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NFL 2010: Season in Review

Official NFL Release

2010 HAD IT ALL!

Scoring at a 45-year high...passing records falling...record-breaking streaks continuing (and ending) teams making the playoffs and winning divisions...consistent teams excelling once again...young (and, in some cases, undrafted) players making their mark...and so much more!

The 2010 season really did have it all. And each of the 12 teams still in Super Bowl contention can look back at the wild ride that was the 2010 regular season and appreciate how difficult the road to the playoffs was.

"Every week stands on its own. Every game is tough. Every team can beat any other team," says Baltimore head coach JOHN HARBAUGH. "You've always got to be on top of your game. You've got to play well to win."

The best examples of this sentiment this season were the six new division winners in 2010 - Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Seattle - which tied for the most such clubs since realignment in 2002 (six in 2003 and 2008).

The only two repeat division champions from a season ago - New England (AFC East) and Indianapolis (AFC South) - are no strangers to first place.

BILL BELICHICK, whose Patriots finished with an NFL-best 14-2 record, became the first head coach ever to win at least 14 regular-season games in four separate seasons (14 in 2003; 14 in 2004; 16 in 2007).

The Colts qualified for the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season, tying the Dallas Cowboys (1975-83) for the longest such streak in NFL history. Indy also notched its ninth consecutive 10-win season, the second-longest streak in league annals (16, San Francisco, 1983-98).

The NFL is never short on surprises, and that leads to the excitement we witnessed in 2010:

  • A record 11,283 points were scored, with games averaging 44.07 points,the highest average in 45 seasons(46.12 in 1965). In all, 1,270 total touchdowns were scored, tying the league-wide record set in 2002.
  • For the 15th consecutive season,at least five teams made the playoffs that did not advance the year before. Five clubs - Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Seattle - accomplished the feat this year.
  • Kansas City rebounded to win the AFC West after a last-place finish in 2009. This marked theNFL-record eighth consecutive season that a team went from "worst-to-first" in its division.
  • Three teams - Tampa Bay (seven-game improvement), Kansas City (six) and St. Louis (six) -combined for a 19-game improvement from 2009 to 2010.
  • A record-tying 13 teams won 10+ games - New England (14), Atlanta (13), Baltimore (12), Pittsburgh (12), Chicago (11), New Orleans (11), N.Y. Jets (11), Green Bay (10), Indianapolis (10), Kansas City (10), N.Y. Giants (10), Philadelphia (10) and Tampa Bay (10). Thirteen teams also did so in 2003 and 2005.
  • "A lot of real close, competitive games come down to the last possession, the last play or one key play right at the end of the game," says Belichick. "The league is very competitive all the way across the board." Nothing exhibits that more than the tightness of NFL games.

Games continued to be this close. Nearly 67% were within one score in the fourth quarter:










8 or Fewer

130 of 256


8 or Fewer

171 of 256


7 or Fewer

121 of 256


7 or Fewer

166 of 256


3 or Fewer

65 of 256


3 or Fewer

123 of 256


  • Consistency is difficult, but not impossible, to maintain in the NFL.The 2010 postseason will feature the top six teams with the most playoff berths since 2000 - Indianapolis (10), Philadelphia (nine), New England (eight), Baltimore (seven), Green Bay (seven) and Pittsburgh (seven).
  • Five of this season's 12 playoff teams have won at least one Super Bowl in the past decade, capturing eight of the past 10 Vince Lombardi Trophies. Those teams are Baltimore (XXXV), Indianapolis (XLI), New England (XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX), New Orleans (XLIV) and Pittsburgh (XL and XLIII).
  • The other two Super Bowl champions from the past decade - the New York Giants (XLII) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (XXXVII) - won 10 games apiece in 2010 and narrowly missed the postseason.
  • 2009 was considered by many to be the Year of the Quarterback, but NFL QBs put together a historically proficient and prolific year in 2010.
  • The league-wide passer rating (84.1) and touchdown-interception ratio (1.47:1) were both at historic levels, topping the previous records set in 2008 (83.2 passer rating) and 2004 (1.40:1 TD:INT ratio).
  • Touchdown passes (751) were at an all-time high, andgames averaged 443.1 passing yards per game, the most in history (441.6 in 1995).
  • A record 22 quarterbacks passed for over 3,000 yards - PHILIP RIVERS(4,710), PEYTON MANNING (4,700), DREW BREES (4,620), MATT SCHAUB (4,370), ELI MANNING (4,002), CARSON PALMER (3,970), AARON RODGERS (3,922), TOM BRAD Y(3,900), MATT RYAN (3,705), KYLE ORTON (3,653), JOE FLACCO (3,622), SAM BRADFORD (3,512), JOSH FREEMAN (3,451), DONOVAN MCNABB (3,377), CHAD HENNE (3,301), MARK SANCHEZ (3,291), JAY CUTLER(3,274), BEN ROETHLISBERGER (3,200), MATT CASSEL (3,116), MICHAEL VICK (3,018), MATT HASSELBECK (3,001) and RYAN FITZPATRICK (3,000) - in 2010, surpassing the previous best of 19 in 2001 and 2009.
  • Eleven quarterbacks threw for 25+ passing touchdowns - Brady(36), Brees (33), P. Manning (33), E. Manning (31),Rivers (30), Rodgers (28), Ryan (28), Cassel (27), Palmer (26), Flacco (25) and Freeman (25) - the second-most in history (12 in 2009).
  • There were 11 individual 400-yard passing performances, the third-most all-time. Only the 1986 (13) and 2004 (13) seasons had more.
  • Tom Brady kept alive several NFL-record streaks through the regular season. With a perfect 8-0 record at Gillette Stadium in 2010, Brady has won his past 28 consecutive regular-season home starts, the longest such streak in league history. He also has an active streak of 335 consecutive passes without an interception, an NFL record.
  • Peyton Manning set asingle-season record for pass completions with 450, but Drew Brees was right on his heels with 448, the second-most all-time. Brees is th eonly player in history to complete 400+ passes in multiple seasons (2007, 2008 and 2010).
  • Several young rushers enjoyed breakout seasons in 2010, while others stayed hot. Houston Texans RB ARIAN FOSTER, led the NFL with 1,616 rushing yards and joined PRIEST HOLMES (1,555 in 2001 with Kansas City) as the only undrafted players to lead the league in rushing yards since the advent of the common draft in 1967.
  • Kansas City Chiefs RB JAMAAL CHARLES, who finished second behind Foster for the rushing title, averaged 6.38 yards per carry (1,467 yards on 230 attempts) and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer JIM BROWN (291 attempts, 1,863 yards, 6.40 yards per carry in 1963) as the only players in NFL history to have at least 1,400 rushing yards and average more than 6.30 yards per carry in a single season.
  • And CHRIS JOHNSON of the Titans and ADRIAN PETERSON of the Vikings just keep going. With 1,364 rushing yards this season, Johnson now has 4,598 in his career, the third-most of any player through his first three seasons. Peterson rushed for 1,298 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2010, becoming the fourth player to start his career with at least four consecutive seasons of 1,200 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.
  • Wide receivers REGGIE WAYNE, RODDY WHITE and DWAYNE BOWE all had historic seasons. With an AFC-best 111 receptions, Indianapolis' Wayne became the seventh player in NFL history with three or more 100-catch seasons. White led the league with 115 receptions, a single-season Falcons record, while Bowe paced the NFL with 15 touchdown catches, the most in a season in Chiefs history.
  • Chicago's KR-PR-WR DEVIN HESTER continued to befuddle opposing coverage units, setting a single-season record for punt return average (17.1, minimum 30 returns )while also posting three punt-return touchdowns in 2010. Hester now has 14 combined kick-return touchdown in his career, surpassing BRIAN MITCHELL (13) for the most of any player in NFL annals.
  • With all that offense,defenses were heard from as well. The Pittsburgh Steelers yielded an NFL-low 62.8 rushing yards per game, the fifth-best mark in NFL history...Despite missing the first six games of 2010, Baltimore safety ED REED still led the NFL with eight interceptions. Reed's six missed games are the most of any player to lead the NFL in INTs...Dallas' DE MARCUS WAREnotched three sacks in Week 17 to take home his second career NFL sack title (15.5), becoming the fifth player to lead the league twice since the statistic became official in 1982...and don't forget Washington CB DE ANGELO HALL, who tied the single-game record with four interceptions against Chicago on October 24.
  • Many young players excelled in 2010. With 33 career wins, Matt Ryan tied Pro Football Hall of Famer DAN MARINO (33 wins from 1983-85) for the most wins of any starting quarterback in his first three seasons to begin his career since 1970. Joe Flacco, who entered the NFL with Ryan in 2008, also led the Ravens to 32 wins during the same span, trailing only to Ryan and Marino... Sam Bradford set rookie passing records for completions (354) and attempts (590)...Green Bay's sophomore LB CLAY MATTHEWS ranked second in the NFC with 13.5 sacks, becoming the first Packer to start his career with consecutive 10+-sack seasons... And Detroit Lions rookie NDAMUKONG SUH led all defensive tackles with 10.0 sacks, the most among all rookies this season.