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NFL Report: Statistics take back seat to wins




Here’s reason No. 2,386 why fantasy leagues pervert sports.

One of the NFL’s most hallowed single-season records has already been surpassed, and another could fall this Sunday.

Detroit’s Calvin Johnson surpassed Jerry Rice’s 17-year-old record for season receiving yards in Saturday night’s loss to Atlanta.

And Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson is 207 yards shy of Eric Dickerson’s mark of 2,105 rushing yards, which has stood since 1984.

Both efforts are worth celebrating. Johnson, nicknamed “Megatron,” is the NFL’s prototypical 21st-century receiver: big, fast and sure-handed.

Peterson also will go down as one of the best runners in NFL history. And it’s even more impressive that he’s only one year and two days removed from a gruesome knee injury that threatened to end his career.

Anyone who has either of these superstars on a fantasy team is likely ecstatic about their production.

But Johnson’s Lions are 4–11. And Peterson’s Vikings (9–6) could miss the playoffs as well if they don’t beat the first-place Green Bay Packers in their regular-season finale this Sunday.

It certainly isn’t the fault of either man that his team isn’t better. And the fact that each has put up mind-boggling numbers against defenses geared to stop them speaks volumes for their talents.

Still, records should be kept in perspective.

When Rice set his record in 1995, the 49ers finished 11–5 and won the NFC West. Dickerson gained 2,105 yards for a 10–6 L.A. Rams team that earned a wild-card berth.

Even last season, when Drew Brees broke Dan Marino’s record with 5,476 passing yards and two other quarterbacks (Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford) also topped 5,000, all three led their respective teams into the playoffs.

On Saturday night, as Detroit vainly tried to catch up to the Atlanta Falcons, the Lions’ second-half play calls rarely varied. Knowing they weren’t likely to win, they padded Johnson’s numbers.

Even ESPN analyst Jon Gruden—who rarely has anything bad to say about the NFL—noticed.

“They don’t keep a record of meaningless yards, and these are meaningless yards,” Gruden said. “I hate to say it, but they are.”

More power to Johnson, who also set NFL single-season records for consecutive 100-yard receiving games (eight) and consecutive 10-catch games (four). But he’ll be watching the playoffs on TV.

Peterson might be resigned to the same fate—along with teammate Billy Walsh, whose NFL record of nine field goals of 50 yards or longer has gotten far less attention.

Similarly, Dallas’ Jason Witten set a season record for receptions by a tight end (102) in Sunday’s loss to New Orleans. Think he’d trade that mark for a victory over the Redskins Sunday night and the NFC East title that would accompany it?

The NFL loves to promote its fantasy leagues, and fans can’t get enough of statistics. But it’s important to remember that the numbers that matter most are the final scores—and a team’s won-lost record.


Trying to end the season on a high note, the Pick (2–13) will take a shot on Michael Vick and the Eagles (9-point road underdogs) sending Andy Reid out with a victory over the stumbling Giants, whose playoff hopes have already gone over a fiscal cliff.

Steve DeShazo: 540/374-5443


    1. Broncos (12–3)

    No. 1 seed still possible.

    2. Falcons (13–2)

    Will they rest starters?

    3. Packers (11–4)

    No. 2 seed is No. 1 goal.

    4. Patriots (11–4)

    First halves are a struggle.

    5. Seahawks (10–5)

    A different team at home.

    6. Texans (12–3)

    Much at stake in finale.

    7. 49ers (10–4–1)

    Last six quarters were awful.

    8. Redskins (9–6)

    Nation will be watching.

    9. Colts (10–5)

    Pagano’s return is a boost.

    10. Ravens (10–5)

    Got monkey off their backs.

    11. Vikings (9–6)

    Peterson rested for finale.

    12. Bengals (9–6)

    Locked into No. 6 seed.

    13. Bears (9–6)

    Need a win and some help.

    14. Saints (7–8)

    Tumultuous year closing.

    15. Cowboys (8–7)

    It’s division title or bust.

    16. Rams (7–7–1)

    Last winning season: 2003.

    17. Panthers (6–9)

    Accorsi will pick new GM.

    18. Giants (8–7)

    “Help wanted” sign is out.

    19. Steelers (7–8)

    Ben’s mistakes cost them.

    20. Dolphins (7–8)

    .500 is only goal left.

    21. Chargers (6–9)

    Can Norv go out with win?

    22. Buccaneers (6–9)

    Guys, you play 16 games.

    23. Browns (5–10)

    Limping into season finale.

    24. Jets (6–9)

    QB sideshow dwarfs ills.

    25. Bills (5–10)

    Is Gailey’s job in peril?

    26. Cardinals (5–10)

    Hoyer may get start at QB.

    27. Lions (4–11)

    Johnson’s mark is only plus.

    28. Titans (5–10)

    Last in points allowed.

    29. Eagles (4–11)

    Vick gets one more start.

    30. Raiders (4–11)

    Palmer may sit out finale.

    31. Jaguars (2–13)

    Tebow’s landing spot?

    32. Chiefs (2–13)

    Ran for 352 yards and lost.