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  • Writer's pictureTopher Enneking

NFL Week 12 StatStories

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

NFL week 12 saw record breaking stats from players across the league

As with every week in sports, week 12 in the NFL had statistical stories that connect us to the game’s past, present, and future. Let's dig in to what we spotted.

The season of the pick 6?

Interceptions returned for a touchdown was the statistic that our CMO Melody found fascinating in week 1. It turns out her stat sense must have been tingling. In only his 11th game of the season, DaRon Bland, a second-year cornerback out of Sacramento State, set the NFL record for most interceptions returned for a touchdown when he got his 5th. Bland's journey from fifth round pick to his fifth pick 6 is a story of taking advantage of every opportunity. Bland is again getting to play due to injury. Just like in his rookie season, Bland has gone from fill-in to phenom. After getting 5 interceptions in his rookie season as a nickel back, Bland now leads the NFL in total interceptions with seven this year. Crediting his coach Al Harris (a former two time Pro Bowl cornerback for the Packers) and the mentorship of his teammates Stefan Gilmore and Trevon Diggs, whom he is playing in place of, Bland has only allowed a 19.3 passer rating against him. We could very well be witnessing the rise of the NFL’s next great playmaker because the only thing bland about this guy is his name.

Travis Kelce doing what he do

With six catches for 91 yards, Travis Kelce became the first Chief ever to catch over 11,000 yards in his career. Kelce was the fastest tight end in history to reach 11,000 receiving yards, having gotten there 37 games faster than Chiefs great Tony Gonzalez (who didn’t pass 11,000 until after leaving Kansas City). Kelce became the 17th fastest player at any position to 11,000 receiving yards and the game brought him to over 1,000 yards receiving for the eighth straight year.

Run Jalen run

Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts smiles at his teammates as they celebrate a win.
Jalen Hurts celebrates post-game. Photo courtesy Philadelphia Eagles.

With his game-winning touchdown on a quarterback draw, Jalen Hurts passed — or should I say, ran by — Cam Newton for most ever games with more than one rushing touchdown for a quarterback. He became the first ever NFL QB to have 10 plus rushing touchdowns in three seasons (in the history of the NFL no other quarterback has even had 2). In an era of offenses airing it out, where everyone swears that speed kills, Jalen and the Philadelphia Eagles seem to have gone back in a time machine, proving that being able to physically overwhelm your opponents with strength and power is still a successful strategy in the NFL today. I wonder how many of his touchdowns came on the Brotherly Shove, AKA the tush push?

This rookie is going crazy

CJ Stroud is having one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time. His performances have been so epic he is regularly sited in the MVP conversation. This week he became the first ever rookie with 300 plus passing yards in four consecutive games. His ability to work with new coach DeMeco Ryans to flip the fortunes of this perennially poor franchise has been the stuff of lore. Spectacular passing performances and last second comebacks have become the norm for fans of the Texans and undoubtedly they see this new pairing of coach and quarterback as their path to stability and success for the next decade.

No one can outrun Lamar

Lamar Jackson runs with the ball against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Lamar Jackson runs with the ball to win against the Los Angeles Chargers. Photo courtesy Baltimore Ravens.

To no surprise of anyone, Lamar Jackson has found another way to be the fastest quarterback. This week he became the fastest quarterback to reach 5000 rushing yards. Unfortunately, Jackson has also lost his favorite target in Mark Andrews, but the quick connections he has formed with young receivers Rashod Bateman and Zay Flowers and his electric abilities as a runner might still give the former MVP enough weapons to finally answer the critics who say he needs to win in the playoffs.

The Steelers play defense and finally a little offense

It's no surprise to most of us that TJ Watt continued to climb up the NFL's career sack leader list. In week 12, he became the second ever player to have 90 plus sacks in their first 100 games, reaching 91 in his 98th game. Watt only trails Reggie White — the Hall of Fame great who had 105 sacks in his first 100 games. It's obviously highly unlikely that Watt will be able to get 14 sacks in two games, but one thing is for certain: he will cement himself in an elite category by the end of the year. There's even been talk of Watt winning MVP because of how many big plays he's made at the end of close Steelers wins. The Steelers have been carried by their defense most of the year, but week 12 became the first game all season that they out-gained their opponents. It was also the first game that they gained 400 yards. Perhaps this turn around in the Pittsburgh offense will spark more opponents to throw the ball and Watt will climb even closer to White in the next two weeks.

Who says you need touchdowns?

For the first time all year, a team won a game without scoring a touchdown. It will come as little surprise to anyone who's been following the last few years that that team was the Chicago Bears. Another team that seems to have a quarterback curse on it, the Bears and Justin Fields just can't seem to find their way into the endzone.

Even in a down year, this guy breaks records

Patrick Mahomes slips the ball to Isiah Pacheco during the Chiefs game against the Raiders.
Patrick Mahomes slips the ball to Isiah Pacheco during the Chiefs game against the Raiders. Photo courtesy Kansas City Chiefs.

Patrick Mahomes is now the player with the most multiple passing touchdown game in their first seven years. Breaking Dan Marino's old record, Mahomes threw multiple touchdowns for the 65th time in week 12. The Chiefs’ offense seemed to break out of its funk, so one would imagine Mahomes will add plenty more to that total before the season is over. It's wild to think how much distance he'll be able to put on the former record holder given that Mahomes only played in one game his rookie season.

Final thoughts about NFL week 12

I love how the game’s numbers can transcend time. As I write about these statistical accomplishments, I'm reminded of watching the former record holders play. I remember thinking no one could ever have a better rookie season or throw more touchdowns than Dan Marino or that no QB could ever be a more powerful runner than Cam Newton. It brings me back to how many years I've been fortunate enough to watch great Kansas City tight ends change the way offense is run. It might not be true in every arena in life but in sports statistics seem to solidify our memories allowing us a simple mnemonic so that we might access memories and connect meaningful moments. I can't wait to see what StatStories next week brings.


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