Tag Archives: streaks

Ram-bunctious defense

Earlier in the week we were talking about the Rams posting two straight shutouts, a rare feat. Now we’re talking about them going three games without allowing a touchdown, another rare feat. Five teams have done it in the 2000s:


Year Team (W-L) Opponents (Score) PA
2014 Rams (6-8)* Raiders (52-0), Redskins (24-0), Rams (L, 12-6) 12
2011 Dolphins (6-10)* Chiefs (31-3), Redskins (20-9), Bills (35-8) 20
2008 Dolphins (11-5) Rams (16-12), Bills (16-3), 49ers (14-9) 24
2000 Titans (13-3) Bengals (35-3), Browns (24-0), Cowboys (31-0) 3
2000 Steelers (9-7)* Jets (20-3), Bengals (15-0), Browns (22-0) 3

*missed playoffs

The thing about the Steelers’ streak is that it kept going. They extended it to five games before giving up a touchdown to the Eagles. (Where have you gone, Jeff Thomason? He was the guy who scored it.)

In all, the Steelers allowed six field goals during this stretch. And they didn’t make the playoffs! Their 9-7 record left them in the First Alternate position. In fact, three of the above teams failed to earn a postseason berth (and the two that did were one-and-done). Go figure.

The Rams have a chance to match the Steelers’ run, but it won’t be easy. They have the Giants (home) and Seahawks (away) left on their schedule, and it doesn’t look like Seattle will be in a position to mail-in the last game, not with the division title — and possibly home-field advantage in the NFC — at stake.

Still, it’s been an impressive display of defense, even if the Rams haven’t exactly faced a Murderer’s Row of quarterbacks (Derek Carr, Colt McCoy, Drew Stanton). That’s usually how it is with these streaks — hot defenses squashing less-than-quality competition (and their club being fortunate enough not to give up any return TDs, of course).

One final note: Two of these teams (2014 Rams, 2000 Titans) had Gregg Williams as their defensive coordinator. Gotta be more than just a coincidence, don’t you think?

Source: pro-football-reference.com

"That's Gregg with TWO G's."

“That’s Gregg with TWO G’s.”

51 . . . and done

For whatever reason(s), there’s a Bermuda Triangle aspect to certain NFL records. They’re just hard to break — harder than you’d think they’d be. Norm Van Brocklin’s record of 554 passing yards in a game, for instance, still stands 63 years later, even though the deck is increasingly stacked in favor of quarterbacks. And Johnny Unitas’ record of throwing a touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games wasn’t seriously threatened for more than half a century.

The latter record, now in the possession of the Saints’ Drew Brees (54), continues to prove elusive. The Patriots’ Tom Brady made it to 52 last season, only to be stopped by the Bengals on a rainy day in Cincinnati. And Sunday, the Broncos’ Peyton Manning had a 51-game run end against the Bills on a perfectly lovely day in Denver.

Also, lest we forget, the Cowboys’ Tony Romo had a 38-gamer halted by the Eagles two weeks ago. Anyway, those streaks — Brady’s, Manning’s and Romo’s — are three of the five longest in the league’s 95 years. And they all came up short.

Back in September, I wrote about the history of the record (which was once owned by Cecil Isbell, the long-ago Packer) and even dug up some vintage video. If you want to look the original post again — or even for the first time — I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s the link.

The Packers' Cecil Isbell throws a touchdown pass in the 1939 title game vs. the Giants.

The Packers’ Cecil Isbell throws a touchdown pass in the 1939 title game vs. the Giants.

Source: pro-football-reference.com


There are two kinds of streaks in sports: the real kind, which go on without interruption, and the regular-season kind, which are suspended for the playoffs and resume — the player hopes — the next year. In Sunday’s 43-21 loss to the Patriots, the Broncos’ Peyton Manning threw two touchdown passes for the 14th straight regular-season game to set an NFL record.

“Going into the game,” The Associated Press reported, “Manning had two 13-game streaks with at least two touchdown passes, and Tom Brady of the Patriots and Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers each had one.”

Of course, if postseason games were included, then that paragraph would have read differently. Brady (2010-11) and Rodgers (the same two seasons) have both had 14-game streaks counting the playoffs – and Manning’s current run of 14 games would only be eight games (since he threw for just one TD in the Super Bowl against the Broncos).

I’m not trying to bust anybody’s chops here. I totally get why the NFL separates the regular season from the postseason for record-keeping purposes. In the playoffs, after all, you’re going up against the best teams every week. They’re not Typical Games.

But I do wish the league paid as much attention to Real Streaks as it does Regular-Season Streaks. I mean, what’s the harm? All it would cost is a few extra pages in the record book. And the benefit is obvious: You’d be acknowledging some performances that might otherwise be overlooked. Better still, you’d be letting the fans decide for themselves whether one streak is better than another.

My reason for bringing this up is that Johnny Unitas threw two touchdown passes or more in 13 consecutive games in 1959 — the Colts’ 12 regular-season games, plus the title game against the Giants. That’s as long as any Real Streak Manning has had. (Peyton had a 13-gamer to start 2004, when he tossed 49 TD passes.)

You know who else had a 13-gamer? Dandy Don Meredith with the Cowboys in 1965 (the last nine games) and ’66 (the first four). I’m still not sure why Meredith was left out of AP’s story. His was strictly a regular-season streak, unlike Johnny U.’s.

Here are the game-by-game breakdowns for Unitas’ and Meredith’s streaks. Given the times — and the less-passer-friendly rules — who’s to say their runs weren’t greater those of Manning, Brady and Rodgers?


Opponent TD
Lions 2
Bears 3
Lions 3
Bears 2
Packers 3
Browns 4
Redskins 2
Packers 3
49ers 2
Rams 2
49ers 3
Rams 3
Giants* 2
Total 34

*championship game


Opponent TD
Browns 2
Steelers 2
49ers 2
Steelers 2
Browns 2
Redskins 2
Eagles 2
Cardinals 3
Giants 3
Giants 5
Vikings 2
Falcons 2
Eagles 5
Total 34

Note that each threw for exactly 34 scores during the streak. Unitas’ 32 TD passes in the regular season broke the NFL record of 28 set by the Bears’ Sid Luckman in 1943. Johnny U.’s Colts, by the way, won the title that year, and Meredith quarterbacked the Cowboys to the championship game in ’66.

There’s little chance the NFL and its record-keepers will ever come around on this issue, but that won’t stop me from bugging them about it from time to time. That said, something tells me Unitas, were he alive today, probably wouldn’t care much about such a record, being an old schooler and all. In fact, if you ever brought the matter up to him, he’d probably give you a look like this:

Johnny U football card

Source: pro-football-reference.com

Paul Hornung’s forgotten streak

On this day in 1961, Paul Hornung did something that hasn’t been done since — and probably won’t be done again. The Hall of Fame running back, who doubled as a kicker, scored the Packers’ first 31 points in a 45-7 beatdown of the Colts. The highlights of his epic performance:

That was from a ’70s game show, by the way, hosted by Dick Enberg called “Sports Challenge.” The episode you were watching pitted three Packers (Hornung, offensive guard Jerry Kramer and Hall of Fame defensive end Willie Davis) against a team of Dallas Cowboys (quarterbacks Don Meredith and Eddie LeBaron and receiver Frank Clarke). All of them were retired by then (1972, I’m guessing).

Many of the questions were easy — nobody wanted to make the contestants look bad — but it was still funny to see how little some of them knew about the history of their own sports, never mind other sports. (Even recent history . . . like the previous season.)

But getting back to Hornung, he was one of the last of a breed: an offensive star who also kicked. There were a plenty of them in pro football’s first few decades, when rosters were smaller and players had to multitask. By the late ’50s, though, you started to see more and more kicking specialists, guys who did nothing else (except maybe punt, like the 49ers’ Tommy Davis). Paul managed to hold out as a two-way threat through the 1964 season, at which point coach Vince Lombardi replaced him with Don Chandler.

As you saw in the clip, Hornung could do it all — run, catch, kick and, because he’d been a quarterback at Notre Dame, even throw the occasional option pass. (That was the “run-pass option” Enberg referred to on the last touchdown, when Paul decided to run.) As a result, he scored tons of points for those great Packers teams — a record 176 in 12 games in 1960 (since topped only by LaDainian Tomlinson’s 186 in 16 games for the Chargers in 2006), 146 the next season (also in 12 games) and 31 straight that afternoon against the Colts (whose defense, let’s not forget, featured Hall of Fame linemen Gino Marchetti and Art Donovan).

Hornung’s consecutive-points streak was actually 32, because he’d booted the PAT after Green Bay’s final score the previous week. Think about it: What would it take for somebody to do that today? Answer: Kick 11 field goals — with no intervening touchdowns or safeties. It’s possible, certainly, but nobody has come close to pulling it off. In 2007, for instance, the Bengals’ Shayne Graham booted seven field goals to score all of his team’s points in a 21-7 win over the Ravens. But that was pretty much the extent of his streak (22, counting a point-after the game before).

Indeed, I’ve come across just five examples since World War II of players scoring 20 or more points in a game and having it be all the points their club scored. The list:


Date Player, Team Opponent Pts How he scored
11-19-50 RB Doak Walker, Lions Packers 24 3 TD catches, 3 PAT, 1 FG
11-11-07 K Shayne Graham, Bengals Ravens 21 7 field goals
11-18-96 K Chris Boniol, Cowboys Packers 21 7 field goals
12-8-62 FB Cookie Gilchrist, Bills (AFL) N.Y. Titans 20 2 TD runs, 2 PAT, 2 FG
12-1-46 FB Ted Fritsch, Packers Redskins 20 3 TD runs, 2 PAT

*Since World War II.

(People forget what a talent Gilchrist was. Besides leading the league in rushing that season with 1,096 yards, he kicked eight field goals and 14 extra points.)

Still, the record for most consecutive points doesn’t belong to Hornung. No, it’s the property of another Hall of Famer, Chicago Cardinals back Ernie Nevers, who scored 59 straight over five days (Sunday/Thanksgiving Day) in 1929 — 19 vs. the Dayton Triangles and 40 vs. the Bears. (The latter, incidentally, remains the mark for points in a game.

Several other consecutive-points streaks in the ’20s also were longer than Hornung’s. Nevers had another lengthy streak — 47 points — in 1926, Hall of Famer Paddy Driscoll of the Cardinals Nevers' 40-point game storyscored at least 44 straight (there’s some uncertainty) in ’23 and Hank Gillo of the Racine (Wis.) Legion had a 43-point run in ’24.

Then there’s the streak put together by Ralph Kercheval of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1934 and ’35. That one might be the most remarkable of all. Over a span of eight games in those two seasons, Kercheval, a running back-kicker, scored every one of the Dodgers’ points — all, uh, 34. (Brooklyn didn’t exactly have a dynamic offense.) He extended his run to 40 the next week with two field goals, but then teammate Red Franklin ended it with a rushing touchdown. Hard as it is to believe — even for those low-scoring times — Kercheval’s streak (three touchdowns, six field goals, 4 PATs) lasted almost a year. It began Oct. 28, 1934 and ended Oct. 6, 1935.

It’s easy to cast aspersions on the early NFL. It was, after all, a much different game. But there’s one thing players did back then that today’s heroes will never match: score large numbers of points consecutively.

Hey, it’s something. One last screengrab:

Walker's 24-point day, 1950














Source: pro-football-reference.com