Wide receivers putting up big numbers, too
Peyton Manning’s 403-yard performance Sunday at Kansas City officially made this season the biggest one ever for quarterbacks.
It was the 19th 400-yard game by a QB in the NFL this season, the most ever for a full season, breaking the record of 18 set in 2011 – and there’s still a month to go.
Of course, somebody’s hauling in all those throws from the league’s prolific passers. From Calvin Johnson to Demaryius Thomas, wideouts are going wild in 2013.
In Manning’s case Sunday, it was Eric Decker, who hauled in a franchise-record four TD passes in Denver’s 35-28 win at Kansas City that gave the Broncos control of the AFC playoff race.
These types of performances are coming more and more often.
Decker’s eight catches for a career-high 174 yards made him just the third receiver in 20 years to catch four TD passes and top 170 yards. The others are Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens.
”That’s some pretty good company,” Decker said.
And he had some more good company Sunday when Browns rookie Josh Gordon set a team record with a 261-yard day and Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery went for 249 yards.
Some memorable moments by the league’s top targets this season:
DECKER DOMINATES: Decker had just three TD catches this season and none since Oct. 20. Then, he did something Rod Smith, Shannon Sharpe and Ed McCaffrey never did by catching four TD passes.
While all of Manning’s other targets were catching TD passes this season, Decker kept joking that he’d wish they’d save some for him. They all came his way on one glorious afternoon.
”The mind-set we all have is you have to be ready because you never know when that game might come,” Decker said.
CATCH OF THE WEEK: Jeffery had one of the most impressive performances of the season Sunday – 12 catches for 249 yards and two TDs in Chicago’s 23-20 overtime loss at Minnesota – and one of the coolest catches of the year.
On third-and-14 in the third quarter, Jeffrey lined up in the slot to the left and made a gorgeous catch over Vikings cornerback Chris Cook just shy of the end zone. He maintained possession while dragging both feet into the end zone for the score while squeezing the ball with great concentration before tumbling out of bounds.
Cook bumped the official who signaled touchdown, drawing an unsportsmanlike flag and an ejection.
GREAT GORDON: Gordon had 10 catches for a team record 261 yards, including a 95-yard TD that put the Browns up on the Jaguars 28-25 only to see Jacksonville rally for a 32-28 win.
Gordon’s 10 catches for a team record 261 yards made him the first player in NFL history with back-to-back 200-yard games. He had 236 in a loss the week before to Pittsburgh.
His 498 yards in two games and 623 in three are both league marks.
MEGATRON’S MEGADAY: On Oct. 27 Calvin Johnson got the best of Dez Bryant, gaining 329 yards receiving in the Lions’ 31-30 win over the Cowboys on Matthew Stafford’s 1-yard plunge over a pile of linemen with 12 seconds left.
Johnson finished seven yards shy of Flipper Anderson’s NFL record 336-yard performance he had for the Los Angeles Rams against the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 26, 1989, in a game that went into overtime. Anderson had 296 yards in regulation that day.
”It was crazy,” Johnson said of the 1-on-1 coverage he faced all afternoon. ”We had a lot of one-on-one coverage today, and we were able to take advantage and hit some deep balls. Matt made some great throws to me.”
MARVELOUS MARVIN: On the same day Johnson nearly broke the NFL record for yards receiving, Marvin Jones set a Bengals record with his four touchdown catches during a 49-9 win over the Jets.
”It was unbelievable,” All-Pro receiver A.J. Green marveled. ”I don’t think I have scored four touchdowns since high school. That guy is awesome.”
TERRIFIC THOMAS: Demaryius Thomas caught a trio of TDs from Manning in Denver’s 28-20 win over San Diego last month when Jack Del Rio took over after John Fox needed open-heart surgery.
Thomas’ favorite TD came on a quick screen in which he was still accelerating as he scored from 34 yards out, explaining, ”Smoke screens are my favorite thing to do. After that catch, I feel, is my thing.”
It’s easy to see why Thomas says he’s at his best with the ball in his hands – he leads NFL receivers with 594 yards after the catch.
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