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Heads or tails both fail for the Saints and Browns

SAM FARMER / ON THE NFL

New Orleans and Cleveland have beaten the odds this season by losing all of their coin flips.

November 19, 2011|Sam Farmer
  • New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees says "it's kind of ridiculous at this point" that the Saints have lost all 11 of their coin tosses.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees says "it's kind of ridiculous… (Streeter Lecka / Getty Images )

Believe it or not, there's an NFL team with a worse record than the 0-10 Indianapolis Colts.

Well, sort of.

The New Orleans Saints are a combined 0-11 on kickoff and overtime coin flips this season, somehow finding themselves on the wrong end every time of what should be a 50-50 proposition.

"It's kind of ridiculous at this point," Saints quarterback Drew Brees told reporters.

The Saints aren't alone. Cleveland is 0-9 in coin flips this season -- something Browns Coach Pat Shurmur and captains Phil Dawson, Joe Thomas and Scott Fujita didn't know until apprised of it by an Associated Press reporter.

"It's kind of like, you line up and it's, 'OK, you got it,' " Thomas said of the coin-flip ritual. "It's never a big deal. All we talk about is strategy: Do we want the ball or do we want to defer?"

For the moment, the Saints are in a class by themselves. According to STATS LLC, the odds of losing 11 coin flips in a row are about 2,000 to 1. That's roughly the same as the Colts turning around their season.

Wrap 'em up

It isn't just quarterbacks who are within reach for Minnesota's Jared Allen and Dallas' DeMarcus Ware this season. Both defensive ends are within striking range of the single-season sack record of 22.5 set by the New York Giants' Michael Strahan in 2001.

Allen leads the league with 13.5 sacks, and Ware has 13.

Sack leaders, since the sack became an official statistic in 1982, through a team's first 10 games and in a single-season all time, according to the NFL:

PLAYER TEAM 10G SACKS
Mark Gastineau NY Jets 1984 17.5
Keith Millard Minnesota 1989 15
Derrick Thomas Kansas City 1990 15
Michael Strahan NY Giants 2001 15
Lawrence Taylor NY Giants 1986 14.5


PLAYER TEAM YEAR SACKS
Michael Strahan NY Giants 2001 22.5
Mark Gastineau NY Jets 1984 22
Reggie White Philadelphia 1987 21
Chris Doleman Minnesota 1989 21


Tyler time

Because Matt Cassel is out with a hand injury, Kansas City's Tyler Palko will make his first NFL start Monday night when the Chiefs play at New England.

The left-handed Palko, 28, has stints in the United Football League and Canadian Football League on his resume, along with go-rounds on the practice squads of the Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers. He was Kansas City's third quarterback last season.

In other words, Monday's game will be a long-awaited and daunting challenge.

"There's so much that goes into playing quarterback that at least in my mind, I don't have any time to really think about it," Palko said. "Probably when we get up there and the lights are on, you'll probably have a 'Wow, this is really happening' moment.

"Nothing is going to change on my end. I'm going to prepare like I've done before."

Palko has made appearances in four NFL games, completing nine of 13 passes for 82 yards in garbage time. He was undrafted, but his claim to fame is he beat out Joe Flacco for the starting job at the University of Pittsburgh, prompting Flacco to transfer to Delaware.

"We feel good about Tyler, or he wouldn't be our No. 2," Chiefs Coach Todd Haley said. "In his case, there's not a lot of regular-season action to go on, but I feel like he's done a great job while he's been here of developing and getting better. He's got a great understanding of how our offense works and what his role within it is."

Double duty

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has eight touchdown catches this season, bringing his career total to 18. He's on pace to reach 20 touchdowns in the fewest games among tight ends in NFL history. Mike Ditka holds the record, reaching the milestone in 31 games.

Gronkowski is two touchdown catches short of the mark and has played in 25 games.

Gronkowski has caught two or more TDs in a game five times in his career, including last week's victory over the New York Jets. So it could happen Monday against the Chiefs. The tight ends to reach 20 touchdown receptions in the fewest games, according to the NFL:

PLAYER TEAMS G
Mike Ditka Chicago 31
Kellen Winslow San Diego 35
Antonio Gates San Diego 37
Raymond Chester Oakland 38
Jerry Smith Washington 40
Fred Arbanas Dallas Texans, K.C. 40


sam.farmer@latimes.com
twitter.com/LATimesfarmer

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