On the Numbers: Cam Newton joins elite company in Week 15
1:42 | NFL
On the Numbers: Cam Newton joins elite company in Week 15
Monday December 21st, 2015

Welcome to Week 15 of “On the Numbers,” a weekly column that mines for statistical oddities and numerical fun facts from around the NFL.

This week saw Danny Woodhead become the first player to score four touchdowns in a game since… Jonas Gray.

And David Johnson became the first player to rush for 187 yards and three touchdowns since… Jonas Gray.

And Antonio Brown become the first player to catch 16 passes in a game since… Antonio Brown. He’s now the first person ever to do it twice in one season.

There was plenty more to track from across the league.

Complete coverage of NFL Week 15: News, analysis, highlights, more

Feats of strength

Another week, another Cam Newton box score explosion. Newton threw for five touchdowns Sunday, as the Panthers built up a big lead early against the Giants, and then came through at the end on Carolina’s game-winning field goal drive.

Newton hit the five touchdown benchmark for the third time in five weeks.

In doing so, he became just the fifth quarterback since 1960 with three games of at least five touchdowns in a whole season. And Newton has done it three times in less than 30 days. Here’s the list he joins:

Peyton Manning Colts 2004 4
Daunte Culpepper Vikings 2004 3
Tom Brady Patriots 2007 3
Drew Brees Saints 2011 3
Cam Newton Panthers 2015 3

Newton has a chance to tie (or, dare I suggest pass) Manning the next two weeks, but either way he’s grouped himself with some of the most memorable QB seasons of this century.

Week 15 Snaps: Instant classic shows Panthers, Giants couldn’t be less alike

The stat you’re more likely to have seen already is that Newton became the first player ever with five touchdown passes and 100 rushing yards in the same game. Every single yard mattered, as Newton’s 10-yard scramble on the final drive game him an even 100 and set up Graham Gano for a 43-yard game-winning field goal.

So, has anyone else ever come close to his performance?

In order to be a little more inclusive and give some context into just how difficult Cam's feat might be, I lowered the end points. It turns out nobody had ever even run for 50 yards in a game in which they had five passing touchdowns. The record was 49 yards rushing in two games you just might remember: Newton two weeks ago against New Orleans and Steve Young against the Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX.

Moving in the other direction, not many players have found the end zone very often with their arms on days they ran for 100 yards with their legs.  Only one other time had a player even thrown for four touchdowns to go along with 100 rushing yards.  And only three players had even thrown for three touchdowns and cracked the century mark on the ground:

Randall Cunningham 1990 Eagles Patriots 124 4
Michael Vick 2010 Eagles Giants 130 3
Marcus Mariota 2015 Titans Jaguars 112 3
Cam Newton 2015 Panthers Giants 100 5

A couple of these games were pretty memorable too. One was the Eagles game five years ago Saturday, also against the Giants, when they erased a 21-point fourth quarter deficit and won on DeSean Jackson’s walk-off punt return. Another was Marcus Mariota two weeks ago against the Titans, when he ran for an 87-yard touchdown which I broke down in Week 13’s On the Numbers.

Of course those games were still two touchdown passes short of what Newton did.

So not only did Newton have a day nobody else has ever had, but not many guys have even come particularly close.

Going streaking

Doug Baldwin did it again, catching multiple touchdown passes for the fourth consecutive game. It didn’t take the Seahawks’ receiver very long, as he caught his second with 9:56 left in the second quarter.

He now joins Calvin Johnson (2011) and Cris Carter (1995) as the only players to do that in four straight games, and nobody has ever done it in five.

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Thanks to a pair of three-touchdown efforts, he actually has 10 receiving touchdowns in his last four games, and 13 on the season. Thirteen touchdowns is a pretty solid campaign, good enough to be top five in the league in any given year. Even 10 could be a season’s worth for most players. In fact, you could make a pretty impressive list of wide receivers who never eclipsed 10 touchdowns in a season.

Take, say, Hall of Famer Michael Irvin for instance. Irvin’s career high was 10 touchdowns, which he did once, in 1995. So in Irvin’s whole career he never had more touchdowns in a season than Doug Baldwin has had in the last four games. Here are some other prominent wide receivers and tight ends who fit that description. And if you come up with any other good ones, feel free to pass them along on Twitter.

Andre Reed 16 87 10 1991
Andre Johnson 13 67 9 2009
Santana Moss 14 66 10 2003
Michael Irvin 12 65 10 1995
Keyshawn Johnson 11 64 10 1998
Shannon Sharpe 14 62 10 1996, ’98
Jason Witten 13 59 9 2010
Ed McCaffrey 13 55 10 1998
Dave Casper 11 52 10 1976
Wes Welker 12 50 10 2013
Dwight Clark 9 48 10 1985
DeSean Jackson 8 42 9 2009, ’13
Julio Jones 5 33 10 2012

And again, these are players whose season totals never topped what Baldwin has done in the last four games. None of them ever sniffed the 13 he’s tallied with two more weeks to go in the season.

The Seahawks have won five games in a row, clinched a playoff spot and discovered a new touchdown machine.

Great moments in Vegas

So, about that 28-point deficit the Giants erased against the Panthers.

I hope those of you holding Giants +4 or +4.5 tickets didn’t tear them up early in the third quarter. The Giants couldn’t quite win the game, but holding the Panthers to a field goal on that last drive did give them one of the most hard-earned covers of the season in a 38–35 loss.

Steelers overwhelm Broncos in 2nd half, keep rolling toward playoff spot

The last couple weeks seem to have had more blowouts than bad beats, but Week 15 did have a few games that held interest for a full 60 minutes. Honorable mention goes to Seahawks-Browns, in which Seattle mounted a 13-play fourth quarter drive that ended in a Steven Hauschka field goal. The mostly meaningless kick pushed Seattle’s lead to 30–13, so they could cover for anyone who bet them at -14.5.

The other fun game of the day was Steelers 34, Broncos 27. The Steelers opened at -6.5 earlier in the week at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.  Gamblers evidently liked that half point below seven, as the line moved and closed at Steelers -7.5  So of course the Steelers won by exactly seven, resulting in happy Steelers bettors, angry Steelers bettors, happy Broncos bettors and angry Broncos bettors, all depending on which day of the week they placed their bets.

13 going on forever

The Texans finally (!) won in Indianapolis on their 14th try. Thirteen years in a row, they went to their division rival’s building and came home with a loss. All it took to finally get in the win column was the unlikely combination of T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden at quarterback.

Houston has had some wonderful quarterback play over the years, so here’s a look back at the list of guys they’ve trotted out against the Colts. Below are the Yates and Weeden stats from Sunday, followed by Houston’s all-time passing yardage totals in Indy going into this week.

Week 15:

T.J. Yates 6 10 60 68 0 1
Brandon Weeden 11 18 61 106 1 0
TOTAL 17 28 61 173 1 1

All-time, Houston at Indianapolis:

The team had been 0–13, with quarterbacks compiling nine touchdowns and 16 interceptions. When Weeden threw the go-ahead eight yard touchdown pass to Jaelen Strong in the fourth quarter, it marked the first touchdown pass in Indy by a Texans quarterback since Matt Schaub threw one to Andre Johnson all the way back in 2010.

Forget the losing streak, the Texans hadn’t even thrown a touchdown pass in Lucas Oil Stadium in more than five years! The streak lasted four full games and parts of two others, totaling 317 minutes and 42 seconds of game time.

But that’s all in the past now for the Texans, who have two incredible streaks of ineptitude finally behind them.

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