'Tis the season


A new "For Pete's Sake" blog appears each Thursday on Profootballhof.com.

In the spirit of the holidays, this week’s blog is a play on the “12 Days of Christmas” but with a football twist. So here are 12 memorable moments from the 2011 NFL Season.

12 – Veteran Ed Reed had a pair of picks in the Baltimore Ravens’ Week 1 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was the 12th time of his career that he had at least two interceptions in the same game.

11 – Devin Hester ran back a 69-yard punt return for a TD in the Bears’ Week 4 win over the Carolina Panthers. It was his 11th punt return taken back for a score which allowed him to gain sole possession of the record for punt return touchdowns in a career that he had shared with Eric Metcalf.

10 – The start of the 2011 season was wild and unpredictable. One such example was when the 49ers rallied to beat the Lions in Week 6. It marked 19th time, and the most ever through the first six weeks of a season, that a team rallied from a 10-point deficit to win the game.

9 – Drew Brees became the first player to throw for 3,000 yards through the first nine games of a season. He broke his own mark of 2,985 yards through 9 games in 2008 when he became the second player in history to have 5,000 yards passing in a season.

8 – As in 108 yards. Kickoff Weekend is like a holiday for football fans. And, there was no better way to bring in the season with a bang than having Green Bay Packers’ rookie Randall Cobb run back a kickoff 108 yards for a TD. His return was just one of three kickoff returns of more than 100 yards during Kickoff Weekend (49ers Ted Ginn and the Vikings Percy Harvin were the others).

7 – After seven seasons with the Cardinals, Anquan Boldin made history when he faced his former team in Week 8. The Ravens WR had seven catches for 145 yards which is the most yardage by any receiver in his first game against a team in which he racked up 7,500 receiving yards.

6 – Tebow mania has struck in Denver and around the country. When QB Tim Tebow and the Broncos came back to beat Chicago two weeks ago it marked the Broncos’ sixth straight win and seventh in eight games since he took over as the starter. That includes a remarkable six wins they had after trailing in the second half.

5 – or should I say 500. Tom Brady has a great start to yet another season when he became the 11th player in NFL history to pass for 500 yards in a game. He followed that performance with 423 yards in Week 2 to make him the only player to follow a 500-yard game with a 400-yard effort.

4 – The Steelers Ben Roethlisberger earned his 70th win as a starting QB during a Week 2 shutout of the Seattle Seahawks. It was his 100th career start which made it the fourth fewest games needed to reach the milestone. The only other QBs to reach 70 wins faster were Roger Staubach, Tom Brady, and Ken Stabler.

3 – Week 15 marked just the third time in league history that an undefeated team was handed their first loss of the season on the same day (at least 11 games into the season) that a winless team earned its first victory. That came last Sunday when the Chiefs upset the Packers and the Colts beat the Titans.

2 – It took until the NFL’s 92nd season before two rookie quarterbacks threw for 3,000 yards. The Panthers Cam Newton and the Bengals Andy Dalton now hold that distinction.

1 – There’s nothing like the first time. The Houston Texans earned their first playoff berth in style by clinching the AFC South with three weeks remaining in the season when third-string rookie QB T.J. Yates passed for 300 yards and threw the game-winning TD pass with two seconds to play in Houston’s 20-19 win over the Bengals in Week 14.

Of course, I expect some of these to be trumped in the remaining couple of weeks of the regular season along with the typically exciting NFL playoffs.

And in the spirit of the holidays let me take time to thank the staffs of the NFL, Elias Sports, and our very own research team in Canton who spend countless hours compiling and charting facts about this great game we all love.

I wish you all a happy and safe holiday season.

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