The records kept getting set almost as fast as the Miami Dolphins scored last week against the Denver Broncos.
The first team ever with 10 touchdowns from scrimmage, the first to gain at least 350 yards through the air and on the ground, a record-tying two players with four touchdowns.
The Dolphins fell short of a few other notable marks in the 70-20 victory thanks in part to mercy by the coaching staff and a statistical quirk.
With a chance to become the first team since 1966 to top the 70-point mark in a game, coach Mike McDaniel had Mike White take a knee on fourth down from the Denver 27 with 33 seconds left.
That’s in stark contrast to the decision Washington coach Otto Graham made the last time a team scored 70 points in a game.
Graham sent out kicker Charlie Gogolak for a 29-yard field goal in the closing seconds of a 72-41 win over the Giants on Nov. 27, 1966. Had McDaniel done the same, the Dolphins could have set the mark for points in a regular-season game.
The overall record is 73 by Chicago in the NFL title game win over Washington in 1940. The only other team to score 70 was the Rams in 1950 against Baltimore.
The kneel down also cost Miami a chance to have the most yards per play in a game in the last 50 years. The Dolphins finished at 10.23 after taking a 1-yard loss, slightly behind the 10.3 for Kansas City in a 38-31 loss to the Jets on Dec. 3, 2017.
The Dolphins finished with 350 yards rushing and 376 yards passing for 726 in the game. Officially, the only team to gain more was the Rams with 735 against the New York Yanks in 1951.
But as the Pro Football Journal discovered, that total doesn’t include a 13-yard sack taken by Norm Van Brocklin that under current scoring rules would have left the Rams with 722 total yards.
But because sack yards weren’t deducted from total yards until 1952, the NFL and its official stats keeper, The Elias Sports Bureau, consider the 735 to be the record.
That doesn’t diminish what the Dolphins accomplished on a day when Tua Tagovailoa had more TD passes (four) than incompletions (three), Tyreek Hill had his 33rd TD of at least 40 yards and Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane became the second set of teammates each to score four TDs in the same game. Priest Holmes and Derrick Blaylock did it for Kansas City on Oct. 24, 2004, against Atlanta.
THE NEED FOR SPEED
Any talk about what fuels the Dolphins’ offensive success has to include speed as a prominent factor.
Miami features several of the fastest players in the NFL, and that shows up in the NFL’s NextGen player tracking stats.
The Dolphins feature the five fastest speeds for ball carriers this season, led by Achane’s 21.93 mph on his 67-yard touchdown run against the Dolphins. That’s followed by Hill’s 21.66 mph on a 47-yard TD catch in Week 1, Mostert’s 21.62 mph on a 43-yard TD run in Week 2, Hill’s 21.52 mph on a 35-yard TD catch in Week 1 and Achane’s 21.5 mph on a 3-yard TD run on Sunday.
The fastest non-Dolphins player this season was Green Bay’s Aaron Jones, who was recorded at 21.48 mph on a 35-yard TD catch in Week 1 against Chicago.
The Vikings and Giants tried to bring pressure at a record-setting pace without much success.
New York blitzed on 84.6% of dropbacks by San Francisco last week and Minnesota did it 82% of the time against the Chargers, according to NFL NextGen stats from TruMedia. Those were the two highest rated in data that goes back to 2016.
Justin Herbert and Brock Purdy were able to pick apart the blitz, while taking only one and two sacks, respectively. Herbert posted a 133.9 passer rating when blitzed, with Purdy recording a 111.3.
JUST FOR KICKS
Indianapolis’ Matt Gay highlighted a record-setting week for kickers across the NFL.
Gay became the first kicker to make four field goals from at least 50 yards in the same game, including the winning 53-yarder in overtime to beat the Ravens.
There were 11 more field goals made last week from at least 50 yards, breaking the record for the most in a week set in Week 15 last season, when there were 14.
Matt Prater was good from even longer, with a 62-yarder in Arizona’s win over Dallas for his third career field goal of at least 60 yards. He is tied with Greg Zuerlein for the second-most ever, one shy of Brett Maher’s record.
Houston got its first win of the season in a large part because of the kicking game. The Texans scored on a blocked field-goal return and kickoff return in the win over the Jaguars, becoming the first team in 13 years to do that in the same game. New England did it against Miami on Oct. 3, 2010.
Kirk Cousins is off to a productive start for Minnesota with very little to show for it.
Cousins is the fifth player in NFL history to throw for at least 325 yards and two TDs in each of the first three games of the season.
Tom Brady (2011), Ryan Fitzpatrick (2018), Patrick Mahomes (2019) and Derek Carr (2021) were victorious in 10 of their 12 games when they did it. Cousins and the Vikings are 0-3.
Cousins joined Warren Moon (1985), Matt Schaub (2010) and Philip Rivers (2015) as the only QBs since the merger to throw for at least 325 yards and two TDs in three straight games, while losing all of them.
A year after going an NFL-record 11-0 in games decided by eight points or fewer, Minnesota has lost in that fashion in all three weeks so far this year.
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