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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
13: Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, New Orleans, New York Giants
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
3: Baltimore, Carolina, Green Bay
2: Jacksonville, St. Louis
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.
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