99 Stats Until Kickoff (#40) A rookie TD in the team’s first game of the season

From May 30 and every day until September 5… the start of the 2013 NFL season… Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ will publish “99 Stats Until Kickoff” a daily dose of NFL stats that will get you ready for the 2013 NFL season.)

Last season four rookies scored a touchdown in their team’s first game of the year. The four:

  • Chicago’s Alshon Jeffery scored a TD on a pass reception on September 9
  • The New York Jets’ Stephen Hill scored on two pass receptions on September 9
  • Washington’s Alfred Morris scored on a pair of rushing plays on September 9
  • Oakland’s Rod Streater scored on a TD pass reception on September 10

Since 1966 (the beginning of the Super Bowl era), there have been 252 rookies that scored a touchdown in their team’s first game of the season, an average of 5.4 per season. Most in a season was in 1969 when 11 different rookies scored a TD in their team’s first game of the season. That group included O.J. Simpson and Roger Staubach.

In looking at stats from the past 47 seasons in the NFL, having a rookie score a touchdown in their team’s first game of the year has proven to be a good omen for those teams: They have won 153, lost 76 and tied three in those games, a .613 winning percentage.

Since 1966, the Atlanta Falcons had 14 different rookies score a TD in the team’s opening game of a season. Following are the number of times it has happened for each team in the last 47 seasons.

Rookies with a TD in the opening game (since 1966), Teams

14: Atlanta
13: Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Giants
12: Oakland
11: Indianapolis, Tennessee
10: New England, San Diego
9: Buffalo, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay
8: Dallas, Miami, Washington
7: Arizona, Chicago, San Francisco
5: Cincinnati, Cleveland, New York Jets, Seattle
4: Philadelphia
3: Baltimore, Carolina, Green Bay
2: Jacksonville, St. Louis
1: Houston

Three different teams have not had a rookie score a TD in their opening game this century. The longest drought is in Philadelphia where an Eagles rookie has not scored a TD in the opening game since 1993. Atlanta has not had a rookie score in the first game since 1998, while the Rams have not had one score since 1999.

One final note: Thirteen different members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame scored a touchdown as a rookie in their team’s first game of their rookie season (since the 1966 season). The 17 are: Marcus Allen, Lem Barney, Earl Campbell, Marshall Faulk, Michael Irvin, Curtis Martin, Ozzie Newsome, Barry Sanders, Deion Sanders, O.J. Simpson, Roger Staubach, Lynn Swann, Thurman Thomas.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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