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Strongside Blitz

By Joe Platania
PressBox StaffWith pass-happy attacks ruling the day in the NFL's current era, it's a wonder no one has approached what is widely accepted as one of football's most attainable records, seven touchdown passes in a single game. After all, we watched Steve Young throw six in Super Bowl XXIX.

But the seven-TD feat has been accomplished only five times in NFL history, and not at all since September 28, 1969 when Minnesota's Joe Kapp did it against the Baltimore Colts.

In the salary-cap era, teams want players that are younger and cheaper.

That manifested itself when a record 750 starts were recorded by rookies in 2005, up sharply from 719 two years ago. It explains two things.

It clears up why players picked in a seven-round draft are often kept stubbornly by teams that spend more on them than on undrafted free agents. It also helps justify cutting loose high-priced veterans who eat up cap room on the bench without eating up space on the field.

Let's say it once and for all: the overtime coin flip does not decide an NFL game.

This year will mark the 33rd season of the extra period in the league. In that time, some eye-opening stats have been recorded:

- 71.4 percent of OT games have featured both teams having one possession.
- 28.6 percent of the games have ended with the coin toss winner immediately driving for a score.
- 52.9 percent have eventually been won by the coin toss winner.
- 4.4 percent, or, just 16 games, have ended in ties (no scoring in the 15-minute period).

"Flex" scheduling is something most fans have been clamoring for quite some time, and it will finally come to fruition this year.

The Sunday afternoon games in Weeks 10 through 15 and Week 17 this year will be under consideration to be moved to the Sunday night NBC national television time slot. The change does not apply to ESPN's Monday night games or any Thursday or Saturday games.

Because Week 16 is Christmas Eve and because the Ravens play a Thursday night game in Cincinnati on Nov. 30 on the NFL Network, that means two Ravens games are not part of the flex plan. These include the Cincinnati game and the Dec. 24 game at Pittsburgh.
With those two exceptions, each game from the Nov. 12 game at Tennessee through the end of the season could be moved to Sunday night if the NFL deems it necessary. Teams will be advised -- and in turn, season ticket holders and all other fans as well -- a full 12 days in advance of any changes so that the appropriate parties can plan accordingly.
Also, the league will tell teams, which will then inform the public, of any instances in which a certain game is not under consideration to be moved.

With free agency around for 13 years, this stat was inevitable. In the free agency/salary cap era, Green Bay has posted the best winning percentage with .630 (131-77).
Not far behind is Pittsburgh (130-77-1, .627), followed in order by Denver, Kansas City, New England, Miami, Minnesota, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Indianapolis.

Want any further proof that running the ball wins games instead of passing it?
League statistics over the last five years show that teams that have a 100-yard rusher in a game have won an average of 75 percent of the time. Teams with a 100-yard receiver have only come out on top in 54 percent of the time and teams with a 300-yard passer are just below the break-even mark.

A series of stats released by the league show how close the AFC/NFC rivalry is in many respects, even 36 years after the merger.

The AFC has scored more points in AFC/NFC games, but only by a margin of 955 out of 74,000 points scored. Yet, it's the NFC that has more Super Bowl wins, 22-18. There have been more NFC players winning individual passing titles (19-17), but AFC standouts have more rushing championships (20-16).

The AFC does have a lopsided edge in winning season series in interconference play, 21-8 with seven ties. The AFC hasn't lost that stat since 1995 and it's partially due to the fact that it has won 952 interconference games to the NFC's 866.

Which two teams have the most total wins -- regular and postseason -- in league history?
That would be the two teams that have been around the longest, the Chicago Bears (671) and Green Bay Packers (640). But a few teams are approaching some milestones in 2006.
If the New York Giants win 12 games, they will become the third team ever to register 600 regular-season wins. Chicago has 657 and Green Bay has 616.

Pittsburgh needs 10 victories to get 500 regular-season wins. However, due to their rather pitiful history between 1933 and 1972, the Steelers' all-time record is a middling 490-470-20.

The Rams need 10 wins to get 500 regular-season victories and several teams are close to 400. Oakland needs six to get there, Dallas needs eight and the Indianapolis Colts need 10.

Issue 1.18: Aug. 24, 2006