The week in numbers: w/e 30/10/11

McIlroy walked away with a cheque for $2m (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

2,000,000 – In dollars, the prize collected by Rory McIlroy for winning the inaugural (and non-official) Shanghai Masters – $560,000 more than he earned for winning the US Open in June. McIlroy beat Anthony Kim in a sudden-death playoff after squandering a three-shot lead going into the final round.

16 – By setting the fastest time in qualifying for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel recorded Red Bull‘s 16th pole of 2011, a new record for one team in a single season.

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The week in numbers: w/e 9/10/11

Vettel confirmed his second F1 title, the youngest driver ever to do so (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

0.009 – In seconds, the gap by which Sebastian Vettel beat Jenson Button to pole position at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, equivalent to an estimated 69 centimetres.

24 – Despite finishing third behind Button, at the age of 24 years 99 days Vettel nonetheless became Formula 1‘s youngest double world champion, breaking Fernando Alonso’s record from 2006 (when he was 25).

3 – Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scored all three goals in the England under-21 team’s 3-0 win in Iceland.

13Nigeria, Cameroon and Egypt all failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations. They have won 13 of the previous 27 tournaments between them.

2Andy Murray won a tournament for the second straight week as he defeated Rafael Nadal in the final of the Japan Open 3-6 6-2 6-0.

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The week in numbers: w/e 25/9/11

Makau erased Gebreselassie's time from the record books

2:03:38 – Kenya’s Patrick Makau set a new world record time of 2:03:38 at the Berlin Marathon, taking 21 seconds off the previous record held by Haile Gebreselassie.

1Sebastian Vettel requires just one point from the last five Formula 1 races of the season to clinch his back-to-back world titles after he dominated the Singapore Grand Prix to record his ninth win of the season.

0 – Number of times a car other than a Red Bull has been on pole position during the 14 races of this F1 season. Vettel has 11 poles, Mark Webber three.

2  Owen Hargreaves made only his second competitive start in three years, and scored as Manchester City knocked holders Birmingham out of the Carling Cup 2-1.

3 – Arsenal Ladies completed the domestic treble with a 4-1 League Cup final win over Birmingham. It was their 37th trophy in 24 years.

Cavendish sprinted to victory to take the rainbow jersey (image courtesy of Graham Watson)

2Mark Cavendish won the men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships to become only the second British rider ever to win the event. Tom Simpson was the other, in 1965 – he went on to win BBC Sports Personality of the Year that year.

3 – Three of the four senior (elite) races at the Road World Championships were won by riders from the HTC-Highroad team (Cavendish, Tony Martin, Judith Arndt). In addition, all three riders on the men’s road race podium rode for the team in 2010: Cavendish and Matt Goss remain with HTC, while bronze medalist André Greipel moved to Omega Pharma-Lotto this year. The team is disbanding at the end of the season.

7 – The West Indies lost seven wickets for just 21 runs as they collapsed to 125 all out in their first Twenty20 match against England at the Oval. England romped to victory by ten wickets.

4 – Run outs in England‘s innings in the second Twenty20 match as they slumped to 88 all out – their lowest ever score in this form of the game – and allowed the West Indies to level the series 1-1.

4 – The European ladies’ golf team defeated the USA 15-13 to regain the Solheim Cup after three consecutive defeats. It was only the fourth time Europe have won the competition, which the USA leads 8-4.

80 – Age of Donald’ Ginger’ McCain, trainer of three-time Grand National winner Red Rum, who died last week.

The Premier League in numbers

100Robin van Persie scored his 99th and 100th goals for Arsenal in the 3-0 win over Bolton.

Walcott links up particularly well with van Persie (image courtesy of arsenal.com)

7Theo Walcott provided the assist for van Persie’s second goal. All seven of Walcott’s assists in 2011 have been for goals scored by van Persie.

43West Bromwich Albion‘s 0-0 draw with Fulham snapped a streak of 43 games since their previous goalless draw in a Premier League game.

63Chelsea‘s 4-1 win over Swansea extended their unbeaten streak against newly promoted sides to 63 games, dating back to 2001. They have won 56 of those 63 games.

27Manchester United opened the scoring in their 1-1 draw at Stoke with a 27th-minute goal by Nani. This was the third time in a row against Stoke that they have opened the scoring in the same minute.

6 – In scoring Stoke’s equaliser, Peter Crouch became only the sixth player to score for six different clubs in the Premier League. (The other five are Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand, Marcus Bent, Nicky Barmby and Craig Bellamy.)

9Queens Park Rangers‘ last-minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw against Aston Villa came courtesy of Richard Dunne‘s ninth Premier League own goal. He has two more than any other player.

The Rugby World Cup in numbers

9South Africa‘s 87-0 win over Namibia marked the ninth-biggest winning margin in a World Cup game and the third-highest score to nil.

14Namibia have now lost all 14 of their Rugby World Cup matches. No other side has lost as many without winning a single game.

Ashton's was one of two England hat-tricks against Romania (image courtesy of rugbyworldcup.com)

5Mark Cueto and Chris Ashton both scored hat-tricks in England’s 67-3 win over Romania – the fifth time more than one player has scored a hat-trick in the same World Cup match.

14 – Australia scored 11 tries in their 67-5 win over the USA, the 14th time they have crossed for ten or more tries in a match.

25New Zealand‘s 37-17 victory against France extended their unbeaten run at Auckland’s Eden Park to 25 matches. The last team to beat them there was France, in 1994.

2Argentina‘s 13-12 victory over Scotland was only the second game at this World Cup with fewer than ten points in the first half. The other was Argentina vs England.

The NFL in numbers

11 – 11 of Sunday’s 15 games were decided by seven points or fewer.

3 – Baltimore rookie Torrey Smith took his first three career receptions for touchdowns of 74, 41 and 18 yards, all in the first quarter of the Ravens’ 37-7 rout of the St Louis Rams. He finished with five catches for 152 yards.

18 – The Buffalo Bills became the first team in NFL history to win consecutive games in which they trailed by at least 18 points in each game, as they overcame a 21-0 deficit to beat the New England Patriots 34-31 on a field goal as time expired.

15Buffalo‘s victory ended a 15-game losing streak to the Patriots, dating back to 2003.

Brees has now thrown a TD pass in each of his last 30 games (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

4 – New Orelans’ Drew Brees became only the fourth player in NFL history to throw a touchdown pass in 30 consecutive games, joining Johnny Unitas (47), Brett Favre (36) and Dan Marino (30). The Saints outlasted the Houston Texans 40-33 in an offensive shootout.

20 – The Detroit Lions were outscored 20-0 in the first half by the Minnesota Vikings, but rallied to win 26-23 when Jason Hanson hit a 32-yard field goal in overtime.

1 – Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson became the first player ever to have at least two TD catches in each of his team’s first three games of the season. He had seven receptions for 108 yards, scoring from 32 and five yards.

553 – The Ravens accumulated 553 yards on offense, 406 of which came in the first half. Both marks were new franchise records.

3 – In a wild finish, the lead changed hands three times in the last 5½ minutes of the game as Pittsburgh beat Indianapolis 23-20.

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times, StatManJon, Infostrada, nfl.com and rugbyworldcup.com.)

The week in numbers: w/e 18/9/11

Djokovic improved his record against Nadal in 2011 to 6-0 in winning the US Open

6Novak Djokovic‘s 6-2 6-4 6-6 6-1 victory over Rafael Nadal in Monday’s US Open men’s singles final improved his 2011 record against the Spaniard to 6-0 and made him only the sixth man to win three Grand Slam singles titles in the same year, joining Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors, Mats Wilander, Roger Federer (three times) and Nadal.

97.0%Djokovic‘s win percentage in 2011, currently the best single-year record ever. He has lost just twice in 66 matches this year.

26Federer (12), Nadal (10) and Djokovic (four) have now won 26 of the last 27 Slams between them, dating back to the 2005 French Open. The only man to break the sequence is Juan Martín del Potro, who won the US Open in 2009.

77Lancashire won their first County Championship in 77 years after beating Somerset by eight wickets.

3AC Milan became only the third team in Champions League history to score in the first and last minutes, as they drew 2-2 at Barcelona. Alexandro Pato‘s opening goal after 24 seconds was the fifth-fastest in the history of the competition.

17 – Borussia Dortmund’s late equaliser in a 1-1 draw extended Arsenal‘s run of Champions League away games without a clean sheet to 17 games.

Giggs has now scored in 16 separate Champions League campaigns

16Ryan Giggs‘ goal for Manchester United in the 1-1 draw at Benfica means he has now scored in a record 16 of the 17 Champions League campaigns he has played in, failing only in 2007-08.

2Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake recorded the fastest times of 2011 in the 100 and 200 metres respectively at the Diamond League meeting in Brussels. Bolt clocked 9.76s in the 100 metres, while Blake’s 19.26s in the 200 metres was also the second-fastest run ever, 0.07s behind Bolt’s world record.

1Jonathan Trott became the first ever English cricketer to win the ICC Cricketer of the Year award outright. (Andrew Flintoff shared the award with Jacques Kallis in 2005.) Alastair Cook also won Test Player of the Year.

8Barcelona‘s 8-0 win over Osasuna in La Liga on Saturday night marked the first time they had scored eight times in a game at the Camp Nou since October 2003. Lionel Messi scored a hat-trick.

3 – The HTC-Highroad pair of Mark Cavendish and Mark Renshaw recorded three one-two wins during the Tour of Britain‘s eight stages. Cavendish won the final sprint in London to claim his second stage. Dutchman Lars Boom won the overall race by 36 seconds.

58:56 – Kenya’s Martin Mathathi broke the men’s record for the Great North Run, winning in a time of 58:56 – nine seconds faster than the previous record and the sixth-best half-marathon time ever.

The Premier League in numbers

3 – All three promoted sides won on Saturday: Swansea beat West Bromwich Albion 3-0, while QPR and Norwich won 3-0 at Wolves and 2-1 at Bolton respectively.

Arteta has scored for both Everton and Arsenal at Ewood Park this season (image courtesy of arsenal.com)

2Mikel Arteta‘s goal in Arsenal’s 4-3 defeat at Blackburn marked the second time he has scored in the Premier League at Ewood Park this season. He had already scored the only goal when Everton won 1-0 in August.

3 – Shots on target by Blackburn, who scored four goals.

373 – Scott Sinclair’s 14th-minute opener for Swansea was their first Premier League goal, ending a run of 373 minutes without scoring.

5Bolton‘s 2-1 defeat at home to Norwich means they have lost five consecutive top-flight home matches for the first time ever.

5Norwich equalled Wimbledon’s feat (in the 1999-2000 season) of conceding a penalty in each of the first five games of a season.

14Liverpool‘s 4-0 defeat at Tottenham, in which they finished with just nine men, was the 14th consecutive away game in which they have gone on to lose after trailing at half-time.

4Stoke‘s 4-0 defeat at Sunderland means they have failed to score in their four Premier League visits to the Stadium of Light.

5Wayne Rooney became only the second player to score in each of first five matches of a season, scoring the last of Manchester United’s goals in the 3-1 win over Chelsea. Former Arsenal player José Antonio Reyes was the first to achieve the feat, in 2004/05.

6Martin Jol remains unbeaten as a manager against Manchester City as Fulham recovered from two goals down to draw 2-2. However, the draw did end his perfect record of six wins out of six against City prior to yesterday’s game.

1 – Four of the five teams who started the weekend winless – Blackburn, Swansea, Sunderland, Norwich – won their matches. Only Fulham remain waiting for their first victory.

The Rugby World Cup in numbers

11 – Penalties committed by England in an ill-disciplined first half of their 41-10 win over Georgia. They conceded just three after the interval.

Shaw became England's oldest ever World Cup player

38 – At 38 years and 17 days, Simon Shaw became the oldest player to play for England at a Rugby World Cup.

0 – Number of tries scored in Scotland‘s 15-6 win over Romania.

1Russia lost 13-6 to the USA in their debut World Cup match, as Mike Petri scored the only try in the first half. It was also only the third ever win in the competition for the USA.

83New Zealand‘s 83 points in their 83-7 win over Japan was the 14th highest score in Rugby World Cup history. In total, they have posted six of the top 14 individual scores.

3Australia‘s 15-6 defeat to Ireland was only the third time they had failed to score a try in their 36 World Cup matches.

6South Africa and Argentina both scored six tries from six different players as they beat Fiji 49-3 and Romania 43-8 respectively.

The NFL in numbers

11 – New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady became only the 11th man to pass for over 500 yards in a single game as he registered 517 yards and four touchdown passes in a 38-24 Monday night win over the Miami Dolphins. One of Brady’s four touchdown passes was a 99-yarder to Wes Welker, a former Dolphin.

358 – However Brady did throw one interception, ending his NFL record streak without an interception at 358 pass attempts.

Janikowski tied the NFL record with a towering 63-yard FG (image courtesy of raiders.com)

63 – The Oakland Raiders’ Sebastian Janikowski tied the NFL record by kicking a 63-yard field goal in their 23-20 win over the Denver Broncos. New Orleans’ Tom Dempsey (in 1970) and Denver’s Jason Elam (1998) also landed 63-yarders.

5 – The Buffalo Bills scored on all five second half possessions as they overcame a 21-3 half-time deficit to beat the Oakland Raiders 38-35. The lead changed hands five times in the last 14:10, the last on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to David Nelson with 14 seconds remaining.

45 – The Detroit Lions‘ margin of victory in their 48-3 win over the Kansas City Chiefs was the largest in the team’s history.

16Santonio Holmes‘ first quarter score in the New York Jets‘ 32-3 win over Jacksonville broke his team’s streak of 16 consecutive games without an offensive touchdown in the opening period.

11 – Rookie running back Ben Tate became only the 11th player in NFL history to rush for at least 100 yards in his first two games as the Houston Texans defeated the Miami Dolphins 23-13. Tate gained 107 yards on the ground.

7 – Both Carolina Panthers rookie Cam Newton and New England’s Tom Brady had their second consecutive 400-yard passing days, becoming only the sixth and seventh quarterbacks ever to achieve the feat. Carolina have lost both games (they lost 30-23 to the Green Bay Packers last night); New England have won both (they beat San Diego 35-21).

(Some statistics courtesy of Opta Sports, The Times, StatManJon, Infostrada, nfl.com and rugbyworldcup.com.)

Top 12 comebacks in sport (part 1 of 4)

In the wake of Newcastle’s remarkable recovery from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 with Arsenal last Saturday, many have called it the greatest comeback in the history of the Premier League. But is it the greatest comeback in sport?

In my eyes, it doesn’t even close. To demonstrate this, I have listed a personal list of the top 12 sporting comebacks from my lifetime, dating back to 1970. These have been ranked according to a number of criteria: the scale and implausibility of the recovery, its competitive context (e.g. a Champions League final ranks above a Carling Cup third round game) and its enduring impact on the memory of sports fans.

On that basis, the Newcastle comeback misses my top 12 by a distance. Indeed, it doesn’t even rank as the greatest recovery from 4-0 down in a football match. That honour would go to the opening game of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations0 when hosts Angola, leading 4-0 with 11 minutes remaining, allowed Mali to battle back for a draw courtesy of a 94th-minute equaliser.

Anyway, on with part one of my list, covering numbers 12-10.

12. FA Cup fourth round replay, 2004 – Tottenham 3 Manchester City 4

Midway through this game, Spurs already had their eye on a fifth-round clash with Manchester United, and understandably so. They led 3-0 at home, and Manchester City had just had Joey Barton sent off for dissent after the half-time whistle.

But against the odds and any rational explanation, ten-man City came roaring back. An early Sylvain Distin header gave them hope, and a deflected Paul Bosvelt shot in the 69th minute brought them back to 3-2. When Shaun Wright-Phillips equalised with ten minutes left, it looked like we were heading for extra time, but in the final minute a Jon Macken header completed this most improbable of turnarounds.

11. Olympic 10,000 metres final, 1972

Perhaps the greatest achievement of Lasse Virén, the ‘Flying Finn’, came after he was sent tumbling to earth.

During the Olympic 10,000 metres final in Munich, Virén fell on lap 12 (of 25) after a tangle of legs with Belgium’s Emiel Puttemans. He lost maybe 25 metres in the fall, but quickly recovered his position in the pack. With 600 metres to go, Virén kicked for home and dropped everyone except Puttemans. He strolled to victory by more than a second to clinch not only the gold medal but also a new world record of 27:38.35.

Virén became only the fourth man to do the double of winning the 5,000 and 10,000 metres at the same Olympics. He repeated the feat in Montreal in 1976.

10. AFC Wild-Card playoff, 1993 – Buffalo Bills 41 Houston Oilers 38 (in overtime)

In NFL circles, it is referred to simply as ‘The Comeback’. Trailing 35-3 early in the third quarter, the Buffalo Bills were facing an early and ignominious playoff exit at home to the Houston Oilers, prompting one Houston radio announcer to declare:

The lights are on here at Rich Stadium. They’ve been on since this morning. You could pretty much turn them out on the Bills right now.

What made the subsequent comeback doubly remarkable was that it was engineered without the Bills’ two biggest offensive stars, quarterback Jim Kelly and running back Thurman Thomas. In a blistering seven-minute spell, Thomas’s replacement Kenneth Davis set the ball rolling with a short scoring run, and backup quarterback Frank Reich threw touchdown passes on three consecutive possessions to reduce the deficit to 35-31.

Buffalo even went ahead with three minutes remaining, as Reich hit Andre Reed for his third touchdown of the game, but a late Houston field goal forced an overtime period. Houston received the ball first, but an interception set up Steve Christie to land the winning kick and complete what remains the biggest comeback win in NFL history.

The Bills went on to reach their third of four consecutive Super Bowls – all of which they lost.

In part two, I will look at numbers nine to seven, covering three different sports.

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