Scoring at an all-time high … new teams making the playoffs and winning divisions … consistent teams excelling once again … records falling … young players making their mark … and so much more!
The 2013 season really did have it all, including a fantastic finish.
Week 17, the last week of the NFL 2013 Regular Season, came right down to the wire as 13 of the 16 games scheduled for the final day of the regular season had playoff implications. Sunday's excitement was due in part to having 16 divisional games played on the season's final day, a tradition instituted in 2010.
Each of the 12 teams in the playoffs and in Super Bowl XLVIII contention can look back at the wild ride that was the 2013 regular season and appreciate how challenging the road to the playoffs was.
Since the 12-team playoff format was adopted in 1990, at least four teams have qualified for the playoffs that were not in the postseason the year before. Five teams -- Carolina, Kansas City, New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Diego -- accomplished the feat this year.
"It's great to be in the playoffs," says Kansas City's Andy Reid, who became the 21st NFL head coach to reach 150 career wins (151). "We also understand that's not where it stops. We've got to finish this season the right way."
For the second consecutive year, a team that won two games the previous season rebounded to win 11 games.
The Kansas City Chiefs (11-5) tied the 2008 Miami Dolphins and 2012 Indianapolis Colts for the most wins by a team that won two or fewer games the previous season.
The NFL 2013 regulare season also proved that consistency is difficult, but not impossible, to maintain in the NFL. The Patriots became the second team in NFL history to win at least 10 games in 11 consecutive seasons, joining the 1983-98 San Francisco 49ers (16 consecutive seasons) as the only teams to accomplish the feat. BILL BELICHICK (217 wins) also surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer CHUCK NOLL (209) for fifth place on the all-time wins list among head coaches (including postseason).
Two of the winningest quarterbacks in NFL history -- PEYTON MANNING of Denver (13-3) and TOM BRADY of New England (12-4) -- led their teams to the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the AFC. Brady became the first starting QB in NFL history to win 11 division championships. Manning captured his 10th division title, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer JOE MONTANA for second place all-time.
And two of the NFL's most significant single-season records fell in 2013.
Peyton Manning set the NFL's single-season passing-yard record with 5,477 yards, surpassing Drew Brees' mark of 5,476 yards in 2011, and finished the regular season with 55 touchdown passes, also the most in a season in NFL history.
Manning is the first player to set both the single-season passing yardage and touchdown records in the same season since Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino in 1984.
The NFL is never short on surprises, and that leads to the excitement we witnessed in 2013:
A record 11,985 points were scored during the 2013 season, with games averaging 46.8 points, the highest average in NFL history (46.5 in 1948). In all, 1,338 total touchdowns were scored, surpassing the league-wide record of 1,297, which occurred last season.
Eleven teams scored at least 400 points this season -- Denver (606), Chicago (445), New England (444), Philadelphia (442), Dallas (439), Cincinnati (430), Kansas City (430), Green Bay (417), Seattle (417), New Orleans (414) and San Francisco (406) -- topping the previous record of nine in 2008 and 2012. Those 11 teams combined for a .668 winning percentage, and nine qualified for the playoffs.
The Broncos' 606 points surpassed the 2007 New England Patriots (589) for the most in NFL history. Denver (37.9 points per game) also had the second-highest scoring average of any NFL team, trailing only the 1950 Los Angeles Rams (38.8).
Denver became the first team in NFL history to have five players score at least 10 touchdowns in the same season. The five Broncos with at least 10 touchdowns this season were DEMARYIUS THOMAS (14), KNOWSHON MORENO (13), JULIUS THOMAS (12), ERIC DECKER (11) and WES WELKER (10).
No other NFL team has had more than three different players score at least 10 touchdowns in a season in NFL history.
The Carolina Panthers (NFC South) and Philadelphia Eagles (NFC East) rebounded to win their respective divisions after finishing in last place or tied for last in 2012. This marked the NFL-record 11th consecutive season that at least one team went from "worst-to-first" in its division.
Nine teams won 11+ games -- Denver (13-3), Seattle (13-3), Carolina (12-4), New England (12-4), San Francisco (12-4), Cincinnati (11-5), Indianapolis (11-5), Kansas City (11-5) and New Orleans (11-5) -- tied for the second-most in a season in NFL history (10 in 2005).
Games continued to be close, as 68 percent were within one score in the fourth quarter.
In 2013, 123 of 256 games (48.0 percent) were decided by seven points or fewer, the fourth-most of any season in NFL history.
Games Decided By One Score
|8 or Fewer||131 of 256||51.2%|
|7 or Fewer||123 of 256||48.0%|
|3 or Fewer||65 of 256||25.4%|
Games Within One Score at Any Point in 4th Quarter
|8 or Fewer||174 of 256||68.0%|
|7 or Fewer||168 of 256||65.6%|
|3 or Fewer||127 of 256||49.6%|
2012 was considered by many to be the Year of the Quarterback, but NFL QBs put together a historically proficient and prolific year in 2013.
The league-wide passer rating (86.0) and leaguewide touchdown pass totals (804) were at historic level, topping the previous records set in 2012 (85.6 passer rating; 757 TD passes).
Games averaged an all-time high 697.0 total net yards per game, surpassing last year's record (694.4). Explosive passing offenses fueled that trend, with an average of 471.2 net passing yards per game, also an all-time high (462.6 in 2012).
There were 24 individual 400-yard passing games in 2013, the most of any season in NFL history (18 in 2011).
An NFL-record seven qualifying players had a passer rating of 100.0 or better -- NICK FOLES (119.2) of Philadelphia, Peyton Manning (115.1), JOSH MC COWN of Chicago (109.0), PHILIP RIVERS (105.5) of San Diego, AARON RODGERS (104.9) of Green Bay, Drew Brees (104.7) and RUSSELL WILSON (101.2) of Seattle -- surpassing the previous high of five in 2009.
Five quarterbacks had 30+ passing touchdowns -- Peyton Manning (55), Drew Brees (39), ANDY DALTON (33), Philip Rivers (32) and TONY ROMO (31) -- equaling the previous record (2010, 2011 and 2012).
Peyton Manning (64,964) surpassed Dan Marino (61,361) for the second-most passing yards in NFL history. Manning (491 TD passes, 5,532 completions) now trails only BRETT FAVRE (508 TDs; 6,300 completions; 71,838 yards) in those three major career passing categories.
Manning finished the season as the NFL TD pass leader, tying Brees, Favre and Pro Football Hall of Famers LEN DAWSON, JOHNNY UNITAS and STEVE YOUNG for the most seasons leading the league in touchdown passes (four).
Drew Brees and Tom Brady both climbed higher on the all-time lists for career passing touchdowns and yards. Brees now ranks fourth in TD passes (363) and fifth in yards (51,081). Brady is now fifth in passing TDs (359) and seventh in yardage (49,149).
Brees became the first quarterback in NFL history with three consecutive 5,000-yard seasons and four career 5,000-yard seasons. Brees is the first ever to pass for 20,000 yards in a four-year span (20,435).
Brees has passed for at least 30 touchdowns in six consecutive seasons, surpassing Favre (five) for the longest such streak in NFL history.
Philadelphia's NICK FOLES led the NFL in passer rating in 2013 (119.2), the third-highest single-season mark of any player in NFL history.
Foles threw 19 touchdown passes in 2013 before his first interception, the second-longest such streak to begin a season in NFL history. Peyton Manning began this season with 20 touchdown passes before throwing his first INT.
Russell Wilson now has 24 career wins, surpassing Ben Roethlisberger (22) for the most by a quarterback in his first two NFL seasons in the Super Bowl era. Indianapolis quarterback ANDREW LUCK, who finished with 22 wins in his first two seasons, also tied Roethlisberger.
Wilson (52) also joined Dan Marino (68) and Peyton Manning (52) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history to pass for at least 50 touchdowns in their first two seasons.
Luck (8,196) became the first player in NFL history with 8,000 passing yards in his first two seasons, topping CAM NEWTON's previous record (7,920).
Rushing & Receiving
Several running backs enjoyed historic seasons in 2013. Minnesota's ADRIAN PETERSON (seven) joined Pro Football Hall of Famer EMMITT SMITH (eight) and LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON (nine) as the only players in NFL history to rush for 10 touchdowns in at least seven different seasons.
Peterson now has five career 200-yard rushing games, tying TIKI BARBER for the second-most in NFL history (Pro Football Hall of Famer O.J. SIMPSON, (six).
He also became the third-fastest player in NFL history to reach 10,000 rushing yards (101 career games), trailing Pro Football Hall of Famers ERIC DICKERSON (91) and JIM BROWN (98).
Philadelphia's LE SEAN MC COY (1,607 rushing yards) became the first Eagle to lead the league in rushing since Pro Football Hall of Famer STEVE VAN BUREN in 1949.
Kansas City running back JAMAAL CHARLES became the second player in NFL history to post 100+ scrimmage yards and a touchdown in each of his first seven games to begin a season (O.J. Simpson in 1975).
In Week 15, Charles became the first player in NFL history with at least four touchdown receptions and one touchdown run in a single game. His five total touchdowns tied for the fourth-most in a game in league history and just one shy of the record.
Five players registered at least 100 receptions in 2013 -- Washington's PIERRE GARÇON (113), Pittsburgh's ANTONIO BROWN (110), Houston's ANDRE JOHNSON (109), New England's JULIAN EDELMAN (105) and Chicago's BRANDON MARSHALL (100).
Andre Johnson and Marshall joined WES WELKER as the only players in NFL history with five career 100-catch seasons.
Detroit's CALVIN JOHNSON is the first player in NFL history with at least 5,000 receiving yards in a three-season span (5,137).
In Week 8, Johnson had 329 receiving yards, which ranks second only to FLIPPER ANDERSON's single-game NFL record of 336 yards. Johnson now has five career 200-yard games, tied with Pro Football Hall of Famer LANCE ALWORTH for the most in NFL history.
Cleveland wide receiver JOSH GORDON finished the season with 1,646 receiving yards and became the first player in franchise history to lead the NFL in receiving yards in a season.
In Weeks 12 and 13, Gordon became the first player in NFL history to have 200 receiving yards in consecutive games.
It was also a banner year for tight ends. NFL tight ends broke the single-season record for receiving yards (27,287) and TD receptions (236) for the position, surpassing the previous record totals from 2011 (27,080 yards and 198 TDs).
JIMMY GRAHAM of New Orleans led all NFL players with 16 touchdown catches in 2013, which is the second-most ever by a tight end in a season (ROB GRONKOWSKI, 17 in 2011).
Graham is the third tight end to lead all NFL players in TD catches in a season, joining Gronkowski in 2011 and VERNON DAVIS, who tied for the league lead in 2009.
Atlanta's TONY GONZALEZ became the fifth player -- and first tight end -- in NFL history to reach 15,000 career receiving yards (15,127).
Gonzalez now has 1,325 career receptions for 15,127 yards and 111 touchdowns. He and Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE are the only two players in NFL history with at least 1,100 receptions, 15,000 receiving yards and 100 touchdown catches.
Including the postseason, Chicago's DEVIN HESTER now has 20 return touchdowns in his career. This season, he surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer DEION SANDERS (19) for the most in NFL history.
Minnesota rookie CORDARRELLE PATTERSON became the first player in NFL history with four receiving touchdowns, three rushing touchdowns and two kickoff-return touchdowns in the same season.
Patterson also became the first player in NFL history with a 100-yard kickoff-return touchdown (109 and 105), 75-yard receiving touchdown (79) and 50-yard rushing touchdown (50) in a season.
An NFL-record 863 field goals were made in 2013, and NFL kickers converted 86.5 percent of their FG attempts. Those marks surpassed previous records set last season (852 FGs) and in 2008 (84.5 percent).
The 2013 season also marked all-time highs in 50+ yard field-goal percentage (67.1) and 50+ yard FGs made (96), surpassing records set in 2011 (64.3 percent) and 2012 (92 50-yard FGs made).
Denver's MATT PRATER converted an NFL-record 64-yard field-goal in Week 14.
ADAM VINATIERI (2,006) of the Colts surpassed JOHN KASAY (1,970), JASON ELAM (1,983), Pro Football Hall of Famer GEORGE BLANDA (2,002) and MATT STOVER (2,004) for fifth place on the all-time scoring list.
With all that offense, defenses were heard from as well. There were 65 interception-return TDs this season, the second most in of any season in history (71 in 2012).
The top five NFL teams in total defense all qualified for the 2013 postseason and won at least 11 games each -- Seattle (273.6), Carolina (301.3), Cincinnati (305.5), New Orleans (305.7) and San Francisco (316.9). Those five clubs had a combined win percentage of .738.
The SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (14.4 points per game) led the NFL in fewest points allowed for the second consecutive season -- the first time in club history they have done so in back-to-back years.
ROBERT MATHIS (19.5 sacks) of Indianapolis became the second player in club history to lead the NFL in sacks in a season, joining DWIGHT FREENEY (16 in 2004).
SEAN LEE of Dallas led all players with 174 interception-return yards in 2013. Lee's total is the third-highest of any linebacker in a single season during the Super Bowl era (since 1966), trailing only DERRICK BROOKS (218 in 2002) and DERRICK JOHNSON (175 in 2009).
ED REED (64 interceptions) surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famers RONNIE LOTT (63) and DICK LE BEAU (62) and DARREN SHARPER (63) and DAVE BROWN (62) for sixth place on the all-time interceptions list.
Reed, who posted three INTs with the Jets this season, also extended his own record for career interception-return yards to 1,590, adding 49 yards to his career total in 2013.