Amari Cooper's record-setting day highlights a milestone week for NFL wide receivers

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Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (2) catches a pass for a touchdown as Houston Texans cornerback Derek Stingley Jr. (24) defends during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)

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Several receivers had milestone performances this past week, but no one could do what Amari Cooper did for the Cleveland Browns.

Cooper caught 11 passes for a franchise-record 265 yards and two TDs in a 36-22 win over the Houston Texans on Sunday, becoming the fourth player ever with at least three games with 200 yards receiving and two TDs.

Cooper joined Don Hutson, who did it four times, as well as Charley Hennigan and Tyreek Hill, who each did it three times. Cooper became the sixth player with at least four 200-yard receiving games and joined Terrell Owens as the only players to have a 200-yard game with three teams, having previously accomplished the feat with Dallas and the Raiders.

Among the other receivers with milestone performances last week were Mike Evans, Justin Jefferson, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Puka Nacua.

Evans caught two TD passes in Tampa Bay's 30-12 win over Jacksonville to give him 13 this season. He joined Hall of Famers Jerry Rice (eight seasons), Owens (seven), Marvin Harrison (six) and Randy Moss (six) as the only players to do that in at least five seasons.

Jefferson had six catches for 141 yards and a TD in Minnesota's 30-24 loss to Detroit to give him 5,648 yards receiving — breaking Michael Thomas' record of 5,512 through four seasons.

St. Brown caught 12 passes in that game to give him 302 for his career. The only players with at least 300 catches in their first three seasons are Jefferson (324), Thomas (321) and Christian McCaffrey (303).

Nacua had nine catches for 164 yards in the Rams' 30-22 win over the Saints to give him 96 catches for 1,327 yards. He is closing in on the rookie records for both and needs only nine catches in the final two games to break Jaylen Waddle's record of 104 in 2021 and 147 yards to break Bill Groman's record of 1,473 in 1960.


The Detroit Lions finally won the NFC North.

The Lions clinched their first division title since winning the NFC Central in 1993 — nine years before the NFC North was created.

That ended the second-longest active drought without a division title in the NFL, with the Browns the only team going longer, having not won a division since 1989.

Cleveland still has an outside chance to end that this season, but the Browns would need to win their final two games and hope Baltimore loses its final two games.

The shared success for the Lions and Browns is rare, as their 21 combined wins this season are tied for their most ever in a season. They also won 21 games combined in 1953 when Detroit beat Cleveland for the NFL championship.

The next longest division droughts belong to the Jets and Raiders, who last won division titles in 2002. The Jets have been eliminated this season, but the Raiders do have a chance if they win their final two games and Kansas City loses twice.

One more win by the Chiefs and they will clinch their eighth straight division title, breaking a tie with the Los Angeles Rams (1972-78) for the second-longest streak. Only the New England Patriots have a longer streak, winning the AFC East 11 straight seasons from 2009-19.


Mason Rudolph, Taylor Heinicke and Trevor Siemian became the latest starting QBs to get into the win column this season.

Rudolph led Pittsburgh over Cincinnati, Heinicke led Atlanta past Indianapolis and Siemian led the Jets to a win over Washington, raising the total of starting QBs to get wins to 52 — the most through the first 16 weeks of a season since 1999 when 54 quarterbacks did it.

There have only been four seasons — excluding 1987 with replacement players — that featured more than 52 quarterbacks to win starts. There were 53 in 2022, 2010 and 1998, and a record 56 in 1999.


Derrick Henry has built a stellar career running and catching the ball, with 11,585 yards from scrimmage and 96 TDs in the regular season and playoffs.

He's also not so bad when he throws it.

Henry threw his fifth career TD pass in the regular season or playoffs on Sunday against Seattle. It was the third time he had a TD run and pass in the same game.

Only three other players have gained at least 10,000 yards from scrimmage and thrown at least five TD passes, with Henry joining Hall of Famers Marcus Allen, Walter Payton and LaDainian Tomlinson. Keith Byars is the only other running back with at least five TD passes, having thrown six in his career.


The Las Vegas Raiders' defense is proving it's almost as good at scoring touchdowns as preventing them.

The Raiders got two touchdowns from their defense for the second straight week, becoming the first team to do that since the 2012 Chicago Bears. Only four other teams have done that since 1948: the 1992 Vikings, the 1984 Broncos, the 1983 Steelers and the 1960 Browns.

Jack Jones had pick-6s against both the Chargers in Week 15 and the Chiefs in Week 16, joining Dallas' DaRon Bland as the only players with back-to-back games with defensive touchdowns.

The other two came on fumble recoveries by defensive linemen, with Bilal Nichols following up the return by John Jenkins in Week 15. That made the Raiders just the 10th team since the merger to get TDs from two players listed at 300 pounds or heavier in the same season.

The last time that happened came in 2021 when Philadelphia and Dallas both did it. Tackle Lane Johnson caught a TD pass and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox scored on a fumble return for the Eagles, while tackle Terence Steele caught a TD pass and defensive tackle Carlos Watkins returned an interception for a touchdown for the Cowboys.



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