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Tom Brady, Lamar Jackson and others on pace to challenge some big NFL records

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Records are meant to be broken. In the NFL, a whopping four of the biggest season-based records could be rewritten by the time the 2021 season ends.

While the 2021 season has 17 games for the first time — instead of the 16 of the past — some of the records could be broken even without the extra game on the schedule.

There’s no surprise that Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is on the list, challenging Peyton Manning’s record for most passing yards in a season.

It’s not just records on offense either. Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has his eyes on Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record.

Let’s take a look at the four records that could be broken:

Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Record: Most passing yards in a season

Current record holder: Peyton Manning (5,477 yards in 2013)

Brady’s current average yards per game: 331.2 yards per game

Average needed to break it: 314 yards

Projected total: 5,631 yards

So far in 2021, Brady ranks in the top two in the league in total QBR, passing yards per game and touchdown passes, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

He has thrown for 2,650 yards in the first eight games of the season, with a season high of 432 against the Los Angeles Rams.

Brady, a 22-year veteran, could set personal-best marks this season. In 2011, he threw for 5,235 yards, averaging 327 yards per game. Brady had 25 touchdowns in the first half of this season and could eclipse his personal best of 50 touchdowns in 2007.


Record: Most receiving yards in a season

Current record holder: Calvin Johnson (1,964 yards in 2012)

Kupp’s current average yards per game: 113.2 yards per game

Average needed to break it: 118.1 yards

Projected total: 1,924 yards

Kupp has been Rams QB Matthew Stafford’s go-to receiver, and L.A. is 7-2 so far this season. Kupp and Jerry Rice are the only two receivers to record 1,000-plus receiving yards and 10 or more touchdowns through the first nine games of a season.

A third-round draft pick in 2017 by the Rams, Kupp has a league-high 74 catches for 1,019 yards, as well as 10 touchdowns.

When Kupp matches up against San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel on Monday Night Football this week, it will be the first matchup involving two players averaging at least 110 receiving yards per game in Week 7 or later in NFL history. Kupp’s share of the targets could change. On Thursday, the Rams announced they had signed free agent receiver Odell Beckham Jr.


Record: Most rushing yards by a QB in a season

Current record holder: Lamar Jackson (1,206 yards in 2019)

Jackson’s current average yards per game: 71 yards per game

Average needed to break it: 70.8 yards

Projected total: 1,207 yards

Jackson’s 2021 season is looking a lot like his prior two seasons. In 2019, he rushed for a record 1,206 yards, breaking Michael Vick’s record for most rushing yards by a QB in a season. Jackson is the only QB to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season twice.

With 639 yards rushing through nine games, Jackson leads his team with the most rushing yards. Baltimore is 6-3 and 1st in the AFC North, and Jackson has either thrown or rushed for a touchdown in 45 straight games, the longest active streak in the NFL.

In Week 9’s win over the Minnesota Vikings, Jackson recorded his 12th career 100-yard rushing game (including the postseason), which set an NFL record for quarterbacks. In his fourth NFL season, Jackson moved past Vick, who had 11 such games across his 13-year career. Jackson has produced 10 100-yard rushing games during the regular season, which ties Vick.

Myles Garrett, DE, Cleveland Browns

Record: Most sacks in a season

Current record holder: Michael Strahan (22.5 sacks in 2001)

Garrett’s current average sacks per game: 1.3 sacks per game

Average needed to break it: 1.3 sacks

Projected total: 22 sacks

One of the best — if not the best — pass-rushers in the AFC, Garrett not only leads the NFL in sacks with 12, but also tackles for loss (12) and sack yards (66).

Garrett has already surpassed his 2019 (10) and tied his 2020 sack total, just nine games into the 2021 season.

There’s a reason why Garrett went as the “Sack Reaper” for Halloween, after all.

ESPN Stats & Information research was used in this story.



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Matt Nagy thankful for how Chicago Bears handled ‘distractions’ to pull out win over Detroit Lions

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DETROIT — Matt Nagy could let out a sigh of relief on Thanksgiving.

With all the scrutiny the Chicago Bears coach faced regarding his job status over the past week, the 16-14 victory over the Lions made him extremely thankful for a much-needed celebration as they snapped a five-game losing skid.

“When there’s distractions, which is in every sport, in all facets of life — there’s always going to be distractions,” Nagy said. “It’s how you handle them. And again, we got the win today, and it could’ve went a lot of different ways. But the reason why we got the win is because of how they handled the distractions, you know? That’s where to me, when you’re in this business and you lead people, it’s my job to make sure of honest and open communication. That’s where, for me, I just can’t tell you how much this win means today to me because of what they did.”

Controversy surrounded the Bears this week after Patch.com reported on Tuesday that the Bears had already informed Nagy that Thanksgiving’s game against the Lions would be his last, regardless of the outcome. Nagy firmly denied that report, calling it “false,” and Bears team chairman George McCaskey addressed players Wednesday, reinforcing to them that Nagy would not be fired after the game.

Although players wouldn’t go into detail about the meeting, quarterback Andy Dalton said the outside noise didn’t come within the team as it was able to close out the win with a last-second 28-yard field goal by kicker Cairo Santos.

The Bears drove the ball 18 plays over the final 8:30 of the game before kicking the game-winning field goal as time expired for their first win since Week 5.

“I think that, like I said, there’s a lot that has gone on,” said Dalton, who became the first Bears QB with a 300-yard passing game since Nick Foles did it in Week 9 of the 2020 season. “The most important thing is the guys in the locker room staying together throughout it all.

“Regardless of what’s being reported, regardless of what’s going on in the outside and stuff, there’s still a lot of season left. For us, the focus is on winning games. I think that’s the biggest thing for us is just doing everything we can to put our best foot forward and to make the most of the next one, and that was today, and we did that.”

Now that the Bears have a win, Nagy is looking to go about his business to keep this team locked in.

Nagy said he hasn’t allowed the chatter about his job status to hurt his ability to coach the team and that it hasn’t affected him on a personal level because of his support system in place. He hopes to continue that with everything now cleared up.

“Again, for me, there is only my understanding, which is what it’s been since the day I signed up to be this coach, is to win as many games as I can possibly win, and do it the right way,” Nagy said of his understanding of his job security moving forward. “When you lose five games in a row, you understand. When you’re 3-7, you know what territory it can get to. You know what I mean? That comes with the job. I knew that four years ago when I took this, and so here we are. Every week is a little bit different.

“This one was definitely different. This is one of those weeks where you use it moving forward. You don’t make any predictions, but what you do is when you go home on that plane tonight and everyone’s having a good time because they’re able to celebrate and have fun watching the tape and enjoy their Thanksgiving and get back to being healthy and understand what games are next, but the only game that matters is Arizona coming up. That’s it. So again, for me, the only thing I can say to those players is that I appreciate them and we have a hell of a group of guys, players and coaches, and they showed it today by getting a win.”

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Mark Ingram inactive as short-handed New Orleans Saints take on Zack Moss-less Buffalo Bills

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NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram II and Buffalo Bills running back Zack Moss are both inactive for Thursday night’s game in the Caesars Superdome.

Ingram was listed as questionable with a knee injury, while Moss was a healthy scratch.

Ingram’s absence is another significant blow to New Orleans’ depleted offense since backfield mate Alvin Kamara was already ruled out Wednesday with his own knee injury.

Second-year pro Tony Jones Jr. will likely serve as the Saints’ leading runner, with veteran RB/WR Ty Montgomery II among those helping to carry the load. However, it’s unclear if the Saints will use quarterback Taysom Hill as part of their running game since he is their only active backup QB (Ian Book was a healthy scratch).

Kamara has now missed three games with his knee injury, but he is expected back soon and was never placed on injured reserve. Ingram also should not be sidelined long term since he was able to practice on a limited basis Wednesday before ultimately being ruled out.

Jones (5-foot-11, 224 pounds) joined the Saints as an undrafted rookie out of Notre Dame last year and earned a spot on their 53-man roster this season ahead of veteran Latavius Murray. However, he has only played in five games this season because of an ankle injury he suffered in Week 4. He has 25 career carries for 92 yards and four career receptions for 10 yards with zero touchdowns.

The Saints (5-5) also previously ruled out starting right tackle Ryan Ramczyk and defensive ends Marcus Davenport and Tanoh Kpassagnon with injuries earlier this week, and they placed starting tight end Adam Trautman on injured reserve.

Moss, meanwhile, is inactive in part because of the recent success of running back Matt Breida, who had eight carries for 79 yards and two total touchdowns in the past two games. Wide receiver/kick returner Isaiah McKenzie is also inactive for the first time this season as a healthy scratch. Rookie receiver Marquez Stevenson is expected to return punts and kickoffs in his NFL debut after coming off injured reserve this week.

ESPN Bills reporter Alaina Getzenberg contributed to this report.

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Mark Ingram inactive as shorthanded New Orleans Saints take on Zack Moss-less Buffalo Bills

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NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram II and Buffalo Bills running back Zack Moss are both inactive for Thursday night’s game in the Caesars Superdome.

Ingram was listed as questionable with a knee injury, while Moss was a healthy scratch.

Ingram’s absence is another significant blow to New Orleans’ depleted offense since backfield mate Alvin Kamara was already ruled out Wednesday with his own knee injury.

Second-year pro Tony Jones Jr. will likely serve as the Saints’ leading runner, with veteran RB/WR Ty Montgomery II among those helping to carry the load. However, it’s unclear if the Saints will use quarterback Taysom Hill as part of their running game since he is their only active backup QB (Ian Book was a healthy scratch).

Kamara has now missed three games with his knee injury, but he is expected back soon and was never placed on injured reserve. Ingram also should not be sidelined long term since he was able to practice on a limited basis Wednesday before ultimately being ruled out.

Jones (5-foot-11, 224 pounds) joined the Saints as an undrafted rookie out of Notre Dame last year and earned a spot on their 53-man roster this season ahead of veteran Latavius Murray. However, he has only played in five games this season because of an ankle injury he suffered in Week 4. He has 25 career carries for 92 yards and four career receptions for 10 yards with zero touchdowns.

The Saints (5-5) also previously ruled out starting right tackle Ryan Ramczyk and defensive ends Marcus Davenport and Tanoh Kpassagnon with injuries earlier this week, and they placed starting tight end Adam Trautman on injured reserve.

Moss, meanwhile, is inactive in part because of the recent success of running back Matt Breida, who had eight carries for 79 yards and two total touchdowns in the last two games. Wide receiver/kick returner Isaiah McKenzie is also inactive for the first time this season as a healthy scratch. Rookie receiver Marquez Stevenson is expected to return punts and kickoffs in his NFL debut after coming off injured reserve this week.

ESPN Bills reporter Alaina Getzenberg contributed to this report

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