NFL: 2008 Season Review
2008 NFL Season Review
WOW, WAS ’08 GREAT!
Scoring at a 43-year high…teams turning things around and making the playoffs…rookie first-round quarterbacks starting from Week 1 under rookie head coaches and them all going to the playoffs…Tennessee’s streak…the Giants calmly going about their business…DREW BREES putting on a weekly aerial show…rookie running backs taking over offenses…the solid NFC South…dominating, shut-down defenses…and it all coming down to Week 17 with half the divisions still to be clinched!
“You get everybody’s best every week,” says Tennessee Titans head coach JEFF FISHER, whose club opened the season with a 10-game winning streak.
A perfect example of that approach came in Week 17 when Brees’ Saints – out of the playoff race – still fought the Carolina Panthers down to, literally, the last second of the game before a JOHN KASAY 42-yard field goal won the battle 33-31 and earned the Panthers the NFC South title.
It doesn’t matter what the situation, the commitment and character throughout the NFL shows every week.
“That’s why fans love the NFL,” says the 2008 Associated Press NFL Comeback Player of the Year CHAD PENNINGTON of the Miami Dolphins, who made the playoffs with an 11-5 record after finishing 1-15 the year before. “In any given year, your team can be the surprise team in the league.”
The NFL is built on surprises, week after week, and they lead to the kind of performances that took place in the great 2008:
· Scoring per game was the highest it has been in 43 years. Games averaged 44.1 points, the most since 46.1 in 1965.
· There were six new division winners – Arizona, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota, the New York Giants and Tennessee -- tying 2003 for the most such clubs since realignment was instituted in 2002. “It feels great,” says Carolina quarterback JAKE DELHOMME. “This division is probably the toughest in football.” Well, the NFC South did have the league’s most combined wins (40).
· For the 13th consecutive season, at least five teams made the playoffs that were not in them the year before. Seven clubs -- Arizona, Atlanta, Baltimore, Carolina, Miami, Minnesota and Philadelphia -- accomplished the feat this year, with four of them (Atlanta, Baltimore, Miami and Philadelphia) rebounding from last-place finishes in 2007.
Four of the teams – Atlanta (7-game improvement), Baltimore (6), Carolina (5) and Miami (10) – combined to show a 28-game win-improvement from 2007 to 2008. The Dolphins tied 1999 Indianapolis for the biggest jump in wins (10) in history. “We shocked the world,” says Miami linebacker MATT ROTH. “We shocked ourselves.”
· It was a historic season for rookie head coaches. Three of them – JOHN HARBAUGH in Baltimore, MIKE SMITH in Atlanta and TONY SPARANO in Miami – took their teams to the playoffs. Three rookie coaches doing this in the same season has only happened once before, in 1992 (BILL COWHER, Pittsburgh; DENNIS GREEN, Minnesota; and BOBBY ROSS, San Diego).
· And speaking of rookies: wow, did they do great in ’08!
Nowhere was this more evident than among rookie quarterbacks -- namely, first-round draft choices MATT RYAN of Atlanta and JOE FLACCO of Baltimore. They combined for many singular accomplishments.
First off, they each started all 16 of their teams’ games, the first time two rookies have done that in the same season in the Super Bowl era (1966). They took their clubs to the biggest increase in wins from the season before than any other rookie QBs who started every game (Ryan, plus-7; Flacco, plus-6). Then they became the only 16-game rookies to lead their clubs to the playoffs in the same season. Finally, they will become the first rookie QB duo to start in the same postseason.
“It is unprecedented what they did,” says Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback STEVE YOUNG.
· And the rookie running backs were out there, too! Three of them – STEVE SLATON of Houston (1,282 yards), MATT FORTÉ of Chicago (1,238) and CHRIS JOHNSON of Tennessee (1,228) became the first rookie RB threesome in history to rush for 1,200 yards apiece.
Forté and Slaton also established team rookie rushing records, as did Carolina’s JONATHAN STEWART (836).
· Speaking of rushing, the New York Giants had two teammates become only the fourth running back duo in history to each rush for 1,000 yards. BRANDON JACOBS totaled 1,089 yards and DERRICK WARD 1,025. The Giants led the NFL in rushing with 157.4 yards per game. “Congratulations, we made history,” Jacobs told Ward after the latter reach 1,000 in Week 17.
And “All Day” just kept going. Minnesota Vikings running back [b]ADRIAN [/B]“ALL DAY” PETERSON – who led the league in rushing with 1,760 yards -- became only the fifth player in history to rush for 3,000 yards (3,101) in his first two seasons (EARL CAMPBELL, 1978-79; ERIC DICKERSON, 1983-84; EDGERRIN JAMES, 1999-00; and CLINTON PORTIS, 2002-03).
· One of the most vaunted NFL records – season passing yards -- was almost broken, and the man who came close to doing it reacted with typical class when he failed to do so. New Orleans Saints quarterback DREW BREES – whose pregame pep-talk to his teammates became one of the visual benchmarks of the season – fell 16 yards short of breaking DAN MARINO’s NFL season record of 5,084 yards in 1984.
“When I sit back and look at it, that record has stood for a long time,” said Brees. “One of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game owns it.” With his team finishing 8-8, that isn’t “necessarily the way that record deserves to be broken,” said Brees. “That’s why I’m able to accept the fact it didn’t happen.” Brees did become only the second QB in history to throw for 5,000 yards.
· Meanwhile, out in the desert air in Arizona, footballs were filling the sky, as they well might in Hawaii.
The Arizona Cardinals’ passing attack helped the club score its most points ever (424), quarterback KURT WARNER throw for a franchise-record 30 touchdowns, and three receivers match a milestone only reached four times in history.
Cardinals wide receivers LARRY FITZGERALD (1,431 yards) and ANQUAN BOLDIN (1,038) – who will join Warner as the NFC starting QB-WRs tandem in the Pro Bowl on February 8 – and STEVE BREASTON (1,006) became the fifth teammate threesome in history to each post 1,000 receiving yards.
· Through all the offense, defenses were not sleeping! The Baltimore Ravens added to their NFL-best streak of not allowing a 100-yard rusher, raising that number to 35 consecutive games. They also led the league with an NFL-best 26 interceptions, including 16 over their last eight games…Dallas Cowboys linebacker DE MARCUS WARE (20.0) came within three of breaking MICHAEL STRAHAN’s NFL season sack record (22.5)…and the Pittsburgh Steelers placed two players in the top 10 in sacks (JAMES HARRISON, 16.0 and LA MARR WOODLEY, 11.5) – the only team with two in the top-10.
· “From one week to the next in this league, things can change,” says New England Patriots quarterback MATT CASSEL. Nothing exhibits that more than the tightness of NFL games. In 2008, 14 percent were decided in the last two minutes or overtime. In 32 percent of the games, a potential game-winning/tying drive or actual game-winning drive took place within the 20-yard line with two minutes to go.
Games continued to be this close. Nearly half were decided by one score:
8 or Less
117 of 256
7 or Less
114 of 256
3 or Less
50 of 256
· The fans could not get enough of it all. Football fans across America continued to tune their televisions to NFL games in huge numbers in 2008. According to Nielsen Media Research, 225 million Americans watched NFL games this season. That is nearly 100 million more than the record number of Americans who voted in the 2008 presidential election (131.2 million).
A rundown of NFL records set and milestones reached in 2008:
CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
· Moved into third place in NFL history with his 11th touchdown off interceptions and fumble returns, ranking him behind Rod Woodson (13) and Aeneas Williams (12).
WR, Arizona Cardinals
· Notched career reception No. 450, reaching that mark the fastest in NFL history (74 games).
QB, New Orleans Saints
· Became only the second QB in league history with 5,000 passing yards in a season, finishing with 5,069 (DAN MARINO; 5,084).
WR, San Francisco 49ers
· Recorded career reception No. 1,000 and is the fifth player to reach the milestone. Other players to reach 1,000 receptions are: Jerry Rice (1,549), Cris Carter (1,101), Marvin Harrison (1,102) and Tim Brown (1,094).
· Passed Tim Brown for second on the career-yards receiving list. Bruce has 14,944 yards, trailing only Jerry Rice (22,895) in the category.
· Became the 14th player in NFL history with 15,000 scrimmage yards.
RB, New Orleans Saints
· Made 200 catches through his first 34 games, tying him with Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin as the NFL players to reach 200 catches in the fewest games.
QB, Washington Redskins
· Surpassed 3,000 passing yards in a season for the first time in his career.
QB, New England Patriots
· Became the fifth NFL quarterback to throw for 400 yards in consecutive games. The others: Dan Fouts, Dan Marino, Phil Simms and Billy Volek.
RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
· Became the sixth player in league history with 10,000 rushing yards and 500 catches.
QB, New York Jets
· Notched his 169th victory, extending his NFL quarterback record.
· Made his 269th consecutive regular-season start, also extending his QB record.
· Broke a tie with Dan Marino for victories in the most NFL stadiums by winning in his 32nd at LP Field. (Week 12)
WR, Arizona Cardinals
· Made his 350th reception in his 64th career game, making him the third fastest to reach that number.
· Caught his 400th career pass. He became the youngest player to do so at 25 years, 119 days. He also reached the mark in 71 games, faster than anyone in league history besides teammate Anquan Boldin (67 games).
TE, San Diego Chargers
· Reached 50 touchdowns in his 92nd game, the fewest in league history for a tight end. Jerry Smith held the record (100 games).
TE, Kansas City Chiefs
· Became the first tight end in NFL history with 900 receptions.
· Became the first tight end with four 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
· Surpassed Shannon Sharpe for NFL receiving-yards record by a tight end with 10,940.
· Moved past Kellen Winslow for the most 100-yard career receiving games (25) for a tight end.
· Moved into 11th place on the career list for receptions with 853. (Week 8)
K, Detroit Lions
· Broke the NFL record for most 50-yard field goals in a career with 41.
· Passed Nick Lowery for eighth place on the NFL's career scoring list with 1,714 points.
WR, Indianapolis Colts
· Passed Cris Carter into sole possession of second place on the NFL’s all-time receptions list with 1,102.
· Moved past Walter Payton and into 10th on the league's career list with his 126th touchdown.
· Passed Jim Brown for ninth on the NFL touchdowns list (128).
WR, St. Louis Rams
· Moved into 12th place on the NFL career receptions list with 869.
RB, Arizona Cardinals
· Became the 14th player in NFL history to surpass 15,000 career yards from scrimmage.
· Surpassed Franco Harris to move to 11th on the NFL career list with his 57th 100-yard rushing game. (Week 17)
WR, Houston Texans
· Matched two NFL records by posting at least 130 yards in four consecutive games and 10 or more catches in three games.
· Registered his NFL-record seventh game this season with at least 10 catches and his eighth 100-yard game. His 1,575 yards this season are the most for a receiver since 2003.
RB, Cleveland Browns
· Surpassed 10,000 rushing yards for his career, becoming the 24th player in NFL history to do so.
WR, Baltimore Ravens
· Went over 10,000 receiving yards for his career.
QB, Indianapolis Colts
· Extended his NFL record with his ninth 4,000-yard passing season.
· Became the first player in history to throw 25 touchdown passes in 11 consecutive seasons.
· Tied for sixth with JOE MONTANA with 117 career wins.
· Moved into sixth on the career completions list with 3,839.
· Passed Drew Bledsoe for seventh place on the NFL's career list for yards passing. Manning has 45,628; Bledsoe had 44,611.
WR, New England Patriots
· Notched his 135th career touchdown reception, passing Cris Carter for third all-time.
· Tied MARSHALL FAULK for sixth in NFL history with his 136th touchdown.
· Upped his career total to 13,201 receiving yards, moving into ninth place in the NFL, three yards ahead of Andre Reed.
· Joined Jerry Rice (14), Tim Brown (9) and Jimmy Smith as the only players in history with nine 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
· Tied Marvin Harrison for second in history with his 59th career 100-yard game.
WR, Washington Redskins
· Notched his third career 1,000-yard receiving season.
WR, Dallas Cowboys
· Surpassed Cris Carter (130) for second place all-time in receiving touchdowns (139).
· Became the eighth player to reach 900 receptions and in the third fewest games (178).
· Surpassed Art Monk for sixth all-time in career receptions (951).
RB, Minnesota Vikings
· Topped 2,000 career rushing yards, becoming the fastest player to reach the milestone in NFL history (21 games).
· Became the fifth player in league history to reach 3,000 rushing yards in his first two years, joining Earl Campbell (Oilers), Eric Dickerson (Rams), Edgerrin James (Colts) and Clinton Portis (Broncos).
RB, Washington Redskins
· Joined O.J. Simpson as the only players with 120 yards rushing in five consecutive games on two different occasions.
S, Baltimore Ravens
· Returned an interception an NFL-record 108 yards for a touchdown vs. Philadelphia (11/23).
QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
· Surpassed Otto Graham, Dan Marino and Tom Brady for the most victories in a quarterback’s first five seasons with 61 wins.
K, Baltimore Ravens
· Set an NFL record, kicking his 372nd consecutive point after touchdown.
· Passed Bruce Smith for 11th all-time after playing in his 280th game.
· Passed Jim Bakken in 13th place with 536 PATs.
· Went over 100 points for the 12th season in a row.
RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
· Passed O.J. Simpson and Corey Dillon to move into 16th place on the NFL's career rushing yards list (11,271).
LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON
RB, San Diego Chargers
· With 126 rushing touchdowns, moved out of a tie with Marcus Allen and into sole possession of second place on the NFL's career list. Emmitt Smith is No. 1 with 164.
· Extended his NFL record of consecutive seasons to begin a career with 10 rushing touchdowns to eight.
· Became the fifth player to rush for more than 10,000 yards and have 500 receptions.
· Passed O.J. Simpson and Corey Dillon for 15th place on the career rushing list at 11,279 yards.
· Became the 17th player to rush for more than 11,000 career yards.
WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
· Notched his fifth career 1,000 receiving-yards season.
DE MARCUS WARE
LB, Dallas Cowboys
· Tied an NFL record with a sack in 10 consecutive games, matching the mark set by Denver's Simon Fletcher from Nov. 15, 1992 to Sept. 20, 1993
QB, Arizona Cardinals
· Had a perfect 158.3 passer rating for the third time in his career, tying Peyton Manning for the NFL record.
· Topped 300 yards for five consecutive games, one shy of the NFL record he shares with Steve Young and Rich Gannon.
WR, New England Patriots
· Set an NFL record with at least six catches in each of the first 10 games of the season.
· Broke the franchise record for points in a season with 424, one more than in 1984.
· KURT WARNER threw a touchdown pass in 21 consecutive games, a Cardinals’ record. Warner set a club record with four consecutive 300-yard games. He also passed for a franchise-record 30 touchdowns this season.
· ANQUAN BOLDIN, STEVE BREASTON and Larry Fitzgerald notched 1,000-yard receiving seasons, marking the fifth time in NFL history that three teammates each passed the 1,000-yard mark.
· ANQUAN BOLDIN set a franchise record with his 22nd 100-yard receiving game. He also topped 1,000 yards receiving in a season for a club-record fourth time.
· TIM HIGHTOWER's 10 TDs rushing set a franchise record, breaking the mark of nine set by Ron Moore in 1993.
· NEIL RACKERS became the second player in Cardinals history to score 500 points (Jim Bakken; 1,380).
· MICHAEL TURNER scored his club-record 17th rushing touchdown, breaking JAMAL ANDERSON’s franchise record of 14 in 1998.
· RODDY WHITE set the team season record for receiving yards (1,382), breaking Alfred Jenkins' mark (1,358) in 1981.
· Have gone an NFL-best 35 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.
· Notched their 100th franchise win.
· Scored at least 27 points in a team-record four consecutive games. (Week 10)
· ED REED registered his NFL-high ninth interception, tying his own team record.
· Won their 200th home game. (Week 7)
· LEODIS MC KELVIN surpassed Eric Moulds for the most kickoff return yards by a Buffalo rookie (1,468).
· BRIAN MOORMAN became the first Bills punter to throw a touchdown pass.
· Reached 100 regular-season victories.
· Had two running backs with 100 yards in the same game for the first time in team history (JONATHAN STEWART and DE ANGELO WILLIAMS on 11/16.
· JONATHAN STEWART's 836 yards rushing set a season rookie mark for the Panthers.
· DE ANGELO WILLIAMS ended the season with a franchise-record 1,515 rushing yards. Williams scored a Panthers' season record 20 touchdowns. He also set a club record by scoring a touchdown in five consecutive games.
· Became the first team in NFL history with 700 total victories.
· KYLE ORTON threw a franchise-record 206 consecutive passes without an interception.
· MAT FORTÉ rushed for 1,238 yards and caught 63 passes – both Bears rookie season records.
· CHAD JOHNSON has at least one catch in 93 consecutive games, tying the team record set by Carl Pickens.
· JAMAL LEWIS became the first Browns running back since Mike Pruitt in 1980-81 to gain 1,000 yards in successive seasons.
· Achieved 450 total victories (Week 5).
· TONY ROMO became the sixth Cowboys quarterback to surpass 10,000 career yards. Romo had his 16th career 300-yard passing game, surpassing Troy Aikman for the most in club history. He also became the first Cowboys QB with consecutive 3,000-yard seasons since Aikman did it in three consecutive years from 1995-97.
· Tallied their 400th victory.
· JAY CUTLER tied John Elway (1987) for the fewest games (11) in team history to reach 3,000 passing yards (11/23). Cutler broke Jake Plummer's franchise record with 4,210 yards for the season.
· Rookie SPENCER LARSEN became the first player in club history to start on offense and defense (11/16). Larsen lined up at fullback and middle linebacker and also contributed on special teams.
· EDDIE ROYAL set Broncos rookie records with five touchdown receptions and yards receiving for a single season (980).
· CALVIN JOHNSON became the second receiver in team history to record 70 receptions; 1,200 yards; and 10 touchdowns in a single season (HERMAN MOORE in 1995).
· JASON HANSON surpassed MortEn AndersEn's record for most career 50-yard field goals, hitting his 41st on 12/14.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
· DONALD DRIVER established a franchise record with a reception in his 104th consecutive game (11/9), besting the mark set by Sterling Sharpe from 1988-94.
· DRIVER and GREG JENNINGS each had 100 receiving yards in Week 17. Combined with Ryan Grant and De shawn Wynn's 100-yard rushing days, it was the first time in league history that a team has had two 100-yard rushers and 100-yard receivers in the same game.
· Scored touchdowns on their first three possessions for the first time in team history. (Week 7)
· Won four consecutive games in a season for the first time in franchise history.
· ANDRE JOHNSON extended his franchise record by having at least one catch in his 100th consecutive game.
· DUNTA ROBINSON set a Texans record with his 12th career interception.
· STEVE SLATON set the franchise record for yards rushing by a rookie with 1,282 and scored a team rookie-record nine rushing touchdowns.
· Extended their NFL-record club streak to six seasons in a row with 12 or more wins.
· DALLAS CLARK broke his club season record for receptions by a tight end with 77. Clark also broke the Colts' franchise record for season receiving yards by a tight end with 848, surpassing Hall of Famer John Mackey's 829 in 1966.
· Head coach TONY DUNGY's teams have gone to the playoffs in 10 consecutive seasons, dating back to 1999 when he was the head coach at Tampa Bay. It is the best run by a coach in NFL history, topping Tom Landry's run with the Cowboys from 1975-83 (9 seasons).
· Jaguars coach JACK DEL RIO posted his 50th regular-season victory.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
· LARRY JOHNSON (5.638) passed Christian Okoye (4,897) for second place on the Chiefs' all-time rushing list.
· With an 11-5 record after a 1-15 mark in 2007, tied the 1999 Colts (13-3 after 3-13 the previous season) for the biggest turnaround in NFL history – 10 wins.
· Finished the regular season with 13 turnovers, tying the 2008 New York Giants for the fewest ever in a 16-game season.
· CHAD PENNINGTON connected on his first six passes in Week 15, extending his two-game streak to 17 completions in a row to break Dan Marino's team record of 15 set in 1992.
· ADRIAN PETERSON rushed for a franchise-record 10 100-yard games. Peterson broke Minnesota's single-season rushing record with 1,760 yards.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
· Finished the regular season with 57 penalties, besting the record-low of 59 set by Seattle in 2007.
· STEPHEN GOSTKOWSKI set a Patriots single-season record with 34 field goals, breaking the mark of 32 set by Tony Franklin in 1986.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
· Set franchise records for scoring (461) and yards (6,571).
· DEUCE MC ALLISTER surpassed Dalton Hilliard for first on New Orleans' career list with 54 touchdowns.
NEW YORK GIANTS
· DERRICK WARD and BRANDON JACOBS both rushed for 1,000 yards, making the Giants only the fourth team with two 1,000-yard running backs.
· Ended the season with 13 turnovers, tying the 2008 Miami Dolphins for the fewest ever in a 16-game season.
· Finished the season with 427 points and 338 first downs, both second highest in team history (448 points in 1963; 356 first downs in 1985).
NEW YORK JETS
· THOMAS JONES broke the team’s season rushing and total touchdowns record (13 rushing, 2 receiving) previously held by CURTIS MARTIN.
· SEBASTIAN JANIKOWSKI (905) broke George Blanda's franchise record of 863 career-points.
· Achieved 500 regular-season victories. Scored a franchise-record 416 points.
· ANDY REID won his 100th career game.
· REID and DONOVAN MC NABB earned their 76th career victory together, passing the Joe Montana-Bill Walsh combo for most all-time. (Week 7)
· MC NABB set a franchise record when he passed Ron Jaworski on the club's all-time passing yards list, finishing with 3,916.
· BRIAN WESTBROOK passed Timmy Brown for first place on the club's career list with 27 TD catches by a running back. Westbrook (9,330) surpassed Harold Carmichael (9,042) as the Eagles career leader in yards.
· BRIAN DAWKINS made his 34th interception, tying the team record shared by Eric Allen and Bill Bradley.
· DE SEAN JACKSON set a team rookie record with 912 receiving yards and also became the first rookie to lead the Eagles in catches (62) since 1942.
· DAVID AKERS kicked 33 field goals, setting a season team record.
· MIKE TOMLIN became the first coach in Steelers history to win at least 10 games in each of his first two seasons. He became the sixth NFL coach to win a division title in his first two seasons as a head coach.
· JAMES HARRISON's 16th sack surpassed Mike Merriweather's 1984 single-season Steelers record. Harrison and LA MARR WOODLEY set a club record (27.5) for most combined sacks by two players.
· HINES WARD set a team record with his 800 career receptions.
ST. LOUIS RAMS
· STEVEN JACKSON became the first Rams running back since Eric Dickerson (1983-86) to rush for 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.
· DONNIE JONES established the highest gross punting average in team history – 50.0 yards. It ranks second in NFL history to SAMMY BAUGH’s 51.4 gross average in 1940.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
· Became the first team to make the NFL playoffs following a 4-8 start.
· PHILIP RIVERS threw 34 touchdown passes to break Hall of Famer Dan Fouts' 1981 season team record. Rivers finished the season with 4,009 passing yards, joining Fouts as the only Chargers QBs with 4,000 in a season.
· Notched their 250 regular-season victory.
· Head coach MIKE HOLMGREN earned his 160th career victory, most among active coaches.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
· Achieved 200 total victories.
· Started 5-0 at home this season for the first time in franchise history.
· Set team for most total yards in a season with 5,456.
· Tied team record with seven return touchdowns (2000).
· Set a club record with 12 wins in a row.
· CHRIS JOHNSON joined Earl Campbell and Eddie George as the only rookies in franchise history to rush for 1,000 yards.
· LEN DALE WHITE scored 15 touchdowns for second place in team season annals behind EARL CAMPBELL (19, 1979).
· Compiled a streak of 370 consecutive pass attempts without an interception.
· JASON CAMPBELL’s interception percentage of 1.2 was a team record.
· CLINTON PORTIS tied club record with five consecutive 100-yard rushing games.
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