Joe Thomas had lined up at left tackle for every Cleveland Browns offensive play since the opener of the 2007 season, more than 10,000 straight snaps—10,363 to be exact. Until Sunday.
Through an unpredictable, incomprehensible, baffling 2017 season, we had one rock. As the league has been beset by historic parity, as the normally reliable Patriots shifted from great to maybe-average to great again, as star players on both sides of the ball suffered major injuries with alarming regularity, there was always Joe Thomas. On every Browns offensive snap, he stood at left tackle—not only in 2017, but for every snap since the 2007 season began. The last time the Browns didn't have Thomas at left tackle for any play was December 31, 2006 (when QB Charlie Frye led Cleveland against David Carr's Texans). Thomas had played more than 10,000 straight snaps—10,363 to be exact.
Thomas kept the streak up by turning to cryotherapy and Chinese medicine; by playing through three MCL sprains, two high ankle sprains, and an LCL tear; by sending would-be replacement Vinston Painter back to the sideline on Oct. 12, 2014. "I kind of thought he was superhuman or something where nothing could happen to him," left guard Joel Bitonio told Cleveland.com. Thomas blocked for more than 20 different QBs during the streak, including DeShone Kizer, who was in fifth grade the last time the Browns had someone else play left tackle, and who has already been benched twice this season. And yet, there was nothing Thomas could do midway through the third quarter besides collapse to the ground and cry out after injuring his arm blocking on a Duke Johnson run. Early reports were that it could be a torn left triceps.
The injury has little impact of note on the field, outside of increasing 0-7 Cleveland's odds of beating out the 49ers and others for the top pick. But don't tell the Browns that. For a group of players that should be accustomed to loss—Sunday's 12-9 overtime defeat to the Titans at home was the team's 24th in its last 25 games—they managed to find an untapped reserve of despair in the wake of Thomas's injury. Coach Hue Jackson told Thomas, I love you, and quarterback Cody Kessler "choked up a little bit on the field." And The Factory of Sadness hit a new low.
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1. Patriots 23, Falcons 7. So much for the revenge factor. On a foggy night in Foxborough, New England shut down the Atlanta offense. Suspect play-calling by Falcons offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, particularly on a fourth-quarter fourth-and-goal jet sweep, also played a role. Sark's unit did not score until there was 4:09 left in the game, ending a 91-minute drought.
2. Steelers 29, Bengals 14. Le'Veon Bell had another dominant performance, accruing 192 yards on 38 touches (is that workload sustainable?). Andy Dalton, meanwhile, threw the ball away on a late fourth down, while Vontaze Burfict appeared to try to kick a Steeler in the head. Some things never change.
3. Bills 30, Buccaneers 27. At the end of a back-and-forth game in Buffalo, rookie corner Tre'Davious White forced and recovered a fumble at the Tampa 25, setting up the game-winning field goal.
4. Vikings 24, Ravens 16. Former Raiders running back Latavius Murray exploded for the Vikings, going off for 113 yards on 18 carries. Otherwise, this was a kicking competition as Kai Forbath nailed all six (six!) of his field-goal tries (but missed a PAT) and Justin Tucker was three-for-three, accounting for every Baltimore point before a garbage-time touchdown.
5. Chargers 21, Broncos 0. Remember when Denver blew out the Cowboys? Now, this offense can't seem to score—literally in this game. The AFC West got a lot messier this weekend.
6. Saints 26, Packers 17. Since Week 3, New Orleans is right there with Minnesota and Jacksonville for fewest offensive/special teams points allowed per game. This time, the Saints held the Packers to 260 yards. In his first start, Aaron Rodgers replacement Brett Hundley was 12-of-25 for 87 yards with one interception, though he did gain 44 yards and a score on the ground.
7. Bears 17, Panthers 3. Chicago had five first downs, and won. Mitchell Trubisky threw seven passes (completing four), and it was enough thanks to two touchdowns by rookie safety Eddie Jackson (one fumble return, one interception) and another strong performance from the Bears defense.
8. Rams 33, Cardinals 0. London was treated to another rout. Carson Palmer broke his arm and Adrian Peterson was held to 21 yards while Todd Gurley gained 106.
9. Seahawks 24, Giants 7. Seattle scored 24 unanswered points to get the road win as the Giants offense refound ineptitude.
10. Jaguars 27, Colts 0. With Leonard Fournette out with a right ankle injury, Blake Bortles had his best game of the year (330 yards, one touchdown, no interceptions) and the defense put on another display of dominance. The Jaguars are now on pace for an NFL-record 75 sacks.
11. Cowboys 40, 49ers 10. If the uncertainty of his legal situation is weighing on Ezekiel Elliott, he didn't show it Sunday, tying a career high with three touchdowns while gaining 219 yards from scrimmage. San Francisco QB C.J. Beathard had a first start to forget, marked by two lost fumbles.
12. Dolphins 31, Jets 28. Matt Moore came in for an injured Jay Cutler and threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns to move Miami to 4-2. On the other side, Josh McCown had a decent game before throwing an interception at his own 23 with 47 seconds left, setting up the Dolphins for the game-winning kick.
13. Titans 12, Browns 9 (OT). Oh, Cleveland. Ryan Succop's 47-yarder with 1:55 left in overtime sent the Browns to 0-7. The Succop kick helped Tennessee avoid some serious embarrassment after Marcus Mariota & Co. failed to score a touchdown against a depleted defense.
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Former Virginia Tech quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw a touchdown pass to . . . former Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas.