Beckham’s breakthrough

Odell Beckham Jr. caught 12 passes for 185 yards in the Giants’ 34–26 loss to the Eagles on Sunday. That completed a nearly unprecedented month of December during which Beckham caught 43 passes for 606 yards. Only two other players in NFL history gained at least 600 receiving yards in December of one season: Calvin Johnson in 2012 (707) and Josh Gordon in 2013 (658).

Beckham also set an NFL record for receiving yards by a rookie in any calendar month, December or otherwise. The previous mark was 596 yards by Bill Groman of the Houston Oilers and it had stood since November 1960. Amazingly, after Groman’s record had stood for 54 years, Beckham fell 3 yards short in November and then broke it in December.

Only two other players in NFL history posted back-to-back months of 500 or more receiving yards, and both were veterans with multiple Pro Bowls on their résumés: Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson (both in 2012).

But that’s not all. A few more bullet points to serve as exclamation points to Beckham’s season:

  • Beckman led all players in receiving yards in each of his last six games, the longest streak ever by an NFL rookie. The previous record was four straight games by John Jefferson of the Chargers in 1978.
  • Beckham had the highest receiving-yards total on both Week 15 and Week 16. The only other rookie in NFL history to do so on consecutive weeks was Don Looney of the Eagles, who had a streak of three weeks in September 1940. Beckham ranked second in receiving yards on Week 17 with a season-high total of 185; Eric Decker caught 10 passes for 221 yards.
  • During November, Beckham set Giants records for pass receptions and receiving yards in one calendar month, and he broke both of those marks in December.



Donovan & Keane: Almost Unprecedented as Teammates

Enjoy it while you can. Landon Donovan has announced that he will retire after next Sunday’s MLS Cup Final between Los Angeles and New England.  And we may not see another pairing like Donovan and Galaxy striker Robbie Keane for decades.

Donovan and Keane are only the second pair of teammates—at any time, for any team, in any league in the world—to have scored at least 50 goals each for their respective countries. Keane has scored 65 goals for Ireland, Donovan has scored 57 for the U.S.  The first such teammates were Ferenc Puskás and Sándor Kocsis with Budapest Honvéd FC (1950–56). Puskás scored 84 goals for Hungary (#50 in 1952); Kocsis scored 75 (#50 in 1954).

When Didier Drogba rejoined Chelsea this summer, it appeared there would be a third club-pairing of international 50-goal scorers. But one month later, just before the start of the Premier League season, Samuel Eto’o was loaned to Everton.


Bobcats handle Big 3 as a unit, but Miami sweeps series as LeBron James dominates

The Heat became the first NBA team to advance to the conference semifinals, finishing off a four-game sweep of the Bobcats with a 109–98 victory in Charlotte. It was Miami’s ninth consecutive playoff series won, and its 12th victory in 13 playoff series in the Big Three era. Since the 2003 playoffs, when the NBA adopted the best-of-seven format for every playoff round, just one other team has won 12 series within a 13-series span (the Lakers, from 2008 to 2011).

Remarkably, in the four games against Charlotte, Miami was actually outscored, 191 to 179, during the 91 minutes, 40 seconds for which LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh were on the court together. But during the 46 minutes, 45 seconds for which LeBron was on the court but Wade and Bosh were on the bench, the Heat outscored the Bobcats, 108 to 83.

On Monday night, James led all scorers for the fourth game in a row: 27 points in Game 1, 32 in Game 2, 30 in Game 3, and 31 in Game 4. It marked the third time in his NBA career that James was the outright scoring leader—that is, no teammate or opponent even tied with him—in all four games of a best-of-seven playoff series swept by his team.  He had previously done that twice in 2009, while with the Cavaliers, in sweeps of the Pistons and the Hawks. So LeBron has done that three times; all other players in NBA history, combined, have done it exactly twice! Hakeem Olajuwon did it in the 1995 Finals against the Magic, and Dirk Nowitzki did it in a first-round series versus Memphis in 2006.

Dirk bounces The Big O from all-time NBA Top 10 in scoring

Dirk Nowitzki led all players with 21 points in the Mavericks’ victory at Utah last night. That boosted Nowitzki’s career total to 26,714 points, as he moved past Oscar Robertson into 10th place in NBA scoring—a significant moment for NBA historians.

Today marks the first time in more than 48 years that Robertson doesn’t rank among the league’s 10 highest scorers. It took the Big O just 418 NBA games to crack the top 10, which he did with a 40-point effort for the Royals at Cincinnati Gardens on December 29, 1965.

Robertson surpassed Bill Sharman’s career point total to gain the 10th spot at a time when Wilt Chamberlain was approaching the all-time NBA scoring record. Chamberlain would move past Bob Pettit seven weeks later. Wilt and Oscar ranked first and second, respectively, when the Big O retired following the 1973–74 season.

Henrik Stenson wins the Deutsche Bank Championship

Henrik Stenson slammed the door on his victory at this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship by holing out from the bunker for birdie on the 17th hole, his 71st hole of play for the week.  The bunker was the only one Stenson found himself in all week.  Since 1992, only three other champions have found themselves in their only bunker for the tournament on the back nine of the final round and recorded a sandsave.  But none have come as late in the round as Stenson’s was today.  The closest to Stenson today; during his victory at the 1996 Bay Hill Invitational, Paul Goydos recorded his sandsave on the 15th hole of the final round.

During this week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, Henrik Stenson birdied TPC Boston’s par-4 fourth hole in every round.  It’s the third time in Stenson’s PGA TOUR career that he has birdied a par-4 hole in each round of a TOUR event.  This week’s effort joins the eighth hole at the PGA Championship earlier this year the eighteenth hole at the 2005 British Open.

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