Records to watch in final NFL week

By Jeff Linville -

With Carolina eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in four years, what is a Panther fan to do this weekend?

How about keeping up with how many records fall on the last weekend?

The media departments of NFL teams have been keeping reporters abreast of any potential records that could be broken, and there is a long, long list this time out.

There are several impressive records, but I’m going to go with one of the most underappreciated players in NFL history.

RB Frank Gore needs just 36 rushing yards to become the first Colts player to post a 1,000-yard season since Joseph Addai in 2007 (1,072). When he does so, Gore will reach the milestone for the ninth time in his career.

Gore came up just 33 yards shy last year, so you can bet his teammates are eager to help him. If Gore had gotten that extra 33 yards last year, then we would be talking about the RB having 10 years of 1,000 yards – a feat accomplished by only Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin.

When he gets to 1,000, Gore will become the oldest running back (33) to reach that mark in three decades. The oldest running back to get 1,000 was John Henry Johnson of the Steelers: age 35 in 1964.

Gore is now eighth all-time in rushing yards with 13,003; that’s more than 16 Hall of Famers. If he comes back next season and gets another 600 yards, Gore would pass LaDainian Tomlinson, Jerome Bettis and Eric Dickerson.

• Antonio Gates is one TD catch shy of tying Tony Gonzalez for the most by a tight end at 111. Gates is third in receiving yardage behind Gonzalez and Jason Witten.

Speaking of Witten, the Dallas TE is just 26 yards shy of WR Michael Irvin for the team record in receiving yards. Witten has 11,878 right now.

• Larry Fitzgerald needs just 20 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. This will be the fourth time in his career he has had 100 catches and 1,000 yards in a season.

The oft-maligned Brandon Marshall holds the record with six such seasons over a career playing for four teams and numerous quarterbacks.

Fitzgerald is ninth all-time in receiving yards with 14,346. He leads all active receivers in catches (1,120) with former teammate Anquan Boldin in third at 1,072.

• Drew Brees is the only QB in history with more than one 5,000-yard seasons. With just 142 yards this weekend, Brees will reach that plateau for the fifth time.

In just these five seasons, Brees has amassed 25,700 yards. That would be good enough for 13th place among active passers by themselves. In all, Brees has 65,761 yards – first among active players and just 6,200 yards from the all-time mark.

Brees is third all-time in yardage, pass attempts and completions (to Peyton Manning and Brett Favre), but he’s only 20th in career interceptions, which says something for his decision-making compared to those two. Even more impressive, Tom Brady is fifth in attempts and yardage, but 57th in interceptions (a career 3-to-1 ratio).

• Kirk Cousins already has broken his own team record for passing yards in a season. With another 370 yards in the last game, he would be the first Redskin with 5,000 yards.

• Matt Ryan is right there with him, needing 387 yards to reach 5,000. He is only 107 yards from the Falcons’ team record that he set in 2012.

Too bad he’s not playing the Panthers again. In two games this season, Ryan averaged 390 yards against Carolina.

• Jameis Winston of the Buccaneers needs 267 passing yards to surpass Andrew Luck (8,196) for the most by a player in his first two NFL seasons. With 112 passing yards, Winston will become the first player to throw for 4,000 yards in each of his first two seasons.

• Speaking of young QBs, Dak Prescott has 23 TDs, three shy of Peyton Manning’s 26 as a rookie in 1998.

• Fellow QB Carson Wentz is closing in on a record for rookies. He has 352 completions, two shy of Sam Bradford’s mark set in 2010.

• Prescott’s teammate Ezekiel Elliott has 1,631 rushing yards, the third most by a rookie. He needs 178 yards to break Eric Dickerson’s rookie rushing record of 1,808, set in 1983. However, Elliott’s single-game high is 159 yards rushing.

By Jeff Linville

Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.

Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.