Defensive Streak Search: (Not) Surrendering 400 Yards Passing

After each week of the NFL season one column I always read is Don Banks’ “Snap Judgments” over at SI. He breaks things down into nice bullet points that cover full games or simply interesting stats. His recent column covering the AFC and NFC Championship games dropped this nugget:

“In his 14-season stay in New England, Bill Belichick’s Patriots have never given up more yards (507) yards in a game, and Manning’s 400 yards passing was the first time Belichick’s New England defense has surrendered that many.”

At first I thought that this was pretty phenomenal. How can a team go 14 seasons (249 games if you count the postseason) without ever surrendering 400 or more passing yards in a single game? I took a quick look at the list here and found that 141 games have been played with individual QBs passing for 400 or more yards since the start of the 2000 season (Belichick’s first as head coach in NE). This means that each team should have averaged around four games against a single 400-yard passer.

Noting that, it doesn’t seem as far-fetched that New England could just have pushed their 400-yard surrenders onto the 31 other teams in the league. However, a closer look at the list reveals that the Patriots actually gave up 400 yards to Ben Roethlisberger and 421 yards to Matt Ryan earlier in the 2013 season. They also gave up 400 yards to Vince Young and 416 yards to Chad Henne in 2011, as well as 401 yards to Kurt Warner in 2001. Along with Manning, that’s six games in 14 years, or “worse” than average.

Then I realized it was my “mistake” and not Banks’. In calculating TEAM passing yards allowed/gained, yardage lost from sacks counts against the total. That may be a no-brainer, but sometimes I have no brain.

Putting aside the argument about whether or not sacks should count as negative passing yards, and why they don’t count against the individual, but do against the team (something to do with O-line failure?), the “pure” passing stat still interested me.

It made me wonder which team has the longest current stretch without giving up 400 yards passing, not counting sacks. Continue reading

Animal Bowl III

Last year I wrote a lengthy post about the possibility of the 2012 NFL season culminating in a “Bird Bowl” between the Baltimore Ravens and the Atlanta Falcons. Alas, the Har-Bowl prevailed and the Ravens remained the only “bird” team to win the Super Bowl and became the first bird team to win it twice.

2013 left us without an opportunity for a Bird Bowl as the defending champion Ravens failed to make the playoffs. However, the Seahawks and Eagles made it to the postseason and, of course, the Seahawks will play in the Super Bowl on Sunday. They are the eighth bird team to make the Super Bowl after the Eagles (1980, 2004), Falcons (1998), Ravens (2000, 2012), Cardinals (2008) and of course the Matt Hasselbeck-led Seahawks team (2005).

Notably, the Seahawks will be facing the Denver Broncos, another animal team. This is the third ever “Animal Bowl.” The first was in 1998 (Broncos over Falcons) and the second was in 2006 (Colts over Bears). I guess it’s just a thing for Elway and Manning.

While I obviously recommend you read the original Bird Bowl post (it has aged well after a year, if I do say so myself), I’ll copy this little bit from the end of that entry for your reading pleasure:

–Notable Super Bowl matchups between teams with similar/related names:

  • Colts over Cowboys (1970) – the Chisholm Trail Bowl
  • Raiders over Vikings (1976) – the Marauder Bowl
  • Cowboys over Broncos (1987) – the Rodeo Bowl
  • Redskins over Bills (1991) – the Wild West Show Bowl
  • Cowboys over Bills (1992 & 1993) – the Double Redundant Bowl
  • Ravens over Giants (2000) – the Game of Thrones Bowl
  • Buccaneers over Raiders (2002) – Brad Johnson’s finest hour
  • Patriots over Eagles (2004) – the Murrica Bowl
  • Packers over Steelers (2010) – the Blue Collar Bowl

[and, particularly apropos given the recent attention to Washington’s NFL team]

–While the Washington Redskins and the Kansas City Chiefs both made the playoffs in 1971, 1990, 1991 and 1992, the closest we’ve come to an “Insensitivity Bowl” was in 1991 when the Redskins won the Super Bowl and the Chiefs lost in the divisional round.

Peyton Manning’s 2013 Records Chase (after 15 games)

Peyton Manning did it. He broke the single season record for TD passes (even if one wasn’t a complete pass), and he did it in game 15 (just like in 2004). He’s still on pace to break the single-season records for passing yards and he might just add 3-4 more TDs to his total. Let’s take a look at Peyton Manning’s 2013 stats compared to those of other QBs after 15 games in their own record-setting seasons. I’ll probably post a season post-mortem update to this after next week’s game. As always with this football statistics stuff, I never claim expertise, I just do it for fun. Along with whatever’s new,  there’s still some stuff here from last week’s look. Continue reading

Peyton Manning’s 2013 Records Chase (after 14 games)

Peyton Manning is on pace to break the single-season records for touchdown passes and passing yards this year (2013). Let’s take a look at Peyton Manning’s 2013 stats compared to those of other QBs after 14 games in their own record-setting seasons. I’ll probably post updates to this after each of the next 2 games as Manning inches closer to these achievements. As always with this football statistics stuff, I never claim expertise, I just do it for fun. I’m late on this week’s update, so there isn’t much analysis and there’s still some stuff from last week’s look.

Continue reading

Fun with NFL Standings

I’m on kind of an NFL kick as the regular season winds down and we get closer to the playoffs. A lot of this stuff may interest only me, but these are little questions I think about when I take a look at the standings and playoff scenarios and all that. I wanted to find out about good divisions, playoff teams with bad records, non-playoff teams with great records, and stuff like that. This is pretty brief, though I’ll probably find more to add to it down the line.

Here’s the thought that prompted me to jump down this rabbit hole:

What is the best record for two teams in the same division?

The Denver Broncos and the Kansas City Chiefs are both 11-3. They both have the potential to go 13-3. They’re both in the same division. Has any division ever had two teams go 13-3 in the same year? Thanks (as always) to Pro-Football-Reference, I found out. Continue reading

Washington, NC: Homeland Visits Raleigh for its Third Season Premiere


The third season of Showtime’s award-winning series Homeland premiered on September 29. I sat down to watch the episode with Beth and about 15 minutes in I was struck by a strange sense of familiarity. No, it wasn’t the infamous Claire Danes “Cry Face” or the comforting bushiness of Saul “The Bear” Berenson’s beard. Instead, it was the scenery. For a show set in Washington, DC, one would expect the landmarks to be at least somewhat familiar. However, the monuments and locations I was seeing were not DC related. Homeland had decided to come to Raleigh.

It may not be common knowledge, but Homeland films on location in and around Charlotte, NC, which is a suitable (and less busy) stand-in for Washington, DC and the surrounding area. For the premiere, it appears the crew opted to let North Carolina’s capital stand in for the nation’s.

Since I work in downtown Raleigh, I decided to investigate the locations used by the series (I think they probably shot this episode while I was away for the summer). Below are my attempts to match up some shots from the show with the real-life sites. Obviously, this is probably way more exciting for me than it is for any of you, especially if you have never been to Raleigh, or if you have had another TV series or movie filmed in your town. This was fun, though, so back off! There are no major SPOILERS for the episode, but there are some screen shots and vague descriptions from the episode below. Continue reading


Beth and I finally saw Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln last night, something we’ve been planning to do at least twice a week since the film opened three months ago. Anchored by a strong lead performance and solid supporting work from a sea of recognizable character actors, Lincoln is Spielberg’s best film in a decade.

I know a few people who can’t stand Spielberg films because of their overt sentimentality. The director artificially elevates scenes, characters, events and moments to the point of head-shaking unreality through his use of music, lighting and the camera. He also highlights stilted dialog in moments of grand pomposity designed to tell a viewer to pay attention because This Is Important. But by golly if it doesn’t work much of the time. Spielberg is a master manipulator and while I often recognize these heightened moments–thankfully Spielberg gets one of the “worst” out of the way in the first five minutes of Lincoln–I find myself looking past or even being swept along with some of them. I have no trouble enjoying a movie with a beating heart, even if that heart is sometimes pumping sugar syrup.

As I watched Lincoln, one thing that stuck out to me was the set decoration. The world of the film is incredibly detailed, but something felt just a bit off to me. Continue reading

The Bird Bowl

I know it’s premature to write about the Super Bowl when the Conference Championships have yet to be played, but I couldn’t resist posting about this topic, particularly since sharing it with you almost justifies the time I wasted looking all of this stuff up. I don’t promise 100% accuracy, but I should be pretty close on my numbers and dates. Against scholarly standards, I relied almost entirely on Wikipedia for research.

With the NFL Conference Championship games set (49ers/Falcons, Ravens/Patriots), my friend Ben sent me a text message reminding me that possible matchups for the Super Bowl now include the Harbaugh Bowl (or Har-Bowl as I like to call it, featuring 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh vs. his brother John, coach of the Ravens) and the Bird Bowl (it’s obvious, nothing clever there). Sorry Patriots, but here’s hoping it’s not your year. That got me thinking: How unbearable is the media coverage going to get if the Har-Bowl happens? More importantly, it got me thinking: there are a few NFL teams with bird mascots, have we ever had a Bird Bowl before?

The bulk of my research is concerned only with the Super Bowl era, after all, it wasn’t a Bird Bowl if it wasn’t even called the Super Bowl. The actual name “Super Bowl” was apparently mentioned by Lamar Hunt during AFL-NFL merger meetings in 1966. It was picked up by the media and became the official name of the title game for the third AFL-NFL Championship Game. The title was retroactively applied to the first two AFL-NFL Championship Games.

I started my quest for Bird Bowl info by considering the number of bird teams in the NFL during the Super Bowl era. Continue reading

President’s Day

Apostrophe placement is something that I am often concerned with. Whether it is worrying about my own use of the punctuation mark, criticizing others for their misuse, or simply thinking about its in contractions and possessives, the apostrophe is something that constantly comes up. The reason it comes up today is because of the holiday today. I’ve chosen to spell it as a singular possessive, as if the day belongs to one president because, as far as my limited research tells me, it does belong to just one man: George Washington.Image

Statue of George Washington as a Roman General by Antonio Canova. The original sat at the center of North Carolina’s State House in Raleigh from 1820 until it was destroyed when the State House burned to the ground in 1831. There is now a copy from 1970 in the current Capitol Building.

You see, Washington’s birthday is February 22. In 1880, that date was celebrated as a holiday for federal employees in Washington, DC, and then in 1885 it was extended to all federal employees. Then, in the 1960s, congress decided to make some federal holidays fall on Mondays just to give people consecutive days off so they could watch all three Lord of the Rings: Extended Edition movies in one weekend while still leaving time for important Saturday and Sunday broadcasts like NCAA and NFL football and Mad Men. The Federal Government proclaimed the third Monday in February the date for recognition of Washington’s birthday. Of course, mathematically, the third Monday will never fall on Washington’s actual birthday.

Anyway, some state governments began to recognize the holiday as “Presidents Day,” (you choose where to put the apostrophe), because of the holiday’s proximity to Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (February 12) as well as Washington’s. I don’t remember every celebrating anything other than Presidents’ Day on the holiday, though I remember seeing both Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays on the calendar in elementary school. Lincoln’s birthday is not a federal holiday. In fact, MLKJ is the only other person to be honored with a Federal holiday in the US.

So, I guess that we’re technically celebrating Washington’s birthday on the 3rd Monday in February, but depending on where you are, it might also be called President’s Day, which you can interpret as a celebration of one president, two presidents, or, if you really want to be all-inclusive, EVERY president. Still, it would seem that celebrating just Washington is the most historically correct. That said, I’m not opposed to slapping myself on the forehead every April 23rd in honor of James Buchanan.

(info for this post, and more in-depth exploration of the holiday can be found in this article by CL Arbelbide)