Special to ESPN.com
NO NOWITZKI? NO PROBLEM
The Mavericks defeated the Cavaliers, 102-95, despite the absence of Dirk Nowitzki. It was the first time since April 2002 that Dallas won a game that Nowitzki missed against an opponent with a record at least 10 games above the .500 mark. The Mavs lost five such games in the interim, all by at least 10 points.
MELO'S 40 AGAIN FAILS TO PRODUCE A NUGGETS VICTORY
For the second time in less than two weeks, Carmelo Anthony scored 40 points but the Nuggets lost this time by a 102-96 score at Memphis. This is the second consecutive month in which Anthony recorded two 40-point games (something he also did in December 2005). Over the last 15 seasons, no other Nuggets player had even one month in which he scored at least 40 points in two or more games.
CP3 LOSES HIS SHOOTING TOUCH
Chris Paul made only three of 13 field goal attempts in the Hornets' 98-92 loss at Toronto. It was the third time this month that Paul missed at least 10 shots from the field in one game. He had no such games during November. New Orleans has lost the last six regular-season games in which Paul missed at least 10 FGA, and the Hornets also lost both such postseason games during that time.
RONDO POSTS 15 ASSISTS IN CELTICS' WIN OVER T'WOLVES
Rajon Rondo was credited with 15 assists in the Celtics 122-104 win over the Timberwolves. It was the fourth time during 2009 that Rondo recorded at least 15 assists in one game, the most such games by a Celtics player in one calendar year since Sherman Douglas had five 15-assist games in 1993.
BLACKHAWKS HANG ANOTHER 3-0 ON VISITING WINGS
The Blackhawks defeated the Red Wings, 3-0, on Sunday, the same score by which Detroit lost on its last visit to Chicago (April 12, 2009). Sunday's game was the Red Wings 354th at Chicago, and this is the first time that the Blackhawks have won consecutive home games against the Wings by shutout, scoring at least three goals in both games.
HUET POSTS BACK-TO-BACK SHUTOUTS
Cristobal Huet, who posted Sunday's 3-0 win against the Red Wings, defeated the Blues by the same score in his previous appearance. It's the third time that Huet has recorded shutouts in consecutive games in his NHL career. He did it twice with the Canadiens in the 2005-2006 season, and he's the first Blackhawks goaltender with shutouts in consecutive games since Jocelyn Thibault blanked the Red Wings and Thrashers on November 5-7, 2002.
HARRISON TOPPLES THE GREATEST BROWN AFTER A HALF-CENTURY
Jerome Harrison gained 286 yards rushing in the Browns' 41-34 victory at Kansas City, breaking the team record that Jim Brown set 52 years ago (237 yards against the Rams in 1957). Only three other team single-game rushing records stood for at least a half-century: Steve Van Buren, 205 yards for the Eagles (1949-present); Cliff Battles, 215 for the Redskins (1933-1989); and Choo-Choo Roberts, 218 for the Giants (1950-2005).
AFTER 88 YEARS, FIRST GINN THEN CRIBBS
Joshua Cribbs became the second player in NFL history to score two touchdowns on kickoff returns of at least 100 yards in the same game. The first was Ted Ginn of the Dolphins just seven weeks ago.
BIG BEN THROWS LATE GAME-WINNING IN 503-YARD EFFORT
Ben Roethlisberger threw a 19-yard TD pass as time expired, capping a 503-yard performance, in the Steelers' 37-36 win over the Packers. Roethlisberger is the first player in NFL history to pass for at least 500 yards and throw a game-winning TD pass in the fourth quarter of the same game.
A RECORD FOR YARDAGE WITHOUT AN INTERCEPTION
Ben Roethlisberger (503) and Aaron Rodgers (383) passed for a total of 886 yards passing and neither threw an interception on the Steelers' win over the Packers. That is the highest total in NFL history in a game in which there were no INTs.
TITANS COMPLETE LONG, IMPRESSIVE CLIMB TO MEDIOCRITY
The Titans, who suffered through an 0-6 start, attained the .500 mark for the first time this season, improving their record to 7-7 with a 27-24 overtime win against the Dolphins. Tennessee became the first team in NFL history to reach the .500 mark after losing its first six games. Six teams evened their record after an 0-5 start, including the Titans three years ago.
KAEDING EXTENDS SHORT FG-STREAK, THEN KICKS LONG GAME-WINNER
Late in the third quarter, Nate Kaeding extended his NFL record by making his 62nd consecutive field goal of 40 yards or less, giving the Chargers a 24-13 lead over the Bengals. But Kaeding had to step out of his comfort zone, kicking a 52-yarder with 3 seconds to play to give San Diego a 27-24 victory. It was only Kaeding's fifth field goal of 50 yards or longer during his record streak of 40-or-shorter FGs, which spans nearly three full seasons, dating back to September 2007.
JETS' DEFENSE SLIPS AT A BAD TIME
Matt Ryan capped a 73-yard drive with a six-yard touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez with 1:38 to play, giving the Falcons a 10-7 victory over the Jets. The Jets hadn't allowed a touchdown on their opponents' last 33 drives, the team's longest such streak since 1993.
JOHNSON'S PAIR OF NEAR-MISSES DESERVES HONORABLE MENTION
For the second straight week, Andre Johnson had a near-miss for what would have been the second 200-yard receiving game of his career. But by gaining 193 yards against the Seahawks last week and 196 in Sunday's 16-13 win over the Rams, Johnson became only the second receiver in NFL history to reach the 190-yard yard mark in consecutive games. The first was Chad Ochocinco in November 2006.
CUTLER'S PICKOFF TOTAL REACHES NOTEWORTHY LEVEL
Jay Cutler threw three interceptions in the Bears' 31-7 loss at Baltimore, raising his league-leading total to 25 INTs this season. That's the highest total by a veteran player (excludes rookies) in his first season with a new team since Ken Stabler was picked off 28 times with the Houston Oilers in 1980.
LIONS STRIKE QUICKLY WITH TWO LONG TDS
The Lions scored two long touchdowns in the third quarter to erase a 17-0 halftime deficit in a 31-24 loss to the Cardinals. Louise Delmas scored on a 100-yard interception return, and Maurice Morris scored on a 64-yard run. There was only one other game in the last 50 years in which Detroit scored two TDs at least that long in the same period: Germane Crowell scored on a 68-yard pass from Charlie Batch and Barry Sanders run 73 yards for a TD in the fourth quarter of a victory over the Packers in 1998.
CALDWELL'S EARLY SUCCESS RECALLS LOMBARDI'S
With the Saints' loss at Dallas on Saturday night, the Colts became the NFL's last undefeated team for the 2009 season and Jim Caldwell became only the second rookie head coach in the last four decades to earn that distinction. Over the last 40 years, the only other first-year head coach of the NFL's last unbeaten team was Bill Callahan of the Raiders in 2002. Among the more prominent coaches to have done that prior to 1970 were Vince Lombardi (1959 Packers), Sid Gillman (1955 Rams), and Blanton Collier (1963 Browns).