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NFL 2016 Regular Season Review - Thriving on Offense
Great players and teams excelling once again. Records falling. Offenses making their mark. And so much more. Here's a look at the excitement we witnessed on the offensive side of the ball during the NFL 2016 Regular Season.
The NFL 2016 regular season had it all, including a fantastic finish. The 2016 season also proved that consistency is difficult, but not impossible, to maintain in the NFL.
A total of 11,661 points were scored during the 2016 season, the third-highest total all-time (11,985 points in 2013 and 11,680 points in 2015). Games averaged 45.55 points per game, the third-highest average since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger and trailing only the 46.82 points per game average in 2013 and the 45.63 average in 2015.
In all, 1,306 total touchdowns were scored, also the third-most all-time.
Nine teams scored at least 400 points this season -- Atlanta (540), New Orleans (469), New England (441), Green Bay (432), Dallas (421), Arizona (418), Oakland (416), Indianapolis (411) and San Diego (410) -- tying the 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2015 seasons for the second-most all-time. Those nine teams combined for a .601 winning percentage and five qualified for the playoffs.
NFL QBs put together a historically proficient and prolific year in 2016.
The league-wide completion percentage (63.0) tied the previous record set in 2015, while the league-wide passer rating (89.3) ranked second behind only the 2015 season (90.2). There were 786 touchdown passes thrown in 2016, the fourth-highest total in NFL history.
The league-wide interception percentage of 2.3 percent was the lowest of any season in NFL history, surpassing the previous mark of 2.4 in 2015.
Games averaged 700.8 total net yards per game, the second-best mark in NFL annals (705.3 in 2015). Explosive passing offenses fueled that trend, with an average of 483.0 net passing yards per game, the second-highest total all-time (487.6 in 2015).
There were 57 individual performances with three touchdown passes without an interception in 2016, the third-highest of any season in NFL history (59 in 2015, 58 in 2014).
New England quarterback TOM BRADY (205) surpassed PEYTON MANNING (200) as the all-time wins leader (including playoffs) in NFL history.
Brady finished the regular season with 28 touchdown passes and two interceptions, recording the highest touchdown/interception ratio in NFL history.
Quarterbacks DREW BREES of New Orleans and TOM BRADY of New England both climbed higher on the all-time list for career passing yards. Brees ranks third all-time in passing yards (66,111), while Brady ranks fourth (61,582), as both players surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (61,361) during the 2016 season. Only PEYTON MANNING (71,940) and Pro Football Hall of Famer BRETT FAVRE (71,838) have more career passing yards.
The New York Giants' ELI MANNING (320), San Diego's PHILIP RIVERS (314) and Pittsburgh's BEN ROETHLISBERGER (301) each reached 300 career passing touchdowns during the season, becoming the eighth, ninth and tenth quarterbacks in NFL history, respectively, to reach the mark.
Atlanta quarterback MATT RYAN recorded a 117.1 passer rating in 2016, the fifth-highest single-season passer rating in NFL history.
New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES led the NFL with 5,208 passing yards in 2016, the fourth-highest passing yardage total in league history. Brees is the first player to lead the league in passing yards seven times, extending his NFL record.
Brees (2008, 2011-13, 2016) has five of the nine individual 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history and is the only quarterback in league history to pass for at least 5,000 yards in multiple seasons.
Brees, who has 53,763 passing yards in his 11 seasons with the Saints, is the sixth quarterback to pass for 50,000 yards with one team.
Brees had two 400-yard passing games in 2016. In 16 seasons, Brees has 15 career 400-yard passing games, surpassing PEYTON MANNING (14) for the most such games in NFL history.
Brees had a league-leading 10 300-yard passing games in 2016 and his 106 career 300-yard passing games are the most in NFL history.
Green Bay quarterback AARON RODGERS led the NFL with 40 passing touchdowns in 2016. Rodgers, who passed for 45 touchdowns in 2011, became the fourth player in NFL history with at least 40 touchdown passes in multiple seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (two), PEYTON MANNING (two) and DREW BREES (two).
Brees ranked third in the NFL with 37 touchdown passes, joining TOM BRADY (four), Manning (four) and Rodgers (four) as the only players in NFL history with at least 35 touchdown passes in four different seasons.
Brees has passed for at least 30 touchdowns in nine consecutive seasons, extending his NFL-record streak.
Detroit quarterback MATTHEW STAFFORD led the Lions on eight game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime in 2016, the most such drives by a quarterback in a single season since 1970.
Tampa Bay quarterback JAMEIS WINSTON had 4,090 passing yards and became the first player in NFL history with at least 4,000 passing yards in each of his first two seasons.
Winston (50) is one of only five quarterbacks to pass for at least 50 touchdowns over his first two seasons, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (68), DEREK CARR (53), PEYTON MANNING (52) and RUSSELL WILSON (52).
Minnesota quarterback SAM BRADFORD completed 395 of 552 attempts for an NFL-record 71.6 completion percentage, surpassing DREW BREES' record of 71.2 percent in 2011.
Dallas rookie quarterback DAK PRESCOTT passed for 3,667 yards with 23 touchdowns and four interceptions for a 104.9 rating in 2016. Prescott joined TOM BRADY (2010, 2016) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with at least 3,500 passing yards and fewer than five interceptions in a season and is the first rookie in NFL history to accomplish the feat.
Rushing & Receiving
Several running backs enjoyed historic seasons in 2016.
Seven players registered at least 10 rushing touchdowns in 2016 -- New England's LE GARRETTE BLOUNT (18), Arizona's DAVID JOHNSON (16), Dallas' EZEKIEL ELLIOTT (15), Buffalo's LE SEAN MC COY (13), Oakland's LATAVIUS MURRAY (12), Atlanta's DEVONTA FREEMAN (11) and San Diego's MELVIN GORDON (10).
Twelve players registered at least 1,000 rushing yards this season -- Elliott (1,631), Chicago's JORDAN HOWARD (1,313), Tennessee's DE MARCO MURRAY (1,287), Miami's JAY AJAYI (1,272), Pittsburgh's LE'VEON BELL (1,268), McCoy (1,267), Johnson (1,239), Blount (1,161), Freeman (1,079), Houston's LAMAR MILLER (1,073), New Orleans' MARK INGRAM (1,043) and Indianapolis' FRANK GORE (1,025).
Dallas running back EZEKIEL ELLIOTT led the NFL with 1,631 rushing yards this season, becoming the fifth rookie since 1970 to lead the league in rushing yards and the first since EDGERRIN JAMES (1,553 yards) in 1999.
Elliott had 1,994 scrimmage yards (1,631 rushing, 363 receiving) this season, the third-highest total by a rookie in NFL history, trailing only Pro Football Hall of Famer ERIC DICKERSON (2,212 in 1983) and James (2,139 in 1999).
Indianapolis running back FRANK GORE (13,065) became the eighth player in NFL history to reach 13,000 career rushing yards.
Gore, who had 1,025 rushing yards this season, became the fifth player in NFL history with at least nine seasons of 1,000 rushing yards, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers EMMITT SMITH (11), CURTIS MARTIN (10), WALTER PAYTON (10) and BARRY SANDERS (10).
Three players registered at least 100 receptions in 2016 -- Arizona's LARRY FITZGERALD (107), Pittsburgh's ANTONIO BROWN (106) and the New York Giants' ODELL BECKHAM JR. (101).
Six players recorded at least 1,200 receiving yards in 2016 -- Indianapolis' T.Y. HILTON (1,448), Atlanta' JULIO JONES (1,409), Beckham (1,367), Tampa Bay's MIKE EVANS (1,321), Brown (1,284), and Green Bay's JORDY NELSON (1,257).
Five players had at least 10 touchdown catches in 2016 -- Nelson (14), Green Bay's DAVANTE ADAMS (12), Brown (12), Evans (12) and Beckham (10).
Arizona wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD led the NFL with 107 catches and at 33 years, 123 days old, became the oldest player to lead the league in receptions since Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (34 years, 71 days) in 1996.
Fitzgerald has four career seasons with at least 100 catches, trailing only BRANDON MARSHALL (six), ANDRE JOHNSON (five) and WES WELKER (five) all-time.
Pittsburgh wide receiver ANTONIO BROWN ranked second in the NFL with 106 catches this season and has 481 receptions over the past four seasons, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (469 from 1999-2002) for the most catches in any four-year span in NFL history.
Brown has four consecutive seasons with at least 100 catches, tying Harrison (four from 1999-2002) for the most consecutive 100-catch seasons in NFL history.
Wide receivers LARRY FITZGERALD of Arizona and ANQUAN BOLDIN of Detroit each played in their 200th career games in Week 16. Fitzgerald (1,116) has the most career receptions in a player's first 200 games in NFL history, surpassing Pro Football Hall of Famer JERRY RICE (1,115).
Boldin had 1,067 career receptions through 200 career games, the fourth-highest total in NFL history. The only players with more are Fitzgerald (1,116), Rice (1,115) and Pro Football Hall of Famer MARVIN HARRISON (1,102).
Boldin had 67 catches this season, the 14th consecutive season he has caught 50+ passes since entering the league in 2003. That is the longest streak to begin a career in NFL history.
Fitzgerald, who recorded his 13th consecutive season with 50+ catches, has the second-longest such streak to begin a career.
New York Giants wide receiver ODELL BECKHAM JR. finished third in the NFL with a career-high 101 catches. Beckham has 288 receptions through his first three seasons, tied with Miami's JARVIS LANDRY for the most through a player's first three seasons in NFL history.
Beckham has 4,122 receiving yards through his first three seasons and is one of only two players in NFL history to record at least 4,000 receiving yards in his first three seasons (RANDY MOSS, 4,163 from 1998-2000).
Beckham and Landry are the only two players in NFL history with at least 80 catches in each of their first three seasons in the NFL.
Baltimore wide receiver STEVE SMITH SR., who has 1,031 career catches, became the 14th player in NFL history to reach 1,000 career receptions.
Smith (14,731) climbed to seventh place in NFL history in receiving yards, while Arizona's LARRY FITZGERALD (14,389) moved into ninth place all-time.
San Diego tight end ANTONIO GATES had seven receiving touchdowns in 2016 and has 111 career touchdown catches, tying TONY GONZALEZ for the most by a tight end in NFL history.
Gates brought his career receiving yards total to 11,192, becoming the third tight end in NFL history to reach 11,000 career receiving yards, joining Gonzalez (15,127) and JASON WITTEN (11,888).
Carolina tight end GREG OLSEN, who had 1,073 receiving yards this season, became the first tight end in NFL history to record three consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards.
Arizona running back DAVID JOHNSON led the league with 2,118 scrimmage yards (1,239 rushing, 879 receiving) and became the fourth different player with at least 1,200 rushing yards and 800 receiving yards in a single season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famer MARSHALL FAULK (1998-2000), STEVEN JACKSON (2006) and LE'VEON BELL (2014).
Johnson recorded at least 100 scrimmage yards in each of his first 15 games this season, becoming the first player in NFL history to start a season with 15 consecutive games with 100+ scrimmage yards.
Johnson tied Pro Football Hall of Famer BARRY SANDERS (15) as the only players in NFL history to record 15 consecutive games with at least 100 scrimmage yards in a single season.
Indianapolis running back FRANK GORE, who has 13,065 rushing yards and 414 receptions in his career, became the fifth player in NFL history with at least 13,000 rushing yards and 400 receptions. Gore joined Pro Football Hall of Famers CURTIS MARTIN, WALTER PAYTON and EMMITT SMITH and LA DAINIAN TOMLINSON as the only players to accomplish the feat.
Gore had 1,302 scrimmage yards (1,025 rushing, 277 receiving) this season, becoming the first player in NFL history to record at least 1,200 scrimmage yards in 11 consecutive seasons.
Philadelphia's DARREN SPROLES had two receiving touchdowns in 2016, bringing his career total to 30 touchdown catches. Sproles is the only player in NFL history with at least 30 receiving touchdowns (30), 20 rushing touchdowns (22) and five punt-return touchdowns (seven).
Kansas City rookie wide receiver-return specialist TYREEK HILL became the first player since Pro Football Hall of Famer GALE SAYERS in 1965 to have a rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown and kickoff-return touchdown in the same game in the Chiefs' Week 12 overtime victory at Denver.
Hill is the only player in NFL history to record at least three receiving touchdowns (six), three rushing touchdowns (three) and three total kick-return touchdowns (three) in a single season.
Indianapolis kicker ADAM VINATIERI converted 43 consecutive field-goal attempts dating back to 2015, the longest streak in NFL history, surpassing MIKE VANDERJAGT's previous record of 42.
With 125 points this season, Vinatieri became the only player in NFL history to score 100+ points in 19 different seasons.
Oakland kicker SEBASTIAN JANIKOWSKI, who has converted 55 career 50+ yard field goals, surpassed Jason Hanson (52) for the most 50-yard field goals in NFL history.
Baltimore kicker JUSTIN TUCKER converted 10 50+ yard field goals in 2016, tying BLAIR WALSH (10) for the most 50-yard field goals in a single season in NFL history.
Tucker converted 38 of 39 field goal attempts (97.4 percent) in 2016, the third-highest single-season field-goal percentage in NFL history (minimum 20 attempts). Only GARY ANDERSON (35 of 35 in 1998) and MIKE VANDERJAGT (37 of 37 in 2003) have higher single-season field-goal percentages.