by Rob Joyce
For all the change that has goes on in Cleveland over the past decade – the quarterbacks, the coaches, the front office – one thing has been a constant (no, not the losing). Since joining the league as the third overall pick in the 2007 Draft, left tackle Joe Thomas played every single snap, every single game… at least until Sunday. After a mind-boggling 10,363 consecutive snaps Thomas had to leave Sunday’s loss to the Titans with a left arm injury, ending one of the NFL’s most incredible feats.
Think of all the things that have to happen for a player to be on the field for every snap. He can’t have someone falling on the back of his knees, he can’t get stepped on by a running back, he can’t even lose a shoe or have an equipment issue. Now multiply that by 10 years and six games, and that’s what Thomas achieved.
In that light, here are some other wild stats and streaks that players and teams have accrued in the NFL:
The all-time leader in receptions, yards and touchdowns by a receiver by a wide margin, it’s no surprise that the Hall of Famer also owns the record for most consecutive games with a catch. Starting in Week 14 of the 1985 season, when the rookie caught 10 balls for 241 yards against the Rams, Rice caught a pass in 274 consecutive games, ending in Week 2 of the 2004 season. Only Tony Gonzalez (211) has done it in even 200 straight contests.
He also owns the record for most consecutive games with a touchdown (13), set between the 1986 and ’87 seasons.
By nature kickers and punters can play far longer than anyone in the NFL. Consider that Adam Vinatieri (age 44), Phil Dawson (42), Matt Bryant (42) and Shane Lechler (41) are the four oldest players in the league, and all kick the ball for a living. Even with that caveat, Morten Andersen blows them all out of the water. Starting in Week 14 of the 1983 season with the Saints until his retirement following the 2007 season with the Falcons, the Hall of Famer scored a point in 360 consecutive games. That means for 23 years, across six teams, he either made an extra point or a field goal until he was 47.
Jason Elam is second on the list, scoring in 263 consecutive games, or six full seasons less than Andersen.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
This one is incredible, but not for the right reasons. The expansion Bucs of 1976 were built to lose, as expansion drafts of the time left them with essentially aged veterans no other teams wanted, and the results showed. They finished the year 0-14, with 10 of those losses coming by at least 17 points. That carried over into 1977, when they lost the first dozen contests before finally breaking through to win their final two games. Those 26 consecutive losses are an NFL record, and in today’s world of parity and free agency, it seems to be an unreachable one.
Brady interceptions are like Bigfoot sightings: they don’t happen very much and you don’t really believe it when you’re told. So it’s no surprise that it’s the Patriots’ quarterback who owns the official mark (since 2000) of the most consecutive passes without being picked off. After a Week 5 interception against the Ravens, Brady went pick-less over the final 11 games of the 2010 season, not throwing another one until the second half of Week 1 in 2011. In that span he attempted 358 passes and threw 26 touchdowns.
An undrafted defensive back out of Southern Miss in 1962, Morrow only played three years in the league, but his name remains atop one list. Between the end of 1962 and the start of 1963 the Raiders’ DB intercepted a pass in eight consecutive games. As incredible is in that span he picked off 12 passes. For his career he compiled 23 interceptions in just 42 games. For context, the 23 current players with at least 23 career INTs have all spent at least seven years in the league.