By Jonathan Comey
Cold, Hard Football Facts Bronco Rider (@colonelcomey)
1. It’s time to tip the cap to Denver’s offense as something we’ve just never seen.
Teams that turn the ball over four times don’t usually win games. And they definitely don’t score 45 points. And they certainly don’t win by 24 points.
But that’s what the Broncos did vs. Washington Sunday, in a game that was more like a major conference powerhouse whipping a spunky bottom-feeder (think Baylor vs. Kansas) than an NFL contest between 2012 playoff teams.
Since 1996, only two teams have committed four turnovers, scored 45+ points and won by 20+ points – the 2011 Eagles, vs. the Jets, and the 2001 Rams vs. the Panthers.
Late in the game, with the Broncos up 31-21 and ready to salt it away, Peyton Manning was chucking into coverage. The Redskins picked him off twice! Hope! Desire! Heart! Upset! Momentum!
Nope. Two turnovers the other way, an injury to RGIII, and a 45-21 final. Take that, Redskins.
The Broncos are on pace for an easy NFL record of 686 points, and in fact “only” need to average 31 a game the rest of the way to break the record of 589 set by New England. Considering that no one has held them under 33 in a game ALL YEAR, it’ll take an injury to No. 18 to derail this train.
Oh, and No. 18 is on pace for 58 touchdown passes. Not bad for an oldtimer with a fused neck.
2. It was tough to see Bengals 49, Jets 9 coming.
Wins by 40+ in the NFL are rare. So rare, in fact, that it hadn’t happened once this year. And it hadn’t happened for the Bengals since 1989, a 61-7 loss to Houston late in the season when Cincy was actually competing for a playoff spot.
And considering how well the Jets played in beating New England, and the Bengals’ inability to beat anyone this year decisively, a blowout was the last thing anyone expected.
The Bengals weren’t that much better than the Jets on this day – they only had five more first downs than New York – but they were plenty good. They shut down the Jets’ run game (20-50 for NYJ tailbacks) and Andy Dalton was just about perfect for the second straight week.
Against two good defenses (Jets and Lions), Dalton turned in passer ratings of 135.9 and 125.6. With the Steelers and Browns losing and the Ravens idle, the AFC North is the Bengals’ to lose.
3. Terrelle Pryor's big play was his only one ... and it was enough.
Can the first play of the game be so good that anything else to follow can’t take the shine off it? When it’s the longest run for a touchdown by a QB in NFL history – and it leads to a team win – the answer has to be yes.
But sweet lord did Pryor struggle the rest of the way after his 93-yard run early. He ran eight more times for 13 yards, finished with a 25.7 rating thanks to a 4.6 YPA with two interceptions a and no TDs. Added to his 45.7 rating against the Chiefs before the bye, and Pryor’s early promise – as a thrower – is fading.
Overall, the 93-yard run represented exactly a third of the Raiders’ offensive production for the game.
It was enough, though, thanks to an Oakland defense that held Pittsburgh to 4.0 yards a play and got some help from Shaun Suisham’s two missed field goals.
4. Rumors of the Atlanta Falcons’ resurrection were highly exaggerated.
Generally, throwing the ball 61 times and rushing for 27 yards isn’t going to lead to good things. And so it was for Atlanta Sunday in Arizona.
Matt Ryan is paid lavishly to play quarterback in the NFL, but asking him to attack the strength of the Arizona Cardinals – on the road – 61 times was a pretty unfair request, and four interceptions wasn’t a surprising result.
Throwing it 60 times is pretty rare – only 44 times ever. And winning the game is even rarer – only six QBs have done it, most recently Brian Griese in 2008 for the Bucs.
Atlanta can’t run the football (3.6 YPC coming in), and the return of a still-hurt Steven Jackson wasn’t likely to change that. At 2-5, with the star wideouts out and Carolina taking their place with strength as the No. 2 in the NFC South, it’s over in the ATL.
5. And finally …
Arizona is a mess offensively, but at 4-4 the Cards are alive in the NFC. The Cardinals have the bye next week, then it’s host Houston and at Jacksonville. They also have highly winnable games at Philly and Tennessee, plus home games vs. the Rams and Colts. Can they do it? Nah. But it’ll be cute to watch those little guys try. …
RGIII (and the team nickname) are the targets for Redskins haters, but the fact is that this team has allowed at least 27 points in six of their seven games – and holding the Raiders to 14 is no feat. There’s too much talent on that side of the ball for that, and the well-traveled Jim Haslett should probably be renting, not house hunting. …
Calvin Johnson is now on pace for 1,759 yards; if he gets there, his last three seasons will represent three of the top nine seasons ever. And if Matthew Stafford stays on his current pace, his last three seasons would also all be in the top 10 QB yardage seasons ever. So is it time to start wondering if this is the best combo ever? …
The Patriots got booed by their fans down 17-3 at the half; those New England fans sure do have short memories. Asked for comment after the game, Tom Brady’s middle finger declined comment. …
Fantasy football geeks are definitely not building shrines to Hakeem Nicks of the Giants, who has now gone 11 straight games without a receiving touchdown. Meanwhile, someone named “M. Jones” had four of them for the Bengals Sunday. …
Finally, if baseball can’t win the ratings war with Game 4 of the World Series up against Packers-Vikings, it’s time to fold up the shop.