We’ve had Mr. October (Reggie Jackson). And we had Mr. November (Derek Jeter). And if we want to stay on the New York Yankees theme, we also had Mr. April (Dave Winfield). Thank you for that one, Mr. Steinbrenner.
In the NFL, we have the Green Bay Packers, a team with the championship history and gravitas of baseball’s Yankees. And move over, Reggie and Captain Jetes, because Titletown, USA has Mr. Sunday Night.
You can make a pretty strong case that Davante Adams is the best wide receiver in the league. But that case becomes absolutely rock solid if you’ve waited all day for Sunday night.
On this most recent Sunday night, the Packers hosted the bumbling Chicago Bears. And for the 11th straight time he’s suited up on the Sunday Night stage, Adams and the end zone fit perfectly together like Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth. Adams scored twice in the 45-30 victory over the Bears, giving him at least one touchdown in 11 straight Sunday night games.
Adams has owned the Sunday Night game for five seasons (and counting)
The streak began quite auspiciously on New Year’s Day, 2017. Once upon a time, the Detroit Lions were a competitive football team, and the league designated the Packers-Lions game in Week 17 to be the final game played in the regular season on Sunday Night Football. At stake was the NFC North division title and a home game in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
The Packers won that night, and Adams played a huge role, scoring a pair of touchdowns, including one with 2:50 left to put the game out of reach. And thus began the Sunday night touchdown streak.
Twice in the 2017 season, three times in ’18, once in ’19, twice last year, and twice so far this season, the Packers have played in the Sunday night game with Adams on the active roster, and in all 11 of those games, Adams has scored at least one touchdown.
Three times during this stretch, Adams missed the Sunday Night game, either because of injury or being held out of the last game of the season with the playoffs clinched. But those don’t count against his streak.
The Packers also played in a Thursday night season-kickoff game in Sept. 2019 against the same Bears, and Adams failed to find the end zone. But last we checked, Thursday is not Sunday, no matter the broadcast consisting of the NBC Sunday Night crew. So, Adams gets a (non-weekend) pass.
It took a while for Adams to get going, but when he did, he got hot in a hurry
The first few games of the streak were notable pretty much only because Adams scored a touchdown. In the first eight games of the streak, Adams failed to reach 100 yards, although he did get to 99 yards in Game 2 of the streak in Sept. 2017.
Here are his catches-yards-touchdowns from the first eight games of the streak:
- Jan. 1, 2017: 6-31-2
- Sept. 17, 2017: 8-99-1
- Nov. 26, 2017: 5-82-1
- Dec. 23, 2017: Inactive
- Sept. 9, 2018: 5-88-1
- Nov. 4, 2018: 6-40-1
- Nov. 25, 2018: 5-69-1
- Sept. 5, 2019: Thursday night 4-36-0
- Oct. 27, 2019: Inactive
- Nov. 24, 2019: 7-43-1
- Sept. 27, 2020: Inactive
- Nov. 29, 2020: 6-61-1
But starting with the second-to-last regular-season game of the 2020 season, the Packers have appeared on SNF three times and Adams has absolutely dominated. Adams had nine touchdowns over the first eight games of the streak. In the past three, Adams has six touchdowns and has gone over 100 yards in all three games by sizable margins.
Adams is now the only player in the NFL since 1950 with seven games totaling at least 10 catches, 120 yards, and two touchdowns in the same game. Two of those seven games have come in the previous three Sunday Night appearances. Here are his catches-yards-TDs in the three most recent Sunday night games.
- Dec. 27, 2020: 11-143-3
- Sept. 26, 2021: 12-132-1
- Dec. 12, 2021: 10-121-2
And like the streak itself, Adams didn’t really get going until late in the first half. With Adams not doing much for most of the first half, Collinsworth speculated that a hamstring injury that cropped up during the week before Sunday’s game had rendered him a decoy against the Bears. But with a minute to go in the first half, Adams finally struck.
The Packers needed every bit of Adams’ dominance to stay in the NFC top seed race
The Packers, who entered Week 14 trailing the Arizona Cardinals by a game in the NFC standings for the coveted first-round bye, found themselves uncharacteristically trailing the lowly Bears for the entire first half Sunday night. And when the Packers got the ball with 1:32 left in the half, trailing 24-14, Adams had just one catch for 12 yards.
But that all began to change in a hurry. After making a short reception early in the drive, Adams ended it in spectacular fashion, extending his Sunday night touchdown streak with a 38-yard reception from Aaron Rodgers, eluding two defenders to find the end zone and cutting the deficit to three points.
The Packers would not look back, taking the lead for good with two quick touchdowns early in the third quarter, then salting the game away with Adams’ second touchdown late in the fourth quarter for a 45-27 lead.
Adams finished the game with 10 catches for 121 yards and two scores. His next chance to extend his streak is currently scheduled for Week 17 at home against the Vikings on Jan. 2. At this point, the only thing that can stop Adams is the NFL flexing the game to the afternoon.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference