THE LAST TIME: A FRANCHISE FEATURED A 200 YARD RECEIVER IN A SINGLE GAME PART II

DeSean Jackson

Yesterday we got to see the first 16 teams that have had the most recent 200 yard games by a receiver. Eight teams had its “Last Time” in 2014. The other eight teams featured yesterday were spread out over three seasons from 2013 back through 2011.

The second half of our countdown begins in the 2010 season and goes all the way back…to 1965. Which team has not had an individual game with a 200 yard receiver in 49 years? Read on to find out.

17: 67 Games – Philadelphia Eagles. DeSean Jackson (above) blew through the Dallas Cowboys defense December 12, 2010 with 210 yards in only four catches. Jackson grabbed a 60 yarder on the first play of the game, a 37 yard catch in the second quarter, a reception good for another 22 yards in the third quarter and then broke an intermediate route for a 91 yard touchdown to give the Eagles the lead for good in the final quarter. Philly won 30-27. For Jackson it was his fourth game over 100 yards in 2010 and helped him to record his second 1,000 yard season.

Britt-Eagles18: 73 Games – Tennessee Titans. Second year receiver Kenny Britt was open and had the Philadelphia Eagles’ number October 24, 2010. Britt caught seven passes for 225 yards and three touchdowns of 26, 80 and 16 yards. The last two scores were part of a 27 point fourth quarter barrage that gave the Titans a 37-19 win after trailing 19-10 going into the final stanza. For Britt it was his first game over 100 yards for the season and his first and only career 200 yard game. He finished the year with a career high 775 yards.

Malcom Floyd, Stanford Routt19: 75 Games – San Diego Chargers. At 6’5″ Malcolm Floyd could get the extra reach he needed to grab eight passes for 213 yards and a 41 yard touchdown October 10, 2010 vs. the Oakland Raiders. That’s right on 10/10/10 of his sixth season in the NFL, Floyd registered just his third career triple digit game and first of the season. The Raiders ended up pulling out the win scoring the final 13 points of the 35-27 victory. The most yards Malcolm Floyd has gained in a game since, 127 yards against…you guessed it the Raiders 01/01/12. Floyd has a thing for the zeros and ones, and the Raiders. He has never had a 1,000 yard season.

Sidney Rice20: 87 Games – Minnesota Vikings. It was Brett Favre’s first season in Minnesota and his favorite target for the year was receiver Sidney Rice. In a match-up with division foe Detroit November 15, 2009 Rice nabbed seven passes for 201 yards. And even though he never reached the end zone five of his catches went for 20 or more yards and three were good for 43, 43 and 56. The Vikings won the game 27-10. Rice was an absolute burner for Favre in what became a career year for the oft-injured receiver. Rice had never recorded a 100 yard game until ’09 and finished the year with four triple digit performances on his way to 1,312 yards in his only Pro Bowl season.

Lee Evans21: 134 Games – Buffalo Bills. We drift a little further back to find the last time for the Bills. Back to November 19, 2006 and Lee Evans setting a franchise record 265 yards against the Houston Texans. Evans exploded out of the gate and showed the Texans that they must respect his speed recording two 83 yard touchdowns in the first quarter. Evans became only the fourth player in NFL history to record two touchdowns of 80 yards or more in the same quarter. He was the first (and so far only) to have both by receptions. Evans enjoyed a career year in 2006 with 1,292 yards.

Steve Smith22: 154 Games – Carolina Panthers. Steve Smith had a great career in Carolina and can be easily argued as the best player in franchise history. Smith is also the only player to register a 200 yard receiving game in Panthers history. It occurred October 30, 2005 in a game against the Minnesota Vikings. For Smith it was a comeback year after missing most of 2004 with an injury. It was his fifth (of nine) 100 yard games of the season and just barely squeaking over the two century mark with his final catch, a six yarder in the fourth, to finish with 11 catches for 201 yards and one TD. Smith led the league in ’05 with 103 receptions for 1,563 yards and 12 touchdowns.

St Louis Rams v New York Giants23: 156 Games – New York Giants. Just two games prior to the Panthers “Last Time” for a 200 yard receiver was the Giants “Last Time”. October 2, 2005 Plaxico Burress beat up a struggling St. Louis Rams squad with 11 catches for 204 yards and two touchdowns. The Giants dominated the game winning 44-24 as the Rams committed five turnovers in what turned out to be Marshall Faulk’s final season. Burress became a big reliable target for Eli Manning as Plax finished his first season in The Big Apple with 1,214 yards.

Torry Holt24: 184 Games – St. Louis Rams. And speaking of the Rams, the much traveled franchise is next up on the list. For a team that has had the most individual 200 yard receiving games (16) of any team in the NFL, it hasn’t had such a performance since Torry Holt November 2, 2003. Holt torched the San Francisco 49ers with 11 grabs for 200 yards and a touchdown. The 49ers came out with the win 30-10 at home giving the Rams one of only four losses that year. For Holt, it was his second career 200 yard game and came right smack in the middle of a career season. Holt finished 2003 with ten 100 yard games on his way to leading the NFL with 117 catches for 1,696 which was at the time the fifth highest single season total in NFL History.

Anquan Boldin25: 191 Games – Arizona Cardinals. Anquan Boldin was the last receiver for the 49ers to have a 200 yard game and the same is true for his first team the Arizona Cardinals. This game was almost 10 years to the day earlier September 7, 2003 and it was his first game as a rookie for the Cards. Boldin began his career with a bruising explosion against the Detroit Lions with 10 catches for 217 yards and touchdowns of 7 and 71 yards. Despite the physical beat down from the rookie receiver, Joey Harrington threw four touchdown passes (his career best) as the Lions got the win 42-24. Boldin went on to finish the year with a rookie record 101 catches for 1,377 yards on his way to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Plaxico Burress26: 200 Games – Pittsburgh Steelers. We just saw Anquan Boldin appear on this list for a second time and now so will Plaxico Burress. Just three years prior to having the last 200 yard game for the Giants, Burress did the same for Pittsburgh. November 10, 2002 Burress set a franchise record with 253 yards on nine catches and two scores in a game that ended in a 34-34 tie against the Atlanta Falcons. Plax finished the season with personal bests of 78 receptions for 1,325 yards.

Rod Gardner27: 218 Games – Washington Redskins. Drifting back to one year earlier is where you will find the “Last Time” the Redskins featured a game with a 200 yard receiving performance. Rookie Rod Gardner was the man of the day October 21, 2001 against the Carolina Panthers with 6 catches for 208 yards and the game tying 85 yard touchdown catch from Tony Banks in the fourth. Washington would get the win with a field goal in OT. For Gardner it was his only triple digit yard game of the season as he finished the year with 741 yards.

Qadry Ismail28: 243 Games – Baltimore Ravens. For Baltimore and its new found history in the ’90s, it didn’t take long to get its first 200 yard receiving performance. But it would also be its last. December 12, 1999 with Qadry Ismail in a late season match-up against heated rival Pittsburgh. Ismail displayed the speed that gave him the nickname “The Missile” and helped propel him to a career renaissance as a receiver. He grabbed six passes for 258 yards and scores of 54, 59 and 76 yards as the Ravens won 31-24. After not catching a pass for two seasons, Ismail led Baltimore with 68 receptions for 1,105 yards and six touchdowns.

Torrance Small29: 320 Games – New Orleans Saints. In the previous chapter of the “Last Time” we saw that the “Last Time” the Broncos allowed a 200 yard receiver was to Torrance Small of the Saints in 1994. Well that just also happens to be the “Last Time” the Saints have featured a 200 yard receiver. Even with Drew Brees and his 5,000 yard passing seasons, no Saints player has eclipsed the two century mark in a game since Christmas Eve of 1994. Torrance Small caught six passes for 200 yards and two scores from the blazing arm of Jim Everett. The Saints won the tight ball game 30-28. Small never had a 1,000 yard season but he did set a career high with 719 yards in 1994.

PaigeStephone330: 398 Games – Kansas City Chiefs. Stephone Paige was no stranger to gaining a lot of yards in a game. In 1985 Paige broke Jim Benton’s 40 year old record when he gained 309 yards in a game against the Chargers. Five years later September 17, 1990 Paige went over 200 for the second time in his career with 10 catches for 206 yards and two scores against the Denver Broncos. His touchdowns of 16 and 83 yards came in the fourth quarter to give the Chiefs a two point lead. However, John Elway took Denver right back down the field to get the winning field goal from David Treadwell. 1990 was Paige’s first 1,000 yard season (1,021) and it would be his last as injuries forced him to miss 13 games in 1991 and then he retired.

Steve Largent31: 442 Games – Seattle Seahawks. Next up is a team that spent many years in the AFC West with the Chiefs. Seattle’s first and last 200 yard individual receiving performance came from Hall of Famer Steve Largent October 18, 1987. Against the Detroit Lions, Largent crossed the NFL Players Picket Line and showed the replacement players why he was a Hall of Famer and one of the best receivers of All-Time. Catching passes from Jeff Kemp, Largent grabbed 15 receptions for a franchise record 261 yards and three first quarter touchdowns. Seattle dominated the final strike game 37-14.
Art Powell vs Oilers32: 761 Games – Oakland Raiders. And now we hit the way-way back machine as another team from the AFC West rounds out the list. For the Raiders who have had a history of speed on the outside and Al Davis in the background yelling “Let’s go deep,” Oakland has not had an individual player with a 200 yard game since the Old AFL days October 8, 1965 from Art Powell. Two years earlier, Powell became the first Raider to record a 200 yard game with 247 in a shootout victory over the Houston Oilers. This time it was a game against the Boston Patriots and Powell finished with 11 catches for 206 yards and two touchdowns as the Raiders won 24-10. Powell caught a 47 yard touchdown from Tom Flores for the first score of the game. The man nicknamed “King Pin” was an AFL star. Five 1,000 yard seasons splitting time between the New York Titans (later the Jets) and the Raiders, he led the league twice in receiving yards and touchdowns and was voted to four Pro Bowls and twice named an All-Pro. At the time of his retirement in 1968 only Don Maynard had more career yards in the AFL.

Art Powell diving

Art Powell showing off his reach

Hard to believe that the Raiders have not had a 200 yard receiver in a single game since 1965. Even with players like Fred Biletnikoff, Cliff Branch, Todd Christiansen, James Lofton, Willie Gault, James Jett, Andre Rison, Tim Brown and Jerry Rice in the franchise listing of greats no one has done it since Art Powell almost 50 years ago.

Can the Raiders get a great performance this season? Or maybe the Seahawks will finally get a non-strike game for its group. The Chiefs could also remind everyone that last season was a fluke with no wide out catching a touchdown pass and also get that big game yardage for the first time in a quarter century. Or quite possibly one of the teams at the top of the list just might roll it over and start counting again.

Who knows. But that is part of the fun of watching and waiting to see history happen.

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The Last Time: A Franchise Featured a 200 Yard Receiver in a Single Game Part I

Eric Decker had the most recent 200 yard receiving game.

Eric Decker had the most recent 200 yard receiving game.

Good morning football fans. Time for another chapter in the series “The Last Time”. In keeping with the theme of the first edition of “The Last Time” now we get to see the last time that each franchise featured its own 200 yard single game receiver. The order will be from the most recent to the ones that have gone a few decades. You may be surprised at some of the teams that have not had a 200 yard receiver in a very long time.

So, let us begin with the first 16 teams. Where does your favorite team rank?

1: 0 Games – New York Jets. Eric Decker hit the 200 yard mark in the final game of the season with 10 receptions for 221 yards and a score. The Jets defeated the Miami Dolphins 37-24 to finish the season 4-12. Decker scored his only touchdown of the game, a 74 yard bomb, in the third to take the 10 point Miami lead down to three. For Decker, it was his second 100 yard game of the season (the first was two weeks prior) and he ended the year 38 yards short of his third straight 1,000 yard season.

Julio JonesT2: 3 Games – Atlanta Falcons. Julio Jones went wild over the Green Bay Packers during a Monday Night slug fest December 8th that Atlanta lost 43-37. The first half was dominated by the Packers but Atlanta came roaring back after being down 31-7 at halftime. Jones led all receivers with 11 catches for 259 yards and a 22 yard touchdown to start the fourth quarter and reduce the Green Bay lead to 10. For Jones, it was his sixth of seven 100 yard games during 2014 as he finished third in the league with 1,593 yards.

A.J. GreenT2: 3 Games – Cincinnati Bengals. A.J. Green hit the two century mark for the first time in his career in a 42-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday December 7th. Green grabbed 11 passes for 224 yards and scored on an 81 yard toss in the third quarter that gave Cincy a 21-17 lead. The Steelers rattled off 25 straight points in the fourth to get the victory. It was Green’s fifth 100 yard game of the season and helped him to reach 1,000 yards for the fourth straight year despite missing three games.

DeAndre Hopkins4: 4 Games – Houston Texans. DeAndre Hopkins became only the second Texan to gain 200 yards receiving in a game back in the 12th match-up of 2014, November 30th in a 45-21 win over the Tennessee Titans. The youngster caught nine passes for 238 yards and scored twice on plays of 58 and 34 yards. It was his fourth 100 yard game of the year and helped Hopkins reach a career high of 1,210 yards. 208 more than his previous (and rookie) year.

Mike Evans5: 6 Games – Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rookie Mike Evans continued his domination in the Bucs 10th game of 2014, November 16th in a 27-7 victory over the Washington Redskins. Evans ended the game with seven receptions for 209 yards and two scores. His touchdowns showed his incredible ability scoring on 36 and 56 yard plays in the third and fourth quarters to help give the lead for good to Tampa. It was the third consecutive 100 yard game for the rookie as he ended the season with 1,051 yards to lead the Buccaneers.

T.Y. Hilton6: 10 Games – Indianapolis Colts. The blazing speed of T.Y. Hilton was on full display Thursday Night in week six of 2014 in a 33-28 win over the Houston Texans. Nine catches for 223 yards and a 33 yard third quarter touchdown helped put the Colts ahead for good and improved Indy to 4-2 for the year. For Hilton it was his second of six 100 yard games in 2014 and his first career game over 200. Hilton finished the season with a career high 1,345 yards averaging 16.4 per catch.

Demaryius Thomas7: 12 Games – Denver Broncos. Demaryius Thomas got off to a slow start in 2014 with 13 catches for 141 yards and a score through the first three games, but then exploded on the Arizona Cardinals October 5th. Thomas grabbed eight passes for 226 yards and scored twice on plays of 31 and 86 yards in the second quarter on the way to a 41-20 win. It was the first of seven straight 100 yard games (10 in all for ’14). Thomas ended the season with career highs with 111 catches and 1,619 yards which was second in the NFL.

Jordy Nelson8: 14 Games – Green Bay Packers. Jordy Nelson got the barrage of 200 yard games for 2014 started in the second week, September 14th in a 31-24 win over the New York Jets. Nelson had eight catches for 129 yards before catching an 80 yard bomb from Aaron Rodgers to give Green Bay the win and put Nelson over 200 yards for the first time in his career. It was Nelson’s first 100 yard game of seven for the year. All Packer wins. Nelson ended the year with career highs 98 catches for 1,519 yards.

Alshon JefferyT9: 20 games – Chicago Bears. December 1st of 2013, Alshon Jeffery hit the two century mark for the second time of the season in a 23-20 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Jeffery had a career day with 12 receptions for 249 yards and scoring plays of 80 and 46 yards. The second year wideout ended 2013 with five games over 100 yards with two over 200. Jeffery finished the season with 1,421 yards.

Josh GordonT9: 20 Games – Cleveland Browns. The same day that Jeffery had his second 200 yard game of 2013, so did Josh Gordon. Gordon exploded in 2013 despite the fact the Browns kept losing. In two consecutive weeks Gordon eclipsed 200 yards first in a 27-11 loss to Pittsburgh and then a 32-28 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Gordon grabbed 10 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns of 21 and 95 yards. Despite missing two games for suspension, Gordon registered seven 100 yard games and led the league with 1,646 yards.

Calvin Johnson11: 24 Games – Detroit Lions. Over a three season span from 2011 to 2013, Calvin Johnson’s name became synonymous with a 200 yard game. Five times in 46 games Johnson destroyed opposing defenses. The last one came in a narrow 31-30 win over the Dallas Cowboys October 27, 2013. Johnson ended the game with 10 grabs for an almost record 329 yards and one score. Even though Megatron wasn’t the one getting into the end zone he kept coming up with the big play to keep the Lions going. Over the three year span of ’11 through ’13 Johnson gained 5,137 yards. An NFL record for three seasons.

Anquan Boldin12: 31 Games – San Francisco 49ers. Anquan Boldin opened up the season in his first game with the 49ers the same way he opened his career back in 2003 with the Arizona Cardinals with a 200 yard game. September 8, 2013 Boldin was the workhorse on offense for San Fran with 13 catches for 208 yards and a 10 yard touchdown in a 34-28 victory over the Green Bay Packers. Boldin ended the season with his sixth 1,000 yard season (now has seven) and his first since 2009 his final year in Arizona.

Dez Bryant13: 33 Games – Dallas Cowboys. We go back to the end of the 2012 season December 23rd as Dez Bryant dominated the New Orleans Saints with nine receptions for 224 yards and two touchdowns. But it was Drew Brees who got the final say in a 34-31 overtime loss for the Cowboys in a game that featured a combined seven touchdown passes. For Bryant it was his fifth 100 yard game of the season and first career 200 yard game.

Justin Blackmon14: 38 Games – Jacksonville Jaguars. Another young receiver was beginning to make his mark in 2012 as Justin Blackmon went off on the Houston Texans November 18th. Blackmon caught seven passes for 236 yards with an 81 yard score. But the Texans would get the win in OT 43-37. For Blackmon it was his first and only game over 100 yards during his rookie campaign. Unfortunately for Jacksonville it would only get two more games over 100 yards in 2013 before suspensions led to a flame out of an amazing talent. Blackmon has not played since October 27, 2013.

Miami Dolphins v Arizona Cardinals15: 44 Games – Miami Dolphins. September 30, 2012 Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline gave rookie QB Ryan Tannehill a reliable target who was open all day. Hartline snagged 12 passes for 253 yards with an 80 yard TD grab in the fourth quarter to give Miami the lead. Arizona tied the game with 22 seconds remaining and pulled out a 24-21 win in overtime. Despite the loss it was a career day for both Hartline and Tannehill. That game is still the only time that Tannehill has passed for over 400 yards (431). and remains the only 200 yard game of Hartline’s career.

Wes Welker16: 61 Games – New England Patriots. Even with The Gronk and Tom Brady’s ability to throw receivers open, the Patriots have not had a receiver over 200 yards since September 25, 2011 with Wes Welker in a 34-31 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Welker caught 16 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. The Bills scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to grab the win. It was the 12th time that Welker finished a game with 10+ receptions but his first 200 yard game. Wes ended 2011 with his fourth (of now five) 100 reception seasons and a career high 1,569 yards.

Stay tuned as teams 17-32 will be featured next.

From the Heisman, to 1st Overall in the Draft & to Canton

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015

We have hit that point in the year where summer is just getting started, the NBA and NHL seasons are done, Major League Baseball is nearing the midway point and the NFL has finished up its OTA’s and we await the beginning of Training Camp. During the football doldrums, I thought this would be a great time to start looking into more football history to get everyone ready for another great NFL season.

To me the official kickoff of football has always been the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductions the first Saturday in August. This year EIGHT more of the NFL’s Greatest of All-Time will be given their moment as they pass into pro football immortality in the hallowed halls of Canton, Ohio. Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Bill Polian, Junior Seau, Will Shields, Mick Tingelhoff and Ron Wolf join the greats of the past to bring the total number in the Hall of Fame to 295.

Tim Brown HeismanTim Brown joins an exclusive group as one of only now nine players that have won the Heisman Trophy and been inducted into Canton. Tim Brown shares this distinction with Doak Walker (Heisman 1948 & Hall of Fame Class of 1986), Paul Hornung (1956 & Class of 1986), Roger Staubach (1963 & Class of 1985), O.J. Simpson (1968 & Class of 1985), Tony Dorsett (1976 & Class of 1994), Earl Campbell (1977 & Class of 1991), Marcus Allen (1981 & Class of 2003) & Barry Sanders (1988 & Class 2004).

However there is an even more exclusive club then this one involving Heisman winners and Hall of Famers.

There are only three players in the history of football who have won the Heisman Trophy, been drafted 1st overall and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The owners of this trifecta: Paul Hornung, O.J. Simpson and Earl Campbell.

Paul-Hornung-with-Heisman-Trophy-1956Paul Hornung was the Golden Boy for the Golden Domers and the Green Bay Packers. Hornung had first been a backup Fullback in South Bend and then exploded his next two seasons showing off his versatility. Playing as a halfback and safety in 1955 as a junior Hornung finished in the top five in the nation in total yards of offense and helped win a couple games almost single handed. As a senior he made the move to paul-hornung notre dameQuarterback and led the Fighting Irish in passing, rushing, scoring, kickoff and punt returns and punting. On the defensive side he led Notre Dame in passes defensed, was second in interceptions and tackles. At the end of the year in 1956 the Golden Boy became the first player to win the Heisman from a losing a team as Notre Dame went 2-8 that year. With this resume and playing for Curly Lambeau in the 1957 College All-Star game, the lowly Green Bay packers selected the blonde kid from Louisville, Kentucky 1st overall in the 1957 draft. It got worse before it got

Hornung's 1957 Rookie Card

Hornung’s 1957 Rookie Card

better for Green Bay, even with the Golden Boy. The Packers were 3-9 in 1957 and 1-10-1 in 1958. Then Green Bay hired a coach by the name of Vince Lombardi and everything changed. Lombardi made Hornung his starting halfback and Hornung rewarded his coach’s decision by leading the league in scoring three straight years from 1959 to 1961. He set a record of 176 points in 1960 scoring 15 touchdowns, connecting on 15 field goals and converting 41 extra point attempts. His record stood for 46 years until LaDainian Tomlinson put up 186 points in 2006. HornungPaul-Hornung packers never became the 1,000 yard rusher that Fullback Jim Taylor was for Green Bay, but Hornung was always a constant threat to put points on the board for the Packers Dynasty of the 1960’s. In his second to last season in 1965, Hornung scored five touchdowns (three rushing & two receiving) against the Baltimore Colts and scored on a 13 yard run in the 3rd Quarter to put Green Bay ahead for good in the Championship Game vs. the Cleveland Browns. A neck injury slowed his career in 1966 and Hornung did not see the field during the Packers victory in Super Bowl I. 20 years later, the Golden Boy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

O.J. heismanO.J. Simpson was the second out of this group to win the Heisman, but was actually the first to be inducted into Canton. Simpson went into the Hall of Fame one year before Hornung did in 1985. The man they called O.J. only spent two seasons at USC after two years at the City College of San Francisco in the Junior College ranks. He immediately showed his ability at USC leading the nation with 1,543 yards and adding 11 touchdowns as a Junior. His senior year was even better. Simpson blasted off for 1,880 yards and 23 touchdowns onOJ USC 383 carries which all led the nation. O.J. was almost a unanimous selection for the Heisman as he still holds the record for the widest margin of victory of 1,750 points ahead of Leroy Keyes from Purdue. The Buffalo Bills had the number one overall selection in the third year of the shared NFL/AFL Draft in 1969. The Bills were 1-12-1 in 1968 and were trying to get back to its glory days of 1964 and 1965 when the franchise won the AFL Championship. Buffalo grabbed the long striding runner from California and continued to struggle. Simpson also struggled a bit averaging 642 yards at 4.0 yards per rush during those first three seasons. He also missed six games in 1970. In 1972, the offensive line began to gel and Simpson started to find his way as he ran for a career high 1,251 yards and led the NFL. The Bills still ended the season with a losing record at 4-9-1. However, 1973 became the year of magic for O.J. and the Buffalo Bills. With a Pro Bowler (Dave Foley at Tackle) and an All-Pro (Reggie McKenzie at

The record setting carry vs the Jets

The record setting carry vs the Jets

Guard) on the left side and a rookie but future Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure at right Guard the “Electric Company” opened gaping holes for O.J. as Simpson ran into the record books and NFL History gaining 2,003 yards. Simpson averaged an NFL Record 143.1 yards per game to become the first player to ever run for 2,000 yards in a season. And the NFL was still in a 14 game schedule in 1973. He started the year off with a bang gaining 250 yards in an opening weekend win over the Patriots. The 250 yards still stands as the record for most yards rushing in a season opening contest. Simpson went on to rush for 100 yards in every game but three (and even had 99 yards in one of those contests) and ended the year with two more 200 yard outings. He gained exactly 200 yards in the final game of the year against the Jets as he broke both Jim Brown’s record for most yards in a single season and the 2,000 yard plateau. The Bills finally had a winning record at 9-5 for the first time since 1966. Simpson had an incredible five year run from 1972 to 1976 in which he gained 7,699 yards, averaged 1,539.8 yards per season, led the league four times and scored a combined 54 touchdowns rushing and receiving. An injury in 1977 cut his season in half and then his career began to fade. Simpson went to San Francisco in 1978 and rushed for 1,053OJ HOF yards and four touchdowns combined through two seasons. He retired after the 1979 season as the NFL’s second leading rusher and only the second to rush for over 10,000 yards gaining 11,236, only 1,076 yards behind Jim Brown. Simpson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1985. His life has spiraled out of control since those days but he still remains as one of three to win the Heisman, be drafted 1st overall and inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Earl Campbell heismanEarl Campbell rounds out this backfield heavy three man exclusive club. The man with with legs the size of tree trunks and the speed of a deer rushed for 1,744 yards and 18 touchdowns his senior year at Texas, leading the nation in both categories. Campbell dominated the college ranks EarlCampbellTexasand was selected as the Southwest Conference Running Back of the year all four seasons. Leading up to the draft the consensus had become that Campbell was by far the best player in the draft class. In fact, former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer once said that he believed Campbell was the only player he ever saw that could have gone straight from high school to the NFL and be a star. The Tampa bay Buccaneers owned the top selection in 1978 after going 2-12. The 8-6 Houston Oilers decided they wanted Campbell and were willing to give up the King’s Ransom to get him. Trading the 17th and 44th overall picks in 1978, along with a third and fifth round pick in 1979 and Tight End Jimmie Giles the Oilers gained the 1st Overall Pick and immediately grabbed Earl Campbell rookieCampbell. The Oilers improved to 10-6 in 1978 and Campbell began his onslaught on the rest of the league. As a rookie Campbell grounded out a league leading 1,450 yards and didn’t stop there. In 1979 he topped the league again with 1,697 and again with 1,934 the second most ever in a season in 1980. Campbell led the league with his ever increasing totals through those first three years and the Luv Ya Blue era was in full swing in Houston. He continued to face defenses designed to stop him and still ran over and through defenders on his way to the end zone. Campbell’s career was cut short by some nagging injuries that slowed him down over the final few years of his career.OILERS v BROWNS - EARL CAMPBELL His rugged running style didn’t help much for longevity either. He still gained over 1,300 yards in 1981 but at under 4 yards per carry. Playing only nine games in the strike shortened season of 1982 he gained 538 yards at a career low 59.8 yards per game. He came back in 1983 with 1,301 yards and 12 scores but then slowed down after. Campbell spent only six games with Houston in 1984 and was gaining yards at 2.9 per carry. He was traded to the New Orleans Saints who had 1981 Rookie of the Year George Rogers in the backfield. Campbell played a lesser role in New Orleans for his old Oilers Coach Bum Phillips and retired after the 1985 season gaining only 833 yards in 24 games for the Saints. The Earl Campbell HOFtoll his body had taken with his bruising style had finally been enough. Campbell finished his nine year career 8th All-Time with 9,407 yards and 7th All-Time with 74 rushing scores. The 1978 Offensive Rookie of the Year had run his way to MVP awards and even two AFC Championship Game appearances but never a shot at the Super Bowl. Campbell was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility as well in 1991.

So there are only three in this club at the moment. But who could be the next to join? Tune in tomorrow as I take a look at the 23 other players who all won the Heisman and were drafted with the top pick to see who else could have a shot at joining this very exclusive club.

A History of a Trio of Pass Rushers: Part II The Repeaters

NFL: Buffalo Bills at Houston TexansMarcell Dareus sacking RiversJerry Hughes sacking Tannehill

Last year I published an article on A History of a trio of Pass Rushers, a story about the history of three teammates recording at least 10 sacks in the same season. Well, before rolling into this season it is in need of an update. History was achieved once again in 2014.

The Buffalo Bills repeated what they had done as a defense in 2013 with three players recording at least 10 sacks each. In 2013 Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Jerry Hughes had pulled it off for only the 20th time since the sack became an official statistic in 1982. In 2014, Mario Williams (14.5), Marcell Dareus (10.0) and Jerry Hughes (10.0) made it the 21st time, for the 2nd consecutive season and a record tying 3rd time for the Bills franchise.

As you may recall from my previous article on the subject no team has achieved this feat in consecutive seasons since the 1996-1997 San Francisco 49ers. And before 2014, the Los Angeles Raiders were the only team to have three players with double digit sacks in the same year three times (1984, 1985 & 1986 also the only team to accomplish this rarity three times in a row).

Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes also join an exclusive club as there have only been now EIGHT players who have been repeaters in the trio of pass rushers.

Football game 1983 Playoff  Rams vs SeahawksBill Pickel of the Los Angeles Raiders was essentially the 1st to repeat as well as be the 1st to do it three times. He recorded double digit sacks for the Raiders in 1984 (12.5), 1985 (12.5) and 1986 (11.5). A versatile player Pickel lined up all along the defensive line as a DE, DT and NT for the Raiders & the Jets for 12 seasons and 174 total games. His highest total for a single game was 3.5 in a 24-3 win over the Lions in 1984. He finished his career with 56 sacks and ’84, ’85 & ’86 were his only years finishing in double digits. Pickel was selected as an All-Pro in 1986.

Howie LongHall of Famer Howie Long was the 2nd player to repeat in the trio of teammates. Long harassed Quarterbacks along with Bill Pickel for the Raiders in 1984 (12.0) and 1985 (10.0). Long only had three seasons of 10+ sacks as 1983 was the 1st time (13.0). He finished his long & distinguished career in 1993 after 13 seasons (all with the Raiders) having played 179 games with 84 sacks. His single game high was 5 in a 37-35 loss to the Redskins in 1983. Long was never a player who was constantly bringing down the QB for the large sack numbers, but he was still one of the best defensive lineman of his era as he put the pressure on Quarterbacks from the edge forcing bad throws but was also a master run stuffer. Long was voted to eight Pro Bowls and was a two time All-Pro in ’84 & ’85. Howie Long was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000.

NFL Historical ImageryThe Raiders continued the repeating of a trio of pass rushers with Greg Townsend. Townsend joined the party with the Raiders in 1985 (10.0) and 1986 (11.5). Townsend was more adept at getting to the Quarterback with his combination of speed and power. He finished with 10 or more sacks 7 times and is one of 31 players to record more than 100 for a career (109.5 currently ranked 22nd). His single game best was 3.5 in a 37-24 victory over Washington in 1989. Townsend suited up for 190 games over his career spending 12 with the Raiders and one in Philadelphia. He was in LA for his first 11 seasons and then went back to the Raiders for four games in 1997, three years after he retired. Greg Townsend was a two time Pro Bowler in 1990 and 1991.

Lee WilliamsThe Chargers were the next team repeat and featured two of the same players even though it was three years apart. Team leader both in 1986 (15.0) & 1989 (14.0) was Lee Williams. The 6’6″ Defensive End recorded double digit sacks four times in his career; three times with San Diego and once with Houston. He spent 10 seasons in the NFL from 1984 to 1993 playing in 140 games and finished with 82.5 sacks. His single game high was 3.0 and he did it four times with the last one a 27-3 win for the Houston Oilers over the Bills in 1992. Williams was a two time Pro Bowler in 1988 and ’89.

Leslie ONealNext up with the Chargers was the end on the other side of the line Leslie O’Neal. O’Neal was right behind Williams in 1986 (12.5) and 1989 (12.5) but O’Neal enjoyed a longer and more distinguished career. Leslie O’Neal was one of the best pass rushers of his time in the 80’s and 90’s. He finished his 13 year career with 132.5 sacks (tied for 11th All-Time with Lawrence Taylor) and reached double digits eight times. His highest single season total was 17.0 in 1992 and his career high for a single game was 5 in a 24-21 loss to Dallas in 1986. O’Neal played nine seasons in San Diego and left the Chargers with 105.5 sacks. He played two seasons in St. Louis (17.0 sacks including 10.0 in 1997 at the age of 33) and then finished up with two more years in Kansas City (10.0 more sacks). Many times O’Neal is listed among the top players not in the Hall of Fame and I would have to agree with that sentiment. Leslie O’Neal terrorized Quarterbacks for 196 games and was named to six Pro Bowls (’89-’90 & ’92-’95). He ranks higher on the All-Time Sacks list than six other Hall of Famers who all played during the time of the Sack being an official stat.

Chris Doleman VikingsThe next player to repeat in this trio of pass rushing teammates is Hall of Famer Chris Doleman. Doleman is the second player to be on this list three times and is also the only player to have achieved this mark with two different teams. The first time for Doleman was in 1989 with the Minnesota Vikings. He was part of an absolutely dominating Defensive Line that set the mark for the most combined sacks from three players (50.5) and almost featured a fourth player. Doleman led the way with 21.0, Keith Millard the Defensive player of the Year was next with 18.0 and Al Noga chipped in with another 11.5. Henry Thomas, who missed two games that year at DT, added 9 more. The ’89 Vikings were very close to being the first and only team with Chris Doleman 49ersfour players in double digits the same year. The next time Doleman found himself with two other pass rushing mates was 1996 with the San Francisco 49ers. He recorded 11.0 in 1996 and 12.0 in 1997. And even though the 49ers repeated this feat in back to back seasons, Doleman was the only constant on both teams. Chris Doleman is one the best pass rushers of All-Time. He played in 232 games over 15 seasons in the NFL for three teams and was successful at all three stops. Doleman left the Vikings in 1994 for Atlanta where he registered 16 sacks in two years. He signed next with the 49ers and finished with 10 or more sacks in all three seasons. Doleman then returned to Minnesota for one more year in 1999 at the age of 38 and still recorded 8 more sacks giving him a grand total of 150.5 (4th All-Time). His total of 21.0 in 1989 was his highest for a single season and his career high for a single game is 4.0. Doleman did it first in 1989 in a 29-21 win over the Bengals and again in 1998 in 31-0 blanking of the Saints, 5 days before his 37th birthday. Doleman was selected to EIGHT Pro Bowls, going at least once for each team he played for, and was named an All-Pro twice in 1989 and 1992. Chris Doleman was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012.

And finally Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes can add themselves to this list. Williams will be looking to become the 32nd player in NFL History with 100 career sacks as he stands only nine away at 91.0. Hughes is only in his 5th season and is beginning to catch fire with the Bills. He has 25 career sacks with 20 coming in the past two seasons.

Last year may have been the 21st time this feat has happened since 1983, but it is also only the third time it has happened since 2000. Can the Buffalo Bills be the first team to accomplish this four times, and the first to three-peat since the 1984-1986 Los Angeles Raiders? With Rex Ryan taking over in Buffalo I believe ther is a great chance that I could be writing a 3rd article looking at the teams with three teammates recording 10 or more sacks in a season in a History of a Trio of Pass Rushers.

The loaded Bills Defensive Line: Jerry Hughes, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and Mario Williams.

The loaded Bills Defensive Line: Jerry Hughes, Kyle Williams, Marcell Dareus and Mario Williams.

A Lifetime Passion of Intrigue Begins With One Game: Joe Montana & Super Bowl XXIII

superbowl23topps1

Hello once again football fans. Yesterday was the 59th birthday of Joe Montana, possibly the greatest Quarterback of All-Time. And it got me thinking back to a Sunday night in January of 1989, when a lifetime passion of interest and research got started while staring at the TV with wide eyes.

The first game that I really remember watching was Super Bowl XXIII. Here was this 6 year old kid being absolutely mesmerized by what Joe Montana was doing on the field. I remember being completely captivated and glued to the TV during that final drive culminating in the game winning pass to John Taylor for the score was pure magic. Joe Montana became my favorite player.

The 49ers Drive

I was just beginning to get into football and being able to know who some of the players were as well as what was going on in the game. I know that I had watched many games before Super Bowl XXIII with my Dad, but this was the game that stuck in my memory. Joe Montana looked in total control leading the 49ers down the field against an excellent Bengals defense to win it all. I couldn’t be moved from the screenJohn Taylor TD catch SB XXIII as I watched each play. Passes to Roger Craig, John Frank and Jerry Rice and then finally to Taylor in the end zone captured the imagination of this 6 year old. Joe Montana was already The Comeback Kid and it was his 3rd Super Bowl win, but it was a new beginning for me.

The following season in 1989, I tried to watch as many 49er games as I could. But, growing up in the Northern Virginia area made this very difficult as I had to hope that we would be lucky enough for a game to be on as the late double header or on Monday Night. The Niners appeared on Monday Night three times in 1989 against the Saints, Giants and the Rams and won all three. My Dad would at least let me stay up long enough to watch some of the game. Obviously not all of it on a school night, which bummed me out quite a bit back then but I was 7. What did I know? I knew that I wanted to watch Montana and those 49ers as much as I could.

joe-montana 1989It was a great run for San Fran in 1989. 14-2 during the regular season and the top seed in the NFC in the playoffs. At this point, I was finally able to sit down and watch the games. The first was the Divisional Matchup against the Minnesota Vikings. Watching the pregame show I learned about how good the Vikings were. With Herschel Walker in the backfield, Steve Jordan and Anthony Carter catching passes the Vikings had an offense that could move the ball at will. But the bigger threat was the Defense. I didn’t know it at the time but the Vikings had an incredible defense that was known for getting after the Quarterback in historical fashion. With future Hall of Famer Chris Doleman, Defensive Player of the Year Keith Millard, Al Noga and Henry Thomas the Vikings defensive line looked like it could be the second coming of the Purple People Eaters. I was nervous in the beginning but that Jerry Rice TDdisappeared very quickly. In the 1st quarter San Francisco took the lead when Montana hit Jerry Rice for a 72 yard touchdown. Joe then proceeded to hit Brent Jones, John Taylor and Rice again as the 49ers scored 27 unanswered RonnieLott300x192points. Ronnie Lott added insult to injury for Minnesota with a 58 yard Interception return for a score in the 4th. Roger Craig added one more touchdown as the Niners won 41 -13. The ground game from the Vikings was not a threat as Walker ran for 29 yards on 9 carries and Steve Jordan was the only player for Minnesota to have a good game offensively with 9 catches for 149 yards. And as for my worry about the Vikings D, Joe Cool wasn’t sacked once. I could breathe a sigh of relief and try to keep my excitement of the anticipation for the next game in check for another week.

NFL Playoffs Rams Giants 1990The 49ers took on their old NFC West rival the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship. The Rams had squeaked by the Giants the week before 19-13 and were coming into Candlestick to take on the 49ers for the third time that season. Now, I knew about the Rams. I tried to pay attention to the teams in the NFC West and the Rams were one of the two losses the 49ers suffered during the regular season. San Francisco got payback winning the second matchup in LA on a Monday Night 30-27. That night John Taylor achieved history becoming the first player in the long tenure of the NFL to have two receiving touchdowns of 90 yards or more in the same game. So how would this game go? The Rams featured a 1,000 yard rusher in Greg Bell, 4,000 yard passer Jim Everett and two amazing deep threats in Henry Ellard and Willie “Flipper” Anderson. Both Ellard and Anderson gained over 1,000 yards at more than 18 yards per catch which is a rare occurrence. Not to mention the Rams featured a run stuffing defense and the maniac Kevin Greene on the outside blitzing the QB. Which team could make the adjustments from the previous match-ups and make it to the Super Bowl?

Joe Montana vs Rams

Once again I was nervous. A 7 year old watching his new found favorite team attempting to get into the Super Bowl for the 4th time (even though it was only the 2ndMike Lansford one that I remembered) could be a little nerve wracking. It was a battle in the 1st quarter and the Rams came out on top after the opening period 3-0 from a Mike Lansford field goal. I remember thinking how can that guy kick a football with no shoe on (card to the right)? That has to hurt but Lansford booted it right through. The Niners offense got going in the 2nd quarter and was not stopped. Once again, my nervousness subsided and instead I sat grinning from ear to ear watching Montana take the team in for score after score as San Francisco rolled up the next 30 points. Greg Bell only gained 20 yards for the Rams. Ellard and Anderson were held in check so much that Fullback Buford McGee 1989 NFC Championship:  Los Angeles Rams v San Francisco 49ersended up as the leading receiver for the Rams with 7 receptions for 53 yards. The Rams had a shot with Anderson deep downfield but Lott got there in just the nick of time to tip the ball away from what would have been a surefire touchdown for LA. The Rams 5th ranked rushing defense allowed the 49ers to run for 179 yards and a score and Kevin Greene never sacked Montana. I should have realized that the offensive line of Center Jesse Sapolu, Guards Guy McIntyre & Bruce Collie, and Tackles Harris Barton and Bubba Paris would protect Montana the same way they did against the Vikings. With the 30-3 dominating win, I was going to get to watch my favorite player and my favorite team play in the Super Bowl once again.

The two weeks of waiting for Super Bowl XXIV was excruciating. I couldn’t wait to see my favorite team led by my favorite player in the Super Bowl for the 2nd straight year. Plus, how many 7 year olds have the patience to wait two weeks (much less 2 seconds) for anything. The 49ers were taking on the Denver Broncos and its own star at QB in John Elway. The Broncos sported the best defense in the NFL and the 49ers had the best offense. Several of my classmates at school were telling me that Denver was going to kill Montana and that the 49ers would lose. I knew I had watched two very dominating playoff wins but, eh here come those butterflies again.

Joe Montana SB XXIV

This time there was never a moment of doubt or worry once the game got started. The 49ers blew away the Broncos in record breaking fashion. Joe Montana hit Jerry Rice, Brent Jones and John Taylor for a total of 5 touchdown passes, a new Super Bowl Jerry Rice TD Broncosrecord. All of my favorites were getting into the act as both Roger Craig and Tom Rathman scored rushing touchdowns. The defense dominated Elway and the Broncos as Kevin Fagan, Don Griffin, Pete Kugler, Larry Roberts and Daniel Stubbs all recorded sacks. Chet Brooks and Mike Walter grabbed two interceptions and virtually shut down Denver 55-10. It was all smiles on the 49ers sideline and it was the same in my living room as well watching this performance. As I have gotten older I don’t like to see the Super Bowl this one sided, but as a 7 year old who fell in love with the 49ers and the game it was quite enjoyable.

Joe Knows Super Bowls

A few months after Super Bowl XXIV, I found the NFL Films video for the 49ers season entitled “Masters of the Game” and I couldn’t stop watching. Every time my Joe Starkeyparents would take me and my sister over to Blockbuster to rent some videos I always picked that one out. I watched it so many times that I became so familiar with almost every player on the 49ers roster and how the games came out. I could also recall (and can still hear) numerous game calls from the great Joe Starkey “TOUCHDOWN 49ERS!!!” I can still name every starter from the 1989 San Francisco 49ers all these years later and then several backups as well.

The 1990 season ended in a disaster for me as a fan. Montana got knocked out of the NFC Championship Game against the Giants and San Fran lost on its opportunity at three consecutive trips to the Super Bowl. For years if I heard the name Leonard Marshall it would make me growl because of that hit. It burned me up and even sometimes I still find myself with a little snarl when I hear his name, but as a fan of the game of football I can look back and acknowledge that Marshall was an exceptional player for many great Giants defenses for so many years.

Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Joe Montana (L) congratulates Chiefs running back Marcus Allen  after his fourth touchdown in their game against the Houston Oilers in the AstrodomeI was upset when the 49ers traded Montana to the Chiefs, but as he went to Kansas City I started looking more at the Chiefs and realizing what a great team it was. They had just grabbed Marcus Allen as well and had players like Derrick Thomas, Neil Smith, Dan Saleaumua, Will Shields, Tim Grunhard, Willie Davis and J.J. Birden. I had a new team to cheer for as Montana got very close to taking KC to the Super Bowl for the first time since after the 1969 season. Still I watched history happen.

On Monday Night October 17, 1994 I was allowed to stay up once again and watch joe-monday-magicMontana magic as he and John Elway had an amazing battle to the end at Mile High. I remember once again being on the edge of my seat as I wanted to see my old hero come through in what was possibly his final season (and it was). The Chiefs broke the 21-21 tie in the 4th quarter with a Lin Elliott Field Goal. But then Elway did what he does best and took the Broncos down the field and he crossed the goal line himself from 4 yards out to give the lead back to Denver with time Willie Davis TDwinding down. That is when Joe Cool is at his best. With the clock dwindling, the Chiefs drove down the field with Montana at the helm brining back memories of Super Bowl XXIII. Finally Montana hit Willie Davis from 5 yards out, and with a quick switch of the ball from his right hand to his left, the referee threw his arms into the air. Joe Montana had done it once again. It was one of the greatest games I ever watched and I would still put it up there as one of the tops I have ever seen in my life.

Joe retired after the 1994 season. He had spent 13 seasons by the Bay and 2 more in America’s Heartland. He was still my favorite player and even though his career was over I was still trying to get my hands on as many Joe Montana cards as I could. I Joe Montana 1990 toppsstarted collecting football cards in 1990. My first cards were a few 1990 Pro Set that came in boxes of Wheaties. At Christmas my parents bought for me the complete set of 1990 Topps and this is where I got my first Joe Montana cards. For my 11th birthday my parents really helped with the quest for Montanas, as they bought me 43 different Joe Montana football cards. My collection now stands at over 220. With of course the most prized possession, his rookie card from 1981 Topps. As a kid when you see that a card is worth $200, you never really think that you have a chance to obtain the tough rookie. Except finally one summer day in 1997. I just came home from a trip to a friend’s house for a week and my Dad handed me the Valley Trader which has ads for many things for sale

My Joe Montana Rookie. Not Mint but I don't care.

My Joe Montana Rookie. Not Mint but I don’t care.

throughout the Shenandoah Valley. He had circled that someone was selling a Montana rookie card for $80. I looked at him puzzled because they always told me that spending that much on one card was ridiculous. But he said if I think the card is in good enough shape, and obviously paying with my own money. that if I really wanted it they would take me over. We drove over to the guy’s house and I took a look at the card. It wasn’t in Mint Condition but then again he wouldn’t be asking $80 if it was. I thought it was a fair asking price and bought that 1981 rookie. It was a card I had dreamed of obtaining for several years and I just kept looking at it the whole ride home as I couldn’t believe that I finally had the #1 card from my Most Wanted List.

A few years later, in 2000 Joe Montana was to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I was there with my Dad of course.

Watching Joe Montana captured my imagination and fascination as a kid and really got my interest in the NFL to grow exponentially. The more I watched Montana and the 49ers, the more I saw players for other teams and of course with the help of NFL Films, collecting cards and watching games with my Dad it all peaked my interest to want to know as much as I could about all the teams and players. Football cards were a big help with finding out about players and their careers. I wasn’t just interested in collecting Montana cards, but to get any that I could. I now have well over 40K football cards at the last count.

And now, I research the NFL with any chance I get. I read whatever I can find and watch pretty much everything that involves the history of the league. I love to try and spread the knowledge that I have gained to my friends and anyone who will listen. My friends all know that if they want to know something about a player, a team or a stat to ask me. Even in this time of smart phones where you can find anything you want at your fingertips, they still come to me. That is the main reason behind this blog and the many different aspects of the game with history, bizarre and rare stats and stories that I love to share. I have always tried to tell people that you must look at the history of the game and the players that came before the ones you are watching now to truly understand the greatness. I have been successful in getting some of the younger generation to look into the greats of the past and not be forever blinded to the stars of today. It puts a smile on my face every time that I have started someone on looking more into their favorite team or the league in general. And now it has also spread to my time with the Marshall University Softball Team in writing about the greats of the past and coming up with trivia questions and allowing fans and our own players to see and appreciate who came before them.

All starting with a wide eyed 6 year old kid, sitting on the living room carpet late one Sunday night in January 1989, watching Joe Cool take the 49ers down the field with 3:04 remaining to win the Super Bowl.

49ers Super Bow XXIII

Is Denver’s Receiving Core One of the Best Ever?

 Demaryius ThomasJulius Thomas Emmanuel Sanders  Wes Welker

Good evening football fans. Sorry I haven’t posted anything in a while but I had a few other things that I needed to get done. However, I’m back at the keyboard and have another interesting one for today.

While watching Mike and Mike the other morning they discussed a topic with Hall of Famer Cris Carter that really got my mind going. They were trying to decide if anyone has ever had such a great arsenal of weapons on the receiving end as what Peyton Manning has right now with the Broncos. Honestly when you can say that Wes Welker is possibly the fourth best option, well then that is a loaded group of receivers. They were trying to think of teams that had a legitimate group of 4 pass catchers not including a Running Back. Greenberg talked about the crew that Fouts had in San Diego in the early 80’s with Charlie Joiner, John Jefferson and Kellen Winslow but you would have to add in back Chuck Muncie. Cris Carter suggested the Houston Oilers Run and Shoot offense in the early 90’s with Warren Moon at the helm. Moon had targets Drew Hill, Haywood Jeffires, Ernest Givins and Curtis Duncan all Wide Receivers.

 Drew Hill Haywood Jeffires runsErnest Givins Curtis Duncan

So naturally this sent me on a long research journey (that I always love doing anyway) to find groups that could put up numbers year after year. Now the importance was on finding a whole receiving core. There have been 111 times in NFL History that 2 or 3 teammates have finished a season with over 1,000 yards. There have been 5 times that a trio of teammates have all gone for over 1,000 yards receiving in the same season. A very rare feat in NFL History but even sometimes having 3 players with over 1,000 yards has not given way to a legitimate 4th or even 5th option. So in starting I looked at the history of each franchise to see how many times a team has had at least 4 players with at least 500 yards receiving. The Broncos look to be set to have Demaryius Thomas, Julius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders and Wes Welker all go for 500 yards.

Going all the way back to the 1930’s is when you will find the 1st time even one player finished a season with 500 yards.

Don Hutson

Don Hutson

Green Bay Packers legend Don Hutson was the first in 1936 with 536. Then in 1943 the Packers were the first team with 2 players with over 500 yards each (Don Hutson 776 and Harry Jacunski 528).

As the passing game continued to evolve, it only took 4 years for a team to have 3 players with at least 500 receiving yards. The Washington Redskins with Slingin Sammy Baugh at Quarterback had Eddie Saenz (598), Bob Nussbaumer (597) and Hugh Taylor (511) all hit the 5 century mark.

15 seasons went by before an organization had 4 different players with at least 500 yards receiving. In 1962 in the AFL, the Broncos had Lionel Taylor (908), Bob Scarpitto (667), Gene Prebola (599) and Bo Dickinson (544). This has happened another 145 times since.

In 1983, the Dallas Cowboys took the next step of showing a well balanced receiving core. Dallas had 5 players all with over 500 yards. The Cowboys were led by Tony Hill (823) and followed by Ron Springs (589), Doug Cosbie (588), Butch Johnson (561) and Drew Pearson (545). This has happened 11 times since with most recently the Broncos and the Saints in 2013. The Miami Dolphins (1992 & 1993), Philadelphia Eagles (2005 & 2010) and the New Orleans Saints (2011 & 2013) are the only franchises that have done this twice. However, in 2011 the Saints set the mark with 6 players all over 500 yards with Jimmy Graham (1,310), Marques Colston (1,143), Darren Sproles (710), Lance Moore (627), Robert Meachem (620) and Devery Henderson (503).

Here is a look at each franchise and all the seasons that each has had at least 4 players with over 500 yards receiving each and in order of most to least. You might be surprised at some of the teams that are at the top as well as the ones at the bottom. See where your favorite team ranks: Updates from the 2014 season are in bold

11 Times – Philadelphia Eagles: The first was in 1988 led by Keith Jackson (869), Cris Carter (761), Keith Byars (705) and Mike Quick (508). The Eagles have accomplished the feat each of the past 5 seasons and even had the same 4 players for the first 4 years from 2009-2012 with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek and Jason Avant. Philly is one of 3 teams to have done this 5 straight seasons, but the only team with the same 4 players in 4 consecutive seasons (added in with LeSean McCoy in 2010). Update: The Eagles did it again in 2014 to still lead the NFL at now 11 times with Jeremy Maclin (1,318), Jordan Matthews (872), Zach Ertz (702) & Riley Cooper (577).

9 Times – Miami Dolphins: The first time was in 1984 with Dan Marino shattering all the records throwing to Mark

The Marks Brothers Duper & Clayton

The Marks Brothers Duper & Clayton

Clayton (1,389), Mark Duper (1,306), Tony Nathan (579) and Nat Moore (573). In fact, with Marino at the helm the Dolphins did it again in 1985, 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993 and 1995. The Marks Brothers were participants in 5 of these seasons. The last time for Miami was in 2010.

9 Times – New York Giants: The first time for New York was in 1984 with Phil Simms at QB throwing to Bobby Johnson (795), Zeke Mowatt (698), Lionel Manuel (619) and Earnest Gray (529). The Giants didn’t accomplish it again until 1999. The G-Men are one of the 3 teams that have pulled this off in each of the past 5 seasons but with 10 different players.

8 Times – Indianapolis Colts: The first time for the Colts was back in Baltimore in 1979. The Colts were led by Joe Washington (750), Don McCauley (575), Reese McCall (536) and Glenn Doughty (510). Indy hit the mark 5 times with Peyton Manning leading the team and most recently in 2012 during Andrew Luck’s rookie season.

7 Times – Dallas Cowboys: The first time for Dallas came in 1978 with Tony Hill (823), Drew Pearson (714), Preston Pearson (526) and Billy Joe DuPree (509). In 1983 the Cowboys became the first team with 5 players. Dallas had the group of 4 again in 1988, 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2011. With Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley you have to wonder if the Cowboys will get there again this season, even with DeMarco Murray leading the league in rushing.

Todd Christensen

Todd Christensen

7 Times – Oakland Raiders: The Raiders got it started back in the old AFL days in 1967 the first time with Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff (876), Billy Cannon (629), Hewritt Dixon (563) and Bill Miller (537). Then the Raiders went for 3 straight seasons from 1983 to 1985 with Tight End Todd Christensen leading the team each time. It then took 17 years before the Raiders had the 4 players with over 500 yards again in 2002. The last time for the Raiders was 2012.

7 Times – Green Bay Packers: The first time for the Pack came in 1983 with James Lofton (1,300) leading the team. Lofton was joined by John Jefferson (830), Paul Coffman (814) and Gerry Ellis (603). Green Bay didn’t reach this feat again until 1999 and then again in 2001, 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

7 Times – Denver Broncos: The first time for Denver was the first time for any franchise back in 1962. However it didn’t happen again until 1981. The Broncos passing game reached it again in 1988, 2002, 2008, 2012 and 2013. Denver is in prime position to have 4 players again this season. And all 4 players are a legitimate threat to go over 1,000 each. If they do, it will be the first time in NFL History.

Times – Pittsburgh Steelers: The franchise known as a run heavy team first had 4 players with over 500 yards each in 1981 with Hall of Famer John Stallworth (1098), Bennie Cunningham (574), Jim Smith (571) and Hall of Famer Lynn Swann (505). It took another 25 years but it has happened quickly with Big Ben at QB accomplishing the feat in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2013. Update: Big Ben spread the ball around again this time hitting five targets for all over 500 yards with Antonio Brown leading the league (1,698), Le’Veon Bell (854), Heath Miller (761), Markus Wheaton (644) & Martavius Bryant (549).

Charlie Joiner, John Jefferson and Kellen Winslow

Charlie Joiner, John Jefferson and Kellen Winslow

7 Times – San Diego Chargers: The Dan Fouts led Air Coryell got it going in 1984 with Hall of Famer Charlie Joiner (793), Pete Holohan (734), Bobby Duckworth (715), Wes Chandler (708) and Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow (663). The Bolts did it again in 1987, 1994, 1995, 2010 and 2013. With Phillip Rivers back there it could definitely happen again. Update: And it did happen again with Rivers tossing to Malcolm Floyd (856), Antonio Gates (821), Keenan Allen (783) and Eddie Royal (778) all providing steady targets.

7 Times – New Orleans Saints: For the Saints it had never happened until Drew Brees took over at Quarterback. There have been only 2 times that the Brees led Saints have not had at least 4 players with over 500 yards. Since 2006, only 2007 and 2010 this has not happened. Update: And of course this past season was no different with Bress delivering the pigskin to Kenny Stills (931), Marques Colston (902), Jimmy Graham (889) & Brandin Cooks (550).

6 Times – San Francisco 49ers: The first time for the Niners was in 1986 with Jerry Rice (1,570) in his first 1K season followed by Dwight Clark (794), Roger Craig (724) and Russ Francis (505). The 49ers had the group of 4 again in 1989, 1994, 1995, 1998 and 2000. It has been quite a while for San Fran, but there is a great group by the Bay that could possibly get there this year.Ahmad Rashad

6 Times – Minnesota Vikings: Former host of the NBA’s Inside Stuff Ahmad Rashad led the way for the first time for the Vikings in 1978 with 769 yards and was followed by Sammy White (741), Rickey Young (704) and Bob Tucker (540). The Vikings hit the mark again in 1981, 1986, 1995, 2004 and 2009. Oddly enough it never happened during the years of Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Jake Reed on the outside.

6 Times – Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers: This nomadic franchise did it first in the old AFL in 1965 with Charley Frazier (717), Ode Burrell (650), Charley Hennigan (578) and Willie Frazier (521). It took 24 more years before Warren Moon and the Run and Shoot offense did it 4 straight years. Moon and his group accomplished the feat in 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1992 with the same 4 players until Drew Hill went to the Falcons in 1992. Another 20 years went by before the now Titans did it again in 2012.

6 Times – Kansas City Chiefs: The first time for the Chiefs was back in 1964 with Frank Jackson (943), Fred Arbanas (686), Chris Burford (675) and Abner Haynes (562). 19 years later KC reached the mark in 1983 and then again in 1990, 1994, 2003 and 2013.

5 Times – St. Louis Rams: Even though the Rams franchise has had some of the most prolific passing offenses in the early days of the NFL, the Rams never had 4 players with 500 or more yards until the beginning of the Greatest Show on Turf in 1999. Isaac Bruce (1,165), Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk (1,048), Tory Holt (788) and Az-Hahir Hakim (677) got the fireworks started. The Rams then did it again in 2000, 2001, 2005 and finally in 2012.

Larry Centers was a part of a group of 4 with 3 different teams Arizona, Washington and Buffalo

Larry Centers was a part of a group of 4 with 3 different teams Arizona, Washington and Buffalo

4 Times – St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals: The first time for the Cards was in 1984 with Roy Green (1,555), Pat Tilley (758), Ottis Anderson (611) and Doug Marsh (608). The Cardinals did it again in 1985 and then again in 1993 and 1994. Even with Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston all with over 1,000 yards in 2008 Arizona was close to making it for a 5th time with Jerheme Urban finishing with 448 yards.

4 Times – New England Patriots: The first time for the Pats came in 1989 with Hart Lee Dykes (795), Cedric Jones (670), Eric Sievers (615) and Irving Fryar (537) playing for a combination of 4 different QBs with Steve Grogan, Marc Wilson, Tony Eason and Doug Flutie. 21 years later the Pats had finally done it again and it has been 3 times in 4 years with 2010, 2011 and 2013.

4 Times – Atlanta Falcons: It took 26 years before the Falcons had 4 players with over 500 yards each for the first time. In 1992 Atlanta was led by Andre Rison (1,119), Mike Pritchard (827), Michael Haynes (808) and Drew Hill (623). Drew Hill was a part of this feat 4 seasons in a row having first been with the Oilers from 1989 through 1991. The Falcons repeated it in 1994 and then not again until 2013. Update: The Falcons went back to back for the 1st time in franchise history as Julio Jones (1,593), Roddy White (921), Harry Douglas (556) & Devin Hester (504) as crossed the 5 century mark.

3 Times – Detroit Lions: The first time for Lions came in 1984 with Leonard Thompson (773), Mark Nichols (744), James Jones (662) and Jeff Chadwick (540). It didn’t happen again for Detroit until 2007 and then again in 2011.

3 Times – New York Jets: Even with the prolific passing of Joe Namath to players like Don Maynard and George Sauer, the Jets didn’t have a group of 4 with over 500 yards each until 1985 with Mickey Shuler (879), Wesley Walker (725), Al Toon (662) and Kurt Sohn (534). The Jets hit the mark again in 1993 and for the last time in 2000. None of the 3 times did the Jets have a 1,000 yard receiver to lead the group.

James Lofton and Andre Reed

James Lofton and Andre Reed

3 Times – Buffalo Bills: The Bills didn’t reach the feat with 4 players for over 500 yards until the 3rd season of the Bills run to the Super Bowl in 1992 with Hall of Famers Andre Reed (913), James Lofton (786) and Thurman Thomas (626) along with Don Beebe (554). The Bills repeated this in 1993 with 2 different players as Lofton and Thomas were replaced by Bill Brooks and Pete Metzelaars with over 500 yards. The last time was in 2001.

3 Times – Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens first accomplished the feat in 1997 with Derrick Alexander (1,009), Michael Jackson (918), Jermaine Lewis (648) and Eric Green (601). The Ravens got back at it in 2010 and 2011 led both times by Anquan Boldin.

2 Times – Chicago Bears: The Bears have been known throughout its long and storied history as a smash mouth, run it down your throat type of offense. It has only been recently that the Bears have been a little bit more pass happy. It took Chicago 89 years before finally having 4 players with at 500 yards receiving. In 2009 the Bears were led by Devin Hester (757), Earl Bennett (717), Greg Olsen (612) and Johnny Knox (527). Chicago did it again this past season with 1,000 yard receivers Brandon Marshall (1,295) and Alshon Jeffery (1,421) joined by Martellus Bennett (759) and Matt Forte (594). The Bears could very easily get it for a third time this season so long as Cutler can stay healthy and cut down on mistakes. Update: The same group of 4 did it again for the Bears albeit with a change in order as Alshon Jeffery (1,133) led the team again followed by Martellus Bennett (916), Matt Forte (808) and Brandon Marshall (721).

Cris Collisnworth

2 Times – Cincinnati Bengals: The only 2 times that Cincy has accomplished the feat was in the 1980’s in 1981 and 1986. Cris Collinsworth led both teams with over 1,000 yards each time (1,009 & 1,024) and was followed by Dan Ross (910), Isaac Curtis (609) and Steve Kreider (520) in 1981 and Eddie Brown (964), James Brooks (686) and Rodney Holman (570) in 1986.

2 Times – Cleveland Browns: The teams from Ohio have been an identical match. The only 2 seasons for the Browns, 1981 and 1986. In 1981 the Browns were led by Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome (1,002), Ricky Feacher (654), Greg Pruitt (636) and Reggie Rucker (532). In 1986, Brian Brennan (838) led the way followed by Reggie Langhorne (678), Wesbter Slaughter (577) and Herman Fontenot (559).

2 Times – Washington Redskins: Even with Quarterbacks like Sammy Baugh and Sonny Jurgensen and Receivers like Charley Taylor, Art Monk, Gary Clark and Rickey Sanders Washington never had 4 players with at least 500 yards each until 2000. And when it finally did, it was with 5 players: Albert Connell (762), James Thrash (653), Larry Centers (600), Irving Fryar (548) and Stephen Alexander (510). It didn’t happen again until Robert Griffin III’s rookie season in 2012.

2 Times – Houston Texans: For the team that has only been around since 2002 the Texans have had at least one of the best pass catchers of the past decade in Andre Johnson. And the Texans have tried to surround him with some other legitimate threats. The Texans have had at least 4 pass catchers with 500 or more yards in 2007 and 2010. Johnson led the way for both groups followed by Kevin Walter (both times), Owen Daniels (2007), Andre Davis (2007), Arian Foster (2010) Jacoby Jones (2010) and Joel Dreessen (2010).

1 Time – Seattle Seahawks: For the Seahawks it took 26 years to accomplish it for the first time, and it has been 12 years since. Seattle hit the mark for the only time in 2002 with Koren Robinson (1,240), Darrell Jackson (877), Bobby Engram (619) and Itula Mili (508).

1 Time – Carolina Panthers: The Panthers first came into existence in 1995 and have had some very good to great players catching passes. However, it wasn’t until last season that the Panthers finally had 4 players with at least 500 yards receiving. Greg Olsen (816) led the way followed by Steve Smith (745), Brandon LaFell (627) and Ted Ginn (556).

Jimmy Smith

Jimmy Smith

Mark Carrier

Mark Carrier

There are 2 teams that have never had at 4 players with at least 500 receiving yards in the same season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been around since 1976 and have only had 3 players with 500 yards 8 times in franchise history with the most recent time being in 2011. The other is the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags have been around for 19 fewer years then the Bucs and yet have had 3 players with 500 or more yards 8 times as well, with the most recent coming in 2012.

After going through all of this history, I would have to agree that this year’s squad for the Broncos might just be the most lethal. When a team can rely on 3 Wide Receivers and a Tight End as possible 1,000 yard receivers, it is just incredible. Remember all a player needs to average is 62.5 yards per game to reach 1,000. All 4 of Peyton’s main targets are threats to have a 100 yard game at any time. And last night’s game helps to prove that. Emmanuel Sanders with over 100 and 3 scores and even Demaryius Thomas with yet another 100 yard game shows what Denver can do offensively. This past season Denver was the third team to ever have 4 players all with over 750 yards each with Thomas, Decker, Julius Thomas and Welker. The first time this happened was in 1990 with the Run and Shoot Oilers. Haywood Jeffires, Drew Hill, Ernest Givins and Curtis Duncan all had over 750 yards. The 2009 Steelers were the next team with 4 players all over 750 yards with Santonio Holmes, Hines Ward, Heath Miller and Mike Wallace. The Broncos could very well become the 1st team to accomplish the feat twice and possibly in back to back seasons. Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Wes Welker and Julius Thomas are all big time threats for Denver and this offense could be looking at another record setting year for the Broncos.

Broncos

Update: Due to injuries, Denver’s receiving corp did not accomplish the feat of 4 players with 500+ yards receiving. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders tore through opposing defenses combining for 3,023 yards which is the 2nd highest total ever for combined receiving yards from two players (151 yards behind the Lions Herman Moore and Brett Perriman in 1995). However, Julius Thomas missed three games and ended the year 11 yards short of 500 but still nabbed 12 touchdowns. Wes Welker missed two games and finished with 464 yards. So in the end, Denver did finish with one of the best duos in NFL History for yards with Thomas and Sanders and even a great triple threat with 32 combined scores from Thomas, Julius Thomas and Sanders. This group was extremely dangerous but just missed out on some historical marks as a group of four. What team will have a shot at it in 2015. Less than 100 days until we can begin to find out.