Ken Stabler played his final NFL game on Oct. 21, 1984. But on Sunday, the former Foley High School and Alabama star was back in the league’s news.
On Oct. 13, 1978, Stabler threw three touchdown passes to pace the Oakland Raiders to a 34-21 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. The game was the 75th regular-season start of Stabler’s NFL career, and it was the Raiders’ 58th victory in that span.
No other quarterback had produced that many wins in his first 75 starts before Stabler, and none had done so since until Sunday, when Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to a 26-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Mahomes made his 74th regular-season start in the game, and the Chiefs won 59 of them, sending him past Stabler’s 75-start showing of 58-16-1.
Like the Snake, Mahomes will make his 75th start against the Bengals, when the Chiefs visit Cincinnati on Sunday. But even if Kansas City loses, Mahomes’ 75-game record still would be one-half game better than Stabler’s.
The tie game that would be the difference in that case came on Oct. 22, 1973, when the Denver Broncos’ Jim Turner made a 35-yard field goal with three seconds to play to knot the score with Oakland at 23-23. The NFL did not have overtime at the time. Four of Mahomes’ victories came in overtime.
The Kansas City-Cincinnati game is one of three on the NFL’s Week 13 schedule between division leaders. In the AFC West, the Chiefs have the conference’s best record at 9-2. The Bengals and Baltimore Ravens are atop the AFC North at 7-4.
Last season, Cincinnati defeated Kansas City 34-31 on Jan. 2 to clinch a playoff berth, then beat the Chiefs 27-24 in overtime in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 30.
The other first-vs.-first games on Sunday are interconference contests. The Tennessee Titans of the AFC South visit the Philadelphia Eagles of the NFC East, and the Miami Dolphins of the AFC East visit the San Francisco 49ers of the NFC West.
Two of those games feature quarterbacks following in Stabler’s footsteps. The Eagles’ Jalen Hurts and Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa are Alabama alumni. Each player has made 30 regular-season starts in the NFL. Miami has won 21 of Tagovailoa’s starts, and Philadelphia has won 19 of Hurts’ starts.
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The Alabama Game of the Week is the Titans-Eagles contest on Sunday. Fourteen players from Alabama high schools and colleges are on the teams’ active rosters.
The complete Week 13 schedule (with all times Central and with point spreads from vegasinsider.com):
· Buffalo Bills (-4) at New England Patriots, 7:15 p.m. (Prime Video)
· Pittsburgh Steelers (-1.5) at Atlanta Falcons, noon (WIAT, WHNT, WKRG, WAKA, WTVY)
· Denver Broncos at Baltimore Ravens (-8.5), noon
· Green Bay Packers (-5.5) at Chicago Bears, noon
· Jacksonville Jaguars at Detroit Lions (-1), noon
· Cleveland Browns (-7) at Houston Texans, noon
· New York Jets at Minnesota Vikings (-3), noon
· Washington Commanders (-2.5) at New York Giants, noon
· Tennessee Titans at Philadelphia Eagles (-5.5), noon (WZDX, WALA, WCOV, WDFX)
· Seattle Seahawks (-7.5) at Los Angeles Rams, 3:05 p.m.
· Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers (-3.5), 3:05 p.m. (WBRC)
· Kansas City Chiefs (-2.5) at Cincinnati Bengals, 3:25 p.m. (WIAT, WHNT, WKRG, WAKA, WTVY)
· Los Angeles Chargers (-1.5) at Las Vegas Raiders, 3:25 p.m.
· Indianapolis Colts at Dallas Cowboys (-10.5), 7:20 p.m. (NBC, Universo)
· New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3.5), 7:15 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN 2, ESPN Deportes)
CHECK OUT MAPS OF SUNDAY’S BROADCAST TV COVERAGE
The Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers do not play this week.
Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
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