTE-SE3587182821.0152.255170266515.6848.5
161Mark Clayton1983--1993mia-gnbWR102336530315.785265278417815.0364.3
162Jake Reed1992--2002min-norWR72251374214.915262225366616.2959.1
163Roy E. Williams2004--2011det-dal-chiWR46161238814.8351.966237338614.2951.3
164Henry Marshall1976--1987kanWR58188298215.8651.484234363515.5343.3
165John Taylor1987--1995sfoWR94302482515.9851.33591150716.5643.1
166Ricky Sanders1986--1995was-atlWR80286410514.3551.357228288912.6750.7
167Alvin Harper1991--1997dal-tam-wasWR56139287120.6551.32976125716.5443.3
168Frank Clarke1960--1967dalE37112188716.855151149295919.8658
169Marcus Robinson1998--2006chi-rav-minWR47160239414.9650.955172244114.1944.4
170T.J. Houshmandzadeh2001--2011cin-sea-rav-raiWR57253289311.4350.881370428611.5852.9
171Drew Hill1979--1993ram-oti-atlWR103334522015.6350.7105339515215.249.1
172Michael Jackson1991--1998cle-ravWR39127196915.550.562234355615.257.4
173Willie Davis1992--1998kan-otiWR61183307316.7950.444119166914.0337.9
174Boyd Dowler1960--1971gnb-wasFL-SE102324511215.7850.140119160013.4540
175Derrick Mason1997--2011oti-rav-nyj-htxWR141542705313.015097450560912.4657.8
176Johnnie Morton1994--2005det-kan-sfoWR75267374614.0349.997368509213.8452.5
177Mark Carrier1987--1998tam-cle-carWR64212318815.0449.8102366566815.4955.6
178Danny Abramowicz1967--1974nor-sfoE3097149415.449.874255388415.2352.5
179Wayne Chrebet1995--2005nyjWR69263343513.0649.881336419912.551.8
180Dave Kocourek1960--1968sdg-mia-raiTE-FL55157272717.3749.63798150915.440.8
181Ed McCaffrey1991--2003nyg-sfo-denWR106380521213.7249.258227276412.1847.7
182Michael Westbrook1995--2002was-cinWR39135191414.1849.142144236116.456.2
183Lionel Manuel1984--1990nygWR50143244417.0948.933103174016.8952.7
184Gary Collins1962--1971cleWR80240387716.1548.54295149715.7635.6
185Robert Brooks1992--2000gnb-denWR67226324414.3548.436128168313.1546.8
186Frank Sanders1995--2003crd-ravWR48178232313.0548.480336452813.4856.6
187Jerry Porter2000--2008rai-jaxWR38116183915.8548.462197257313.0641.5
188Mel Gray1971--1982crdWR65167311318.6447.978188354518.8645.4
189Tim McGee1986--1994cin-wasWR53145252617.4247.769183273714.9639.7
190Frank Lewis1971--1983pit-bufWR86229409817.947.758190311416.3953.7
191Bernard Berrian2004--2011chi-minWR58178276115.5147.652143182712.7835.1
192Sean Dawkins1993--2001clt-nor-sea-jaxWR54173256614.8347.578290396013.6650.8
193Willie Gault1983--1993chi-raiWR98227465320.547.558127247919.5242.7
194Dallas Clark2003--2011cltTE88358417511.6647.436133155911.7243.3
195Jessie Hester1985--1995rai-atl-clt-ramWR49133231817.4347.373241354814.7248.6
196Michael Haynes1988--1997atl-norWR52155245915.8647.381280428815.3152.9
197Haven Moses1968--1981buf-denWR-SE82199385619.384790253442517.4949.2
198Jackie Smith1963--1978crd-dalTE84226395017.484777235369615.7348
199Mark Jackson1986--1994den-nyg-cltWR74205347216.9446.953159249115.6747
200Terance Mathis1990--2002nyj-atl-pitWR86299400213.3846.5114419520612.4245.7
201Bob Chandler1971--1981buf-raiWR48145223315.446.567229305813.3545.6
202Milt Morin1966--1975cleTE56165259915.7546.446117171014.6237.2
203Reggie Langhorne1985--1993cle-cltWR63205292314.2646.459229287412.5548.7
204Pat Tilley1976--1986crdWR61189283014.9746.474280418614.9556.6
205John Mackey1963--1972clt-sdgTE89253412816.3246.43377113314.7134.3
206Michael Timpson1989--1997nwe-chi-phiWR41137190013.8746.361164215413.1335.3
207Bill Schroeder1997--2004gnb-det-tamWR50150231115.4146.247159234214.7349.8
208Chris Cooley2004--2011wasTE48187221111.8246.160252263510.4643.9
209Brett Perriman1988--1997nor-det-kan-miaWR74258339013.1445.872294352211.9848.9
210Dave Casper1974--1984rai-oti-minTE70230320213.9245.744175237713.5854
211Dave Logan1976--1984cle-denWR47133214716.1445.747133216616.2946.1
212Bobby Joe Conrad1960--1969crd-dalWR-HB62191283014.8245.655192256313.3546.6
213Koren Robinson2001--2008sea-min-gnbWR51159232514.6245.646150206313.7544.8
214Bobby Engram1996--2009chi-sea-kanWR80301364112.145.5101384458611.9445.4
215Gary Ballman1962--1973pit-phi-nyg-minWR-TE3589156517.5844.768212345116.2850.8
216Nat Moore1974--1986miaWR-RB119363531514.6444.755163231214.1842
217Duriel Harris1976--1985mia-cle-dalWR68185303716.4244.744133228417.1751.9
218Jack Snow1965--1975ramWR-SE85214377317.6344.442115197817.247.1
219Freddie Scott1974--1983clt-detWR3695159216.7644.258173276615.9947.7
220Ray Butler1980--1988clt-seaWR3490150316.744.264152254316.7339.7
221Devery Henderson2005--2011norWR64150282818.8544.247104169716.3236.1
222J.J. Stokes1995--2003sfo-jax-nweWR66238291312.2444.149141181212.8537
223Charlie Sanders1968--1977detTE60174264315.1944.150151199513.2139.9
224Kevin Johnson1999--2005cle-jax-rav-detWR38133167212.574463255306312.0148.6
225Donte Stallworth2002--2011nor-phi-nwe-cle-rav-wasWR61164265616.243.555170237213.9543.1
226Freddie Solomon1975--1985mia-sfoWR83214359516.843.363191278814.644.3
227Ben Coates1991--2000nwe-ravTE70276301910.9443.170249279411.2239.9
228Vernon Davis2006--2011sfoTE42150181112.0743.145164228413.9350.8
229Rocket Ismail1993--2001rai-car-dalWR61168261715.5842.965204286514.0444.1
230Qadry Ismail1993--2002min-mia-nor-rav-cltWR83228354415.5442.758143188013.1532.4
231O.J. McDuffie1993--2000miaWR71248300512.1242.352217267212.3151.4
232Mark Bavaro1985--1994nyg-cle-phiTE77239325413.6242.340142184512.9946.1
233James Jett1993--2001raiWR55127232218.2842.253142226915.9842.8
234Brent Jones1987--1997sfoTE113366476913.0342.233111116610.535.3
235Jeremy Shockey2002--2011nyg-nor-carTE82309345011.1742.161260291811.2247.8
236Chris Calloway1990--2000pit-nyg-atl-nweWR64170269115.834272223289112.9640.2
237David Patten1997--2008nyg-cle-nwe-was-norWR77200323616.184263144173912.0827.6
238J.T. Smith1978--1990was-kan-crdWR64211267112.6641.791323417212.9245.8
239Brandon Stokley1999--2011rav-clt-den-sea-nygWR80226329514.5841.249156200512.8540.9
240Calvin Williams1990--1996phi-ravWR58184238112.9441.141141174412.3742.5
241Nate Burleson2003--2011min-sea-detWR64210262612.54160204257612.6342.9
242Ron Jessie1971--1981det-ram-bufWR74181303116.75414396143114.9133.3
243Keith Jackson1988--1996phi-mia-gnbTE87288356012.3640.947204255712.5354.4
244Jeff Chadwick1983--1992det-sea-ramWR44103179917.4740.962191275014.444.4
245Curtis Duncan1987--1993otiWR58210236811.2840.842146184112.6143.8
246Mike Sherrard1986--1996dal-sfo-nyg-denWR62162252815.640.832104147614.1946.1
247Shawn Jefferson1991--2003sdg-nwe-atl-detWR96253391415.4740.888244339013.8938.5
248Marshall Faulk1994--2005clt-ramRB9942240229.5340.68939733728.4937.9
249Jabar Gaffney2002--2011htx-nwe-den-wasWR66199268113.4740.682269322311.9839.3
250Willie Green1991--1998det-tam-car-denWR55147223315.1940.635117184415.7652.7
251Todd Heap2001--2011rav-crdTE83273336912.3440.663250279111.1644.3
252Mike Ditka1961--1972chi-phi-dalTE80239324013.5640.554184241613.1344.7
253Torrance Small1992--2001nor-ram-clt-phi-nweWR51141205314.5640.371213262412.3237
254Peerless Price1999--2007buf-atl-dalWR54159215813.574067254324412.7748.4
255Mike Renfro1978--1987oti-dalWR53140211715.1239.960190275914.5246
256Quinn Early1988--1999sdg-nor-buf-nyjWR73203291414.3539.976278379013.6349.9
257Chris Burkett1985--1993buf-nyjWR41110163514.8639.966185277214.9842
258Ike Hilliard1997--2008nyg-tamWR79258314812.239.885312353411.3341.6
259Drew Bennett2001--2008oti-ramWR44116175215.139.853205286813.9954.1
260Jerricho Cotchery2004--2011nyj-pitWR62206246111.9539.758199276113.8747.6
261Mike Pritchard1991--1999atl-den-seaWR58172229713.3539.667263304311.5745.4
262Nate Washington2005--2011pit-otiWR55139217515.6539.545137189213.8142
263Riley Odoms1972--1983denTE83220327914.939.561176237913.5239
264Sam McCullum1974--1983min-seaWR51131200315.2939.363150212814.1933.8
265Jay Novacek1985--1995crd-dalTE84298328111.0139.152186199410.7238.3
266Ozzie Newsome1978--1990cleTE102324397712.273998365437611.9944.7
267Bob Trumpy1968--1977cinTE-WR60147233115.8638.958147210314.3136.3
268Raymond Chester1970--1981rai-cltTE80199309915.5738.763172214612.4834.1
269Travis Taylor2000--2007rav-min-rai-ramWR52153201313.1638.750172216212.5743.2
270Joe Jurevicius1998--2007nyg-tam-sea-cleWR68195262913.4838.751145183212.6335.9
271Wesley Walls1989--2003sfo-nor-car-gnbTE68206260412.6438.381253276610.9334.1
272Ricky Proehl1990--2006crd-sea-chi-ram-car-cltWR112299427914.3138.2117393496212.6342.4
273Bob Tucker1970--1980nyg-minTE56161212913.223882255318712.538.9
274Steve Jordan1982--1994minTE86255326912.823881269338112.5741.7
275Leonard Thompson1975--1986detWR-HB52116197617.033880169286816.9735.9
276Charles Johnson1994--2002pit-phi-nwe-bufWR69204261612.8237.949173228313.246.6
277Jerry Smith1965--1977wasTE-WR75206284113.7937.960190234412.3439.1
278Rich Caster1970--1981nyj-oti-nor-wasTE-WR58123219717.8637.976207338516.3544.5
279Michael Jenkins2004--2011atl-minWR52144195413.5737.654184216811.7840.1
280Alge Crumpler2001--2010atl-oti-nweTE73196274013.9837.568191216811.3531.9
281Paul Coffman1979--1987gnb-kanTE49145183812.6837.562196248912.740.1
282Courtney Hawkins1992--2000tam-pitWR55170205912.1137.470204257212.6136.7
283Russ Francis1975--1988nwe-sfoTE96277358712.9537.455151214914.2339.1
284Billy Cannon1960--1970oti-rai-kanTE-RB80174298617.1637.3318194511.6730.5
285Jimmie Giles1977--1989oti-tam-det-phiTE50122186115.2537.288232330614.2537.6
286Brian Brennan1984--1992cle-cin-sdgWR61172226713.1837.262184237812.9238.4
287Eric Green1990--1999pit-mia-rav-nyjTE55167201712.0836.757200248812.4443.6
288Troy Brown1993--2007nweWR120392439211.236.681223266811.9632.9
289Gino Cappelletti1960--1970nweFL-SE63132230517.4636.670139203714.6529.1
290Justin McCareins2001--2008oti-nyjWR61145223015.3836.653118180615.3134.1
291Rick Upchurch1975--1983denWR67151243916.1536.453117193916.5736.6
292Frank Wycheck1993--2003was-otiTE86299312910.4636.46724323109.5134.5
293Heath Miller2005--2011pitTE80239286311.9835.839138149810.8638.4
294Floyd Turner1989--1998nor-clt-ravWR46129163812.735.654167238214.2644.1
295Mark Ingram1987--1996nyg-mia-gnb-phiWR65153230115.0435.447128181514.1838.6
296Ken Dilger1995--2004clt-tamTE69192243912.735.375180181910.1124.3
297Rodney Holman1982--1995cin-detTE81210281613.4134.879173220012.7227.8
298Dennis Northcutt2000--2009cle-jax-detWR49132170212.8934.797278339012.1934.9
299Pete Holohan1981--1992sdg-ram-kan-cleTE62190214911.3134.763189199510.5631.7
300Mickey Shuler1978--1991nyj-phiTE68222235210.5934.671248284511.4740.1
301Jerome Barkum1972--1983nyjTE-WR54129185514.3834.472201299014.8841.5
302Az-Zahir Hakim1998--2006ram-det-norWR57145191713.2233.655192255813.3246.5
303Brian Westbrook2002--2010phi-sfoRB8026926589.8833.24920316057.9132.8
304Larry Centers1990--2003crd-was-buf-nweFB8434127828.1633.111950741778.2435.1
305John L. Williams1986--1995sea-pitFB8129026779.23337528722227.7429.6
306Brandon Lloyd2003--2011sfo-was-chi-den-ramWR3281104912.9532.873230373516.2451.2
307Billy Johnson1974--1988oti-atl-wasWR65159211013.2732.571176207711.829.3
308Randy McMichael2002--2011mia-ram-sdgTE53160168610.5431.888257280210.931.8
309Roger Craig1983--1993sfo-rai-minRB12743140059.2931.55319515007.6928.3
310Ricky Watters1992--2001sfo-phi-seaRB9128928519.8731.36321518158.4428.8
311Ronnie Harmon1986--1997buf-sdg-oti-chiRB-WR94283293410.3731.289350361210.3240.6
312Tiki Barber1997--2006nygRB8026724979.3531.28033828178.3335.2
313Eric Metcalf1989--2002cle-atl-sdg-crd-car-was-gnbRB-WR83238256410.7730.9102317318510.0531.2
314Jim R. Mitchell1969--1979atlTE57139175912.6530.966160237514.8436
315Keith Byars1986--1998phi-mia-nwe-nyjFB-TE11939036659.430.87927224398.9730.9
316Freddie Jones1997--2004sdg-crdTE37109113110.3830.679295310110.5139.3
317Tony Nathan1979--1987miaRB8929027059.3330.44515815369.7234.1
318Tony McGee1993--2002cin-dalTE3992117812.830.289230291112.6632.7
319Jackie Harris1990--2001gnb-tam-oti-dalTE63157188111.9829.979251265010.5633.5
320Joe Morrison1960--1972nygRB-WR66147195813.3229.779224274712.2634.8
321Charle Young1973--1985phi-ram-sfo-seaTE76190225311.8629.671241300212.4642.3
322David Hill1976--1987det-ramTE71182209111.4929.576187221111.8229.1
323Billy Joe DuPree1973--1983dalTE101213293313.77294293107911.625.7
324Antwaan Randle El2002--2010pit-wasWR88184247313.4428.166220240210.9236.4
325Kelvin Martin1987--1996dal-sea-phiWR68138183913.332774238302312.740.9
326Thurman Thomas1988--2000buf-miaRB13034634119.8626.27120217198.5124.2
327Marcus Pollard1996--2008clt-det-sea-atlTE81183211311.5526.181185240212.9829.7
328LaDainian Tomlinson2001--2011sdg-nyjRB10434126837.8725.87630822657.3529.8
329Walter Payton1975--1987chiRB11327826459.5123.48623620718.7824.1
330Herschel Walker1986--1997dal-min-phi-nygRB8421119579.2723.310631129629.5227.9
331Kevin Faulk1999--2011nweRB12532828858.823.15415412287.9722.7
332Marcus Allen1982--1997rai-kanRB14534131869.34229129927559.2130.3
333Warrick Dunn1997--2008tam-atlRB9824421418.7721.89230124548.1526.7
334Earnest Byner1984--1997cle-was-ravRB11127123998.8521.610227825849.2925.3
335Tony Galbreath1976--1987nor-min-nygRB7917514708.418.69032626678.1829.6

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NYT Fifth Down: Post-week 13

This week at the New York Times, I blush when discussing Andrew Luck, praise the great Calvin Johnson as he tries to surpass Jerry Rice (but with a caveat), and take a look at some other random stats (including some absurd numbers from Adrian Peterson). Trivia: Brandon Marshall has gained over 1,000 yards on both the Bears and Broncos in seasons in which Jay Cutler was his primary quarterback both seasons. Can you name the only two other wide receivers to gain 1,000 yards with multiple teams but the same passer?

It’s not supposed to be this easy.

Sure, Steve Young and Aaron Rodgers followed Joe Montana and Brett Favre and excelled, but the fact that those examples are so memorable shows that they are the exception to the rule.

You’re not supposed to be able to replace a Hall of Fame quarterback with another star. In Indianapolis, the Colts got a taste of what life is often like for a team in the first year after a franchise quarterback’s exit: Curtis Painter, Dan Orlovsky and Kerry Collins earned every bit of their combined 2-14 record in 2011. But after the Colts bottomed out, Indianapolis’s fortunes changed dramatically. With the first pick in the 2012 draft, the team selected Stanford’s Andrew Luck, and the Colts appear set to be an annual contender for the next decade. Again.

Luck ranks fourth in passing yards this season, and he has shouldered the load for a Colts team that is below average in rushing, stopping the run and stopping the pass. Luck ranks “only” 19th in Adjusted Net Yards per Attempt and 14th in Net Yards per Attempt, unimpressive numbers only outside of the context of a rookie quarterback playing for what was the worst team in the N.F.L. a year ago. Luck passes the eye test and at least one advanced metric (before last night’s game, Luck ranked 6th in ESPN’s Total QBR), but part of what’s impressive about him is that even when he isn’t playing well, he remains capable of carrying his team to victory. Luck struggled for much of the game against Detroit on Sunday but still managed to pull out a most improbable victory.

In the first 56 minutes of the game, Luck was 17 for 39 for 279 yards with three interceptions. His team trailed the Lions, 33-21, with under three minutes remaining. At that point, Advanced NFL Stats calculated Indianapolis’s odds of winning at 2 percent.

But Luck led them on two scoring drives, and the Colts became just the seventh team to win a game despite trailing by 12 or more points with so little time remaining since 2000. Two of the other instances involved Peyton Manning with the Colts. In 2003, Manning led the Colts on a marvelous comeback against the Buccaneers on “Monday Night Football.” Six years later, Indianapolis trailed New England, 34-21, with 2:30 remaining. A Colts touchdown was followed by three Patriots plays that gained 8 yards, setting up Bill Belichick’s infamous 4th-and-2 decision.

It will be a long time before Luck could be considered anywhere near Manning’s class in terms of body of work, but his performance against the Lions is now alongside many of Manning’s memories in the annals of great Colts moments. Luck’s game-winning touchdown to Donnie Avery was just the 13th game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds of a game since 2000.

Statistically, Andrew Luck may not be having the best year, but he has played an enormous part in the Colts’ magical run. At 8-4, the Colts are almost certainly going to make the playoffs; if they do, they will join the 2008 Miami Dolphins and 1982 Patriots on the list of N.F.L. teams to make the playoffs a year after going 2-14 or worse.

Luck will also set a couple of rookie records. With the game-winning drive he led against the Lions, he tied Ben Roethlisberger and Vince Young for the most fourth-quarter game-winning drives (five) by a rookie quarterback. By defeating Detroit and earning his eighth win, he broke a tie with Sam Bradford and now has the most wins among rookie quarterbacks selected first over all since 1950. Luck’s next victory will give him nine wins this season, tying him with Chris Chandler for the franchise record for wins by a rookie quarterback.

Calvin Johnson and the Lions’ Passing Game

Calvin Johnson led the league with 1,681 receiving yards last season and was named a first-team All-Pro by The Associated Press for the first time in his career. His encore performance may be even better.

He has gained a mind-boggling 1,428 receiving yards this season, joining Elroy Hirsch (1,495 yards in 1951) on the short list of N.F.L. players to top the 1,400-yard mark in a team’s first 12 games (in the A.F.L., Charley Hennigan and Lance Alworth each reached that mark once as well).

You can read the full post (and the answer to the trivia question) here.


Game Scripts, Part II: Analyzing team seasons

Yesterday, I rolled out Game Scripts, a way to measure the flow of every game since 1940. The sum of each team’s Game Script in each game can be used to give us an average Game Script score on the season. You might think that this number would be a good proxy for how dominant a team was, and that’s largely true: the teams with the highest game script scores tend to have been the most dominant teams. However, there are some reasons to be cautious with this approach: game scripts are not adjusted for strength of schedule and in any given game, the losing team can end up with a better score than the winning team. That said, here are the teams with the highest Game Scripts since 1940:


The teams with the highest game scripts last year? Green Bay (7.4), New Orleans (5.6) and Houston (5.4), while the Rams (-6.4), Colts (-7.2), and Bucs (-8.7) were at the bottom of the league. But let’s get to the real point of using Game Scripts — to help put passing and rushing ratios in context.

Last year, the Buccaneers had the second highest effective pass/run ratio in the league (defined as total pass attempts divided by rushes plus total pass attempts, but with all kneels and spikes excluded). But that’s misleading, because Tampa Bay had the worst Game Script in the league. Conversely, were Houston and San Francisco really the second and third most run-heavy teams in the NFL last year? The table below lists each team from highest to lowest pass/run ratio:
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Tomlinson pushed many teams to fantasy titles.

Bill Simmons wrote about LaDainian Tomlinson last month and called him the best fantasy football player of all-time. “Greatest ever” debates are always subjective, but at least when it comes to fantasy football, we can get pretty close to declaring a definitive answer. Joe Bryant’s landmark “Value Base Drafting” system explained that the “value of a player is determined not by the number of points he scores, but by how much he outscores his peers at his particular position.” Bryant came up with the concept of calculating a ‘VBD’ number for each player to measure their value.

A player’s VBD is easy to calculate. Each player’s VBD score is the difference between the amount of fantasy points he scored and the fantasy points scored by the worst starter (at his position) in your fantasy league. A player who scores fewer fantasy points than the worst starter has a VBD of 0. There is no standard scoring system for fantasy leagues, so a player’s fantasy points total will depend on the specific league’s scoring rules.1 And, of course, his VBD score will change depending on the number of starters at each position in the league.2

That said, once you pick a scoring system and a set of rules, it’s easy to calculate career VBD scores for every player since 19503. Let’s start with the quarterbacks:

Peyton Manning1998--2010QBclt107191
Brett Favre1992--2010QBatl-gnb-nyj-min1061102
Dan Marino1983--1999QBmia988143
Fran Tarkenton1961--1978QBmin-nyg921154
Steve Young1985--1999QBtam-sfo774245
Joe Montana1979--1994QBsfo-kan727336
Randall Cunningham1985--2001QBphi-min-dal-rav723357
Tom Brady2000--2011QBnwe720368
Drew Brees2001--2011QBsdg-nor688389
John Elway1983--1998QBden6604010
Roger Staubach1969--1979QBdal6304411
Johnny Unitas1956--1973QBclt-sdg6254712
Warren Moon1984--2000QBoti-min-sea-kan5925713
Ken Anderson1971--1986QBcin5397414
Sonny Jurgensen1957--1974QBphi-was5287715
Dan Fouts1973--1987QBsdg5267816
Daunte Culpepper1999--2009QBmin-mia-rai-det5158017
Aaron Rodgers2005--2011QBgnb5078318
Tobin Rote1950--1964QBgnb-det-sdg-den4948819
Roman Gabriel1962--1977QBram-phi40413020
Rich Gannon1988--2004QBmin-was-kan-rai39613521
Kurt Warner1998--2009QBram-nyg-crd39613622
Bobby Layne1950--1962QBchi-nyy-det-pit38514023
Y.A. Tittle1950--1964QBbcl-sfo-nyg38414124
Daryle Lamonica1963--1973QBbuf-rai36815325

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  1. I’ve decided to use a blend of the most common scoring options: 1 point per 20 yards passing, 5 points per passing touchdown, -2 points per interception, 6 points for rushing/receiving touchdowns, 1 point per 10 yards rushing/receiving, 0.5 points per reception. []
  2. Again, I’m using a blend here, but for baseline purposes I’m using QB12, RB24, WR32 and TE12, since the standard 12-team league starts 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2-3 WRs and 1 TE. []
  3. I’ve pro-rated production for those players who were part of seasons when the NFL did not have a 16-game schedule; I also changed the baseline numbers depending on the number of teams in the league, as a baseline of QB12 doesn’t make sense for 1950, when there were only 12 teams. []

The best and worst wide receiver records

On Tuesday, I looked at running back records and argued that Steven Jackson had taken the mantle from Ollie Matson as the most prominent elite running back to have toiled for losing teams for the majority of his career. It’s easy to feel bad for a player like Jackson, relegated to consistent attack as the focal point of opposing defenses for a decade, continuously grinding out yardage while playing for bad teams.

Things are a little different for wide receivers. In fact, it’s often easier for wide receivers to produce better stats while playing for bad teams, since trailing teams are forced to throw later in games. Further, wide receivers don’t face the constant pounding that running backs encounter, making them slightly less sympathetic figures. Still, it’s an interesting question, and one that’s easy enough to answer. Which wide receivers have played for the best and worst teams? Any guesses? The results, after the jump.

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