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.


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.

The Last Time: A Franchise Allowed a 200 Yard Receiver Part II

Lance Alworth and Calvin Johnson are tied with 5 200 Yard receiving games in a career for most since 1960.

Lance Alworth and Calvin Johnson are tied with 5 200 Yard receiving games in a career for most since 1960.

Good evening folks. This morning I took a look into the first half of the teams in the NFL allowing 200 yard receivers and just how long it has been since the last time. It ranged from the Miami Dolphins who gave it up to Eric Decker in the final game of the season, to the Buffalo Bills who last allowed Wes Welker do go for 217 yards 61 games ago.

Of the bottom 16 as it were, the majority of the teams were from the AFC. Nine in fact with Buffalo, Houston, Indy, Jacksonville, Miami, New York Jets, Oakland, Pittsburgh and Tennessee. Every team from the AFC South was represented with Houston, Indy, Jacksonville and Tennessee all in fewer then 25 games. Three teams came from the AFC East (Buffalo, Miami and the Jets) and only one each from the AFC North (Pittsburgh) and AFC West (Oakland). Then the seven from the NFC were Arizona, Atlanta, Dallas, Green Bay, Minnesota, New Orleans and Washington. No more than two teams from a division came up here with the NFC East (Dallas & Washington) the NFC South (Atlanta & New Orleans) and the NFC North (Green Bay & Minnesota) leading the way so to speak. Arizona was the only team from the NFC West.

So now on to the Top 16. The teams that have gone the longest without allowing a player to gain 200 yards receiving in a game. The team at the top that has gone the longest will surprise you.

17. 73 Games – Philadelphia Eagles: The first time Philly allowed a player 200 yards Britt-Eaglesreceiving in a game even since 1960 came in 1979 from Tony Hill of the Cowboys. 28 seasons later the Eagle Defense bent but didn’t break as Roy Williams went over the two century mark in a 56-21 Philly win. But the most recent game did not take as long to come up as just three years and one month later the Tennessee Titans Kenny Britt became the second youngest player since 1960 to gain 200 yards receiving in a single game (he is now the 3rd as Mike Evans is the youngest passing Jerry Butler by 259 days). October 24, 2010 Britt blew through the Eagles secondary with seven grabs for 225 yards and three touchdowns in a 37-19 Titans win.

18. 74 Games – Cincinnati Bengals: The second team from the AFC North comes up atRoddy White the 18th spot. The Bengals have given up four such games in the franchise’s history and two have gone to Hall of Famers (Art Monk & James Lofton). It took almost 20 years for another receiver to break the 200 barrier in a game. October 24, 2010 Roddy White of UAB (who will thankfully be bringing football back) cracked through the Bengal D with 11 receptions for 201 yards and two scores. Cincy lost the game after mounting a furious comeback being down 24-3 at the half scoring 22 unanswered points in the third quarter. Atlanta finally responded and scored two touchdowns in the fourth including White’s second of the game to take the lead and eventually the win. All of Cincinnati’s 200 yard games allowed have been away from the confines of The Jungle and all four have been losses. Another odd figure for you, the Bengals have only won two games out of nine in which one of its own players gained 200 yards receiving and both wins came against the Steelers (1988 Eddie Brown & 1998 Carl Pickens). Cincinnati does not have much luck with 200 yard receiving days.

19. 76 Games – Cleveland Browns: Another AFC North team pops up next, and the majority of theTerrell Owens 200 yard games have come against a division foe. Even a cross-state foe as the Bengals have nabbed three of the four 200 yard games given up by Cleveland since the 1970 merger. Hall of Famer Charlie Joiner was the first in 1975. 14 years went by before another player did it again to the Browns and of course it came in the team’s first season back after the move. Terry Glenn for the Patriots gained 214 in 1999 and is so far the only player not in a Bengals uniform since 1970. Chad Johnson was next in 2007 but the most recent was none other than Terrell Owens during his only season by the Ohio River. Owens became the oldest to gain 200 yards receiving in a game (going back to 1960) at 36 years and 300 days October 3rd of 2010 with 10 catches for 222 yards and one score. Cleveland won the game 23-20 despite Cincy scoring the final 10 points.

20. 80 Games – Kansas City Chiefs: The AFC keeps it rolling here with the secondJabar Gaffney from the West. KC has allowed five games of a 200 yard receiver since the 1970 merger with four coming after the turn of the century. However, the Chiefs are getting on a bit of string lately in holding off opponents from huge games. A great pass rush helps out a lot but it was in the final game of the 2009 regular season, January 3rd of 2010 when Jabar Gaffney did it for the Broncos. Gaffney had the best game of his career grabbing 14 passes for 213 yards. Kansas City kept Gaffney out of the end zone, and picking off Kyle Orton three times along with 259 yards on the ground by Jamal Charles, the Chiefs won the game 44-24 helping to knock Denver out of the playoffs. KC finished the season 4-12.

21. 87 Games – Detroit Lions: The NFC finally makes another appearance as Detroit, Sidney Ricenormally a bottom of the league team has made significant improvements over the passed several years. Especially to its defense. The Lions have allowed five different players to gain over 200 yards in a game through the air with three of those games coming between 2003 and the 2009 seasons. However, the last time the Lions have given up a 200 yard game to a receiver was the last season that we saw Brett Favre at his best in 2009. November 15th, Sidney Rice caught seven passes from the future Hall of Famer for 201 yards. Rice didn’t get into the end zone but it didn’t matter as Adrian Peterson scored twice and the Vikings beat the hapless Lions 27-10. Detroit ended the year 2-14 one year after going 0-16.

22. 91 Games – San Francisco 49ers: The second team from the NFC West comes upRoddy White vs 49ers at the 22nd spot with the 49ers. San Fran has a big history with 200 yard receiving games as the franchise has been a part of it 18 times (regular season and playoffs) since 1960. The 49ers have allowed eight games of an opponent’s receiver going over 200, and have had one of its own players accomplish it 10 times. After allowing 200 yard games in back to back seasons in 2008 & 2009, San Fran has worked to clean up its defense and it has been a dominant one during that time frame. The last player to gain 200 yards receiving against the Niners came October 11th of 2009 as Roddy White for the Falcons comes up once again on the list. In this game White caught eight passes for 210 yards and two scores as the Falcons blew out the 49ers 45-10.

23. 99 Games – Carolina Panthers: Just one more game and the Panthers will hit tripleAntonio Bryant, Richard Marshall digits since the last game giving up 200 to a receiver in a game. It has only happened twice to Carolina in franchise history with Washington’s Rod Gardner being the first in 2001. The last time was in an important division matchup at home against the Buccaneers December 8th of 2008. Both were teams battling for playoff positioning and getting into the last month of the season. Antonio Bryant in a comeback season after not playing at all in 2007, had nine receptions for exactly 200 yards and two touchdowns. It wasn’t nearly enough as the Panthers got a combined 301 yards on the ground from DeAngelo Williams and Johnathan Stewart, and an additional 117 yards from Steve Smith to take the game 38-23.

24. 135 Games – San Diego Chargers: The first team on the list at over 100 games thechad_johnson Chargers have only allowed three 200 yard games since 1960 and always manage to put more then 20 years in between each one. The first was to the Houston Oilers’ Charley Hennigan (who was a lot of teams’ first in giving up 200 yard games) in 1961 in the old AFL. The second time came in 1985 to Stephone Paige of the Chiefs who set the then record of 309 yards. Then the last time the Chargers gave up a 200 yard game to a receiver was November 12th of 2006 to Chad Johnson. The Bengals wideout caught 11 passes for 260 yards and two scores in a shootout loss for Cincy 49-41. 90 total points and 976 total yards gained in this contest as San Diego scored 42 points in the second half, on its way to a 14-2 finish. The Chargers lost in the Divisional Round meeting with the Patriots.

25. 156 Games – St. Louis Rams: We go back further for the next team as the RamsPlaxico Burress despite some bad years have not allowed a big receiving game to an individual in nine seasons. Since 1960, the Rams have only given up four 200 yard games and San Fran claims two of those. Jerry Rice was the first in 1985 and John Taylor followed him up with a record setting day in 1989 as the first player with two 90 yard receiving touchdowns in the same game. The third came in 1996 as Keenan McCardell for a young Jaguars team crossed the two century mark. But the last time it happened, October 2nd of 2005. Plaxico Burress for the Giants had 10 catches for 204 yards and two touchdowns in a 20 point Giants win. The Rams D in recent seasons has been the leader in keeping the team in games and also in stopping receivers from reaching 200 yards.

26. 225 Games – Chicago Bears: For years the Bears did not allow a single 200 yardTerrell Owens 49ers receiver. It has happened four times since 1960 but there was a long time in between. Bernie Casey of the 49ers hit up Chicago for 225 yards back in 1966 but then the Bears tightened up for over 30 years. And then gave it up it chunks. The Bears allowed two 200 yard games in 1999 including one of only two such games by a RB (Marshall Faulk). And then another in 2000 that was a record breaker by another 49er. December 17th of 2000 Jerry Rice was the star of the day in his final game at Candlestick Park. But Terrell Owens would end up the Headliner catching a new record 20 passes for 283 yards and a score. Owens broke the old record of 18 receptions in a single game held for 50 years by Hall of Famer Tom Fears. The Bears lost the game 17-0. The Bears have not allowed another 200 yard game since, even with some rather bad defenses in the past few years.

27. 238 Games – Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens have been known for a tenacious andJimmy-Smith ravenous Defense during its rather short tenure in the NFL. But yet two receivers have gained over 200 yards in a game against this nasty D. Isaac Bruce was the first during the Ravens inaugural season in Baltimore in 1996. Then Jimmy Smith of the Jaguars was the second and so far the last. September 10th of 2000, Smith exploded on the eventual Super Bowl Champs for 15 receptions for 291 yards and three scores. The Ravens would still get the victory 39-36 behind five touchdown passes from Tony Banks (yes I said Tony Banks). Smith caught a 40 yard TD from Mark Brunell with 1:45 left in the game. Baltimore responded with a quick striking drive ending with Banks finding Shannon Sharpe for the 29 yard game winning score with 48 seconds remaining. Corey Harris intercepted Brunell with 4 seconds left to secure the win.

28. 320 Games – Denver Broncos: We now get to the teams that have gone 20Torrance Small seasons or more without allowing a player to gain 200 yards receiving in a single game. For the Broncos you have to go all the way back to Christmas Eve 1994 in a game against the Saints. Third year wideout Torrance Small torched the Broncos for six catches gaining 200 yards and two scores. Small’s two touchdowns accounted for 111 of his yards including a 75 yard bomb in the third quarter that gave the Saints a 10 point lead. New Orleans pulled out the win 30-28 and both teams finished the year 7-9. Small had never had even a 100 yard game in his career to this point, and would even go another four years before having a 100 yard game while in a Colts uniform in 1998. A few players have been close since that day in 1994 but Denver has kept the string going.

29. 335 Games – New England Patriots: The Pats streak is just 15 games longer thenIrving Fryar Denver’s as the last time New England allowed a 200 yard receiver was also back in 1994. And it was to one of the franchises former Number 1 Overall Draft Picks. Irving Fryar, the top pick in the 1984 draft, came back to haunt the Patriots as a member of the Dolphins and finally displaying the downfield speed and great hands that made Fryar a top prospect. September 4th, Fryar at the age of 31 grabbed five passes for 211 yards and three long scores. His touchdowns covered 54, 50 and 35 yards with the last one being the winning score. Marino threw for 473 yards and five scores while the Pats young gunslinger Drew Bledsoe passed for 421 yards and 4 touchdowns. It was the only game that New England allowed a 200 yard receiver since 1965.

30. 456 Games – New York Giants: The Giants have been historically a team knownGary Clark for a tough defense. Even in the days of not having a Hall of Famer or a household name on that side of the ball, New York still seemed to represent hard nosed defense. And this is part of that proof as you have to go all the way back to 1986 to find the last time the Giants gave up a 200 yard receiving game. October 27th in a divisional showdown with the Washington Redskins, Gary Clark in only his second season in the NFL after spending some time in the USFL had a field day with 11 catches for 241 yards and a touchdown. The small and speedy Clark ran circles around the G-Men but New York would get the last laugh winning the game 27-20 and then later eliminating Washington in the NFC Championship Game 17-0 to advance to the Franchises’ first Super Bowl appearance and win. It has been 28 full seasons since the last time the Giants allowed a 200 yard receiver. Can New York make it 29?

31. 478 Games – Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks have been a bit of an oddity whenWes Chandler it comes to this stat. For many years Seattle has been a bad team. An expansion team in 1976, the Seahawks have had some stars on offense but defense was never really its calling card. Not until recently under Pete Carroll. In its 39 season history the Seahawks have had a Top 10 overall Defense only 12 times with four of those coming in the past four seasons. There was a three year stretch from 1984-1986 in which the Seahawks ranked 5th, 8th and 8th in overall D, and that is where you have to go back to find the only time Seattle has allowed a 200 yard receiver regular season or playoffs. September 15th of 1985, the Chargers Wes Chandler wrote his name into the Seahawks record books as the first and the last to record 200 yards receiving in a single game. Chandler grabbed 13 passes from Hall of Famer Dan Fouts for 243 yards and a score. But it was another receiver from Seattle who would take the lead in this game, and no it wasn’t Steve Largent. Daryl Turner, a tall second year receiver out of Michigan State had the game of his life with seven catches for 121 yards and four touchdowns. Seattle scored four straight times from the third to the fourth quarter, including three touchdowns from Turner, and took the lead for good getting the win 49-35.

And now for the team that has gone the longest time without allowing a 200 yard receiver.

32. 612 Games – Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The 612 games played by the Bucs are the team’s entire franchise history. That is correct, so stop rubbing your eyes and pinching yourself to see if you have imagined this information. Tampa has yet to allow a single player to have a 200 yard receiving game. Even in 15 playoff games no player has achieved this mark. Through the 0-26 franchise start, 23 seasons of double digit losses and 19 seasons of the Defense ranking 20th or worse the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have never allowed anyone a 200 yard receiving day. And so in the Buccaneers Media Guide, on page 410 under the heading “Opponents Records/Individual” you will see thisBucs media guide

That’s right the best receiving game ever against the Bucs is a 199 yard game by Hakeem Nicks for the Giants September 16th of 2012 in a 41-34 New York win.

So now you have a great piece of info that you can amaze your friends with. How much longer will the Buccaneers go before someone, anyone can gain 200 yards receiving against the Franchise from west Florida? Ah part of the fun of watching.

The Last Time: A Franchise Allowed a 200 Yard Receiver Part I

Eric Decker had the most recent 200 yard receiving game.

Eric Decker had the most recent 200 yard receiving game.

Ever wonder when was the last time a player had a big game, the last time there was a return of 100 yards or more, the last time a team allowed a big game to an individual, etc, etc? I do all the time. And being in broadcasting team media guides and game notes are a great place to find this information.

But have you ever wanted to see a certain stat or type of game for each team in one place? Me to. That is why I am beginning this series of “The Last Time:”

72_Richard_Caster_football_cardFor the first in this series of “The Last Time,” I take a look at the last time that each NFL Franchise allowed a 200 yard receiver in a single game since the NFL/AFL Merger in 1970. There have been 118 total games in which a player hit the two century mark in a game. In fact the first to get to 200 after the merger was Rich Caster a Tight End for the New York Jets in 1972. He had six catches for 204 yards and three scores in a 44-34 win over the Baltimore Colts. Caster finished the season with 833 yards and 10 touchdowns both career highs.

You can even see the rise of the passing game in correlation with the increase in the number of 200 yard games. In the 1970’s there were 11 such individual performances. In the 1980’s there were 23, the 1990’s also had 23. The biggest increase has come after the turn of the century. In the first decade the total increased from 23 to 28. And even though we are only half way through this decade there have already been 33 games in which a player had 200 yards receiving.

And now on to the main part of this article. When was the last time a franchise allowed a 200 yard receiver? 19 teams have permitted a player from the opposing team to gain 200 yards of open field in the past five seasons (since 2010). However, some have kept a string going for many years of not allowing an individual to get to 200.

So here is the first half of the teams in order of the most recent to the most amount of games since “The Last Time.”

1. 0 Games – Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins had made it almost through a 19th season without allowing a 200 yard game but Miami just couldn’t quite finish it out. Eric Decker of the New York Jets grabbed 10 passes for 221 yards and a score December 28th of this past season. In the final game of the year Decker’s performance helped propel the Jets to a 37-24 win. Decker finished the season 38 yards short of his third straight 1,000 yard season, in his first campaign with the Jets. For Miami in fact, the last time before this that the Dolphins let a receiver gain 200 yards was Isaac Bruce of the Rams in the last game of the 1995 season. Once again breaking an almost 19 season run (1976 by Ron Jessie of the Los Angeles Rams).

AJ GreenT2. 3 Games – Pittsburgh Steelers: After the merger, the Steel Curtain did not allow a single receiver to gain 200 in a game until Eddie Brown of the Bengals in 1988. Pittsburgh went another 10 years before it happened again by another Bengal (Carl Pickens) in 1998. It happened again in 1999, but then the Defense put together some great years until just recently. Pittsburgh’s defense has been going through a transition and has had a few rough seasons. Josh Gordon lit up Pittsburgh in 2013 but it wasn’t the last time. In the 13th game of 2014, December 7, A.J. Green from the Cincinnati Bengals (Cincinnati for a third time) roughed up the Steeler D with 11 catches for 224 yards and a touchdown. Luckily for the weakened Steel Curtain, Pittsburgh’s offense had an incredible year and put up the points for the 42-21 win.

T2. 3 Games – Green Bay Packers: The Packers have had an issue with allowing receivers over 200 yards (four times in the past three years). And what is worse about this stat is that the Packers had not allowed a single 200 yard receiving game since even 1960 until 2012. The most recent came on a Monday Night December 8th of this past season with the Falcons Julio Jones exploding for 11 catches and 259 yards with one TD. Green Bay with its offensive firepower was still able to push out the win 43-37.

4. 4 Games – Tennessee Titans: The Titans have only allowed two 200 yard games since the 1970 merger. And both have gone to receivers from the Houston Texans. How ironic. The first was Andre Johnson in 2008 and the most recent belonged to DeAndre Hopkins. November 30th of this past year in the 12th game of the season, Hopkins torched the Titans Defense with nine receptions for 238 yards and two touchdowns as Houston (Texans that is) won the game 45-21 over the former Houston franchise (Oilers that is).

Tracy Porter, Mike Evans5. 6 Games – Washington Redskins: We go back to only the 10th game of this past season November 16th and it was a rookie that dominated deep downfield against Washington. The Redskins Defense couldn’t stop the Buccaneers’ Mike Evans as the big kid from Texas A&M grabbed seven passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns. The offensive malfunctions in our Nation’s Capital could not keep pace with Evans as Tampa won the game 27-7. But, Washington has been able to put long distances between allowing such games since 1970. The Redskins gave way to five of these games in the 1960’s but after the merger it took until Jerry Rice in 1986. The next came in 1993 (Reggie Langhorne of the Colts) and now 21 years later the big rookie broke the string.

6. 10 Games – Houston Texans: J.J. Watt is a dominant defensive force but he needs help behind him. And the Texans had a hard time trying to contain the speedy T.Y. Hilton. The third year explosive receiver caught nine passes for 223 yards and a score October 9th of 2014. Houston lost the game 33-28 as the Colts were beginning to take control of the AFC South yet again. Hilton has become one of Andrew Luck’s favorite targets and with his speed he could very easily be the name on this list for another team this coming season.

Demaryius Thomas7. 12 Games – Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals from St. Louis, kept receivers from gaining 200 yards until a Replacement Player named Anthony Allen of the Washington Redskins exploded for a Washington team record 255 yards in 1987. Since, Arizona has been tagged with five more for a total of six, tied for fourth worst since the merger. We are still in the 2014 season and even with the great Defense of the Cardinals, Denver’s Demaryius Thomas had his way with Arizona. In the 41-20 victory, Thomas caught eight balls for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Even with an excellent Defense, the Broncos were able to carve its way downfield with Thomas leading the way for his first of what may be several 200 yard games.

8. 14 Games – New York Jets: And finally the last, or rather the first of 2014, Jordy Nelson and the Green Bay Packers had the fireworks to make it by the Jets 31-24. September 14th Nelson caught nine passes for 209 yards and a score. For Nelson it was his first career 200 yard game and the first for the Packers since Javon Walker in 2004. Jordy Nelson also broke a long string of games for the Jets as Gang Green had not allowed a 200 yard receiver since Mark Duper in 1985.

T9. 20 Games – Jacksonville Jaguars: Head Coach Gus Bradley is looking to make the Jags D over into his image that he helped create in Seattle. Well, on a high note from a rough 3-13 season in 2014, Jacksonville did not allow a single receiver to gain over 200. Gave up an average of 243 yards a game but not 200 to one player. The Jaguars last time was December 1, 2013 during Josh Gordon’s amazing season. Gordon became the only weapon for the Cleveland Browns during a four win season and grabbed 10 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns in this one. Jacksonville won the game however 32-28. This was only the third such game since Jacksonville joined the NFL in 1995.

Alshon JefferyT9. 20 Games – Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have been known for great defenses. The Purple People Eaters, the Chris Doleman led group in the late 80’s, John Randle running amuck and Jared Allen with the Williams Wall but lately there have been some issues on this side of the line for Minnesota. But it has been at least since December 1st of 2013 allowing a 200 yard receiver. Alshon Jeffery for the Bears put up his second two century game of the year (see the New Orleans Saints) grabbing 12 passes for 249 yards and two scores. However, the Vikings got the win in OT by a Blair Walsh field goal powered by 211 yards rushing by Adrian Peterson who reached 10,000 career rushing yards in this game. Of course, this game features a future research project for myself as in a receiver and a runner both with 200 yard games from opposite teams.

T11. 24 Games – Indianapolis Colts: Since the 1970 merger, the Colts have been the team to allow the most 200 yard individual receiving games with nine. Five of those have come since 2001. The last time was November 3, 2013 as Andre Johnson blew up the Colts with nine grabs for 229 yards and three touchdowns. The Texans were in the midst of an awful season and were looking to play a little spoiler on Andrew Luck and the Colts. Johnson scored the only TDs of the game for Houston and got all three in the first half. T.Y. Hilton scored three times in the last 16 minutes to get the win for Indy 27-24. The Texans finished the season 2-14.

Calvin JohnsonT11. 24 Games – Dallas Cowboys: When the Cowboys do something they go big. And this game was no different. Calvin Johnson went for an almost record 329 yards October 27, 2013 for the Lions. Johnson had 14 catches in the game and one touchdown (of only 5 yards). Dallas could not stop Megatron as Matthew Stafford found his big target every time the Lions needed a big gain to keep it going. The Cowboys had the lead 30-24 with 1:02 left in the game but once again could not stop Johnson. Along with a 40 yard grab by Kris Durham, Johnson gained his final 39 yards to go over 300 as Detroit got down to the one and Stafford broke the goal line. David Akers hit the extra point and the Lions escaped with a 31-30 win at home. For Dallas it was the first 200 yard game since back to back weeks in 2010.

13. 27 Games – New Orleans Saints: Here was Alshon Jeffery for the first time of the year as he showed his incredible ability to go up and pull down the tough catch. The Saints since the merger are the third worst in allowing 200 yard receiving games with seven. However, none of those games came during the franchises early “Aint’s” days. All seven have come since 1987, once New Orleans had turned into a potential perennial playoff contender (say that three times fast). In this one, Jeffery grabbed 10 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown as the Bears lost (also lost to Vikings as Jeffery and the Bears are 0-2 in his 200 yard days) 26-18 October 6, 2013.

14. 33 Games – Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons are the second worst when it comes to allowing receivers to gain over 200 yards with eight all since 1979. But, Atlanta seems to have some good luck with a 4-3-1 record in those games. And the last time December 22nd of 2012 was no different. Calvin Johnson dominated a defensive backfield once again as he has done so many times. Megatron pulled in 11 passes for 225 yards but Atlanta kept him out of the end zone. The Falcons won 31-18 on the way to a 13-3 record and making it to the NFC Championship Game for the third time in franchise history.

15. 50 Games – Oakland Raiders: It had been 34 years since the Raiders allowed John McDaniel of the Bengals 201 yards in a game in 1976. But then it happened two seasons in a row. Malcolm Floyd for the Chargers in 2010 and then Calvin Johnson as the last time in 2011. The Raiders have now been able to string together a little success but only in this particular department. December 18th of 2011 Calvin Johnson hauled in nine passes for 214 yards and two scores including the game winning score with 39 seconds to go. The Raiders lost 28-27 despite leading by 13 with 7:47 left in the game. Calvin Johnson appears on this list three times and if he can stay healthy all season long in 2015, there is a good chance he can be on again, even with Golden Tate on the other side.

Wes Welker16. 61 Games – Buffalo Bills: The Bills had typically gone long periods in between allowing a 200 yard receiving game. The first after the merger was Mark Duper in 1983 for Miami. Then it took 22 years until Chris Chambers of once again the Dolphins in 2005. Well this time it only took six years, but at least this time it was to another team. Although, he did play for the Dolphins once. Wes Welker of the Patriots September 25, 2011 achieved his first 200 yard game in his 114th career game. Welker set career highs with 16 catches for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Tom Brady torched the Bills in the first half with three quick scoring strikes including one to Welker. But Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills got the best of Brady intercepting Tom Terrific three times in the second half and scoring 17 points in the final quarter to get the 34-31 win. The teams went in opposite directions as Buffalo started the year 3-0 but then fell apart going 3-10 after the win over New England. The Patriots finished 13-3 and went on to another Super Bowl against the Giants (we all know what happened there).

So there is the first half of the list. Stay tuned as later today the second half will be coming up including teams that have not allowed a 200 yard receiving game to anyone in over 30 years. Or for that matter ever. Tune in for Part II to find out.

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.

The Story of the 2013 Marshall Softball Team: Part II Theme

So much plotting, planning and adjusting goes into making a video such as “The Story of the 2013 Marshall Softball Team.” After getting through the Opening and introducing the story, I needed a great way to get the feel across to the audience that this was a very special group and time in the program’s history.

As I have already stated that I was modeling this project after the NFL Films series “America’s Game” the best way to accomplish this I believed was with great music and a combination of showing the players (and of course their names) and the Championship hardware that came along with the Title.

I had already purchased the “America’s Game” soundtrack so I had the music that I needed. The theme music for the series has the best mix of emotional and powerful music for this segment.

Next I needed to find a great way to showcase each player that would be just a quick

Bri getting herself ready to be in front of the camera.

Bri getting herself ready to be in front of the camera.

few seconds clip, just long enough to see their face and read their names. Luckily, I had thought about this the second time I had to go through and cut up the interviews after my external hard drive Smile Jessica Ferrickhad gone kaput. As I went through the video it was necessary to find a quick spot of each one with a smile on their face. Once again it goes back to making sure to get the feel and emotion to the audience that this is a great and special group, who loved each other and what they were doing and a big smile is the best way to get what I was looking for.

The last piece was the look of the Championship hardware; the Trophy, the Ring and the Hat. The Ring and the Hat would be the easiest to do first since I had both in my apartment. The background had to be something simple that it would not take away H1240002from the object. The best bet was a black blanket, a CUSA blanket no less. Next, I turned the lights on as bright as I could it get in my living room and with the use of the blanket held the Championship Ring with my fingers from behind the blanket so I could get the Ring to turn and to shine with the lights. The Championship Hat was the of course the most simple to do as I just laid it down on the blanket, zoomed in so I could have mainly the Hat and then panned across to get the full words of “CUSA 2013 Softball Champions Marshall.” Those words still sound amazing.

I knew that I could not find just a general picture of the CUSA Championship Trophy CIMG9394with a black background. My best bet was to grab the camera and the black blanket, head over to the Clubhouse, grab the trophy and try to set up my own “studio” shot. Having to create something out of what was around me, I took one of our big ice coolers with wheels that has a handle in the back so you can pull it around. I figured I could set up the blanket over the handle and the cooler was big enough to sit the trophy on without worrying about it falling off. Can’t break the Trophy when trying to make a video about winning the Title.

Once I had my “studio” set up with the trophy, I got as close as I could so as to clearly zoom in on the trophy and be able to see it without getting anything else from the background and even from behind me as the Trophy is nice and shiny. After playing around with this setup for about 30 minutes I finally had the shot.

Having all of the pieces I needed to make sure of the order for the Theme. The Trophy seemed to be the best to start to once again introduce to the audience that this was the goal from the beginning. To see that Trophy with the name Marshall University across the bottom. Next I went with a general, but bright and powerful looking picture of the Marshall Thundering Herd logo to feature the title of the video and transition to showcasing the players.

There were a few different ways that I could bring up each player with their name as I rolled through the roster. I could go in alphabetical order, numerical order or go with the starters and main players first. While considering these aspects I thought about the Seniors. This team would not have been able to accomplish what it did without the dedication, fight and push from these six ladies. So, the decision became go in order of class. Start with the Seniors, to the Juniors, the Sophomores and then end with the Freshmen. And if anyone thought I was playing any favorites with the order from there, I put each class in numerical order from their jersey number. Covering all bases, so to speak, I placed each player up with their name so now the audience could be familiar with everyone that they will see throughout the video. Just in case they don’t have the roster memorized the way I do.

After rolling through the roster, I saved showcasing the Ring and the Hat until toward the end where the power and the tempo of the music really picked up. This was the best place to bring back out the Championship accessories that come with winning the Title.

And or course the only way to end the Theme, the Championship Team photo.

team photo 2The setup was there for the video and for the audience to begin the journey through the Tournament for the Title as the Championship photo and the music slowly faded out.

Enjoy the “Theme” and stay tuned for more of the Quest to be the best team in Marshall Softball History as it continues right here on the sportsmenublog.

The Story of the 2013 Marshall Softball Team: Part I The Opening

The 2013 Marshall Softball Team

The 2013 Marshall Softball Team


That was the word that described the 2013 Marshall University Softball Team. A team made up of a group of individuals who came together during a magical season that they knew could end with a Title.

At the end of the 2012 season, one in which the Herd lost in the Championship Game to Tulsa 3-2, I started thinking if I would ever get to experience a Championship with Marshall. It was the end of my 9th season with MUSB and the 3rd time that ended with a Championship Game loss. We lost in the MAC Title Game in 2005, and in the CUSA Championship in 2006 and 2012. Every year, in so many teams’ media guides you see a Championship Team holding its Conference Trophy and the Championship banner. I would read about the team going to the NCAA Regional Tournament and then possibly even further allowing the players to dream big. There were pictures and videos of team celebrations, team get togethers to watch the NCAA Selection Show on ESPN to see where they were going and who they would play. The smiles, the laughter and the tears all coming together at once knowing that a years worth of hard work came to fruition and they had a chance that only 63 other teams out of 300+ would have. To chase a National Title. The question that began rolling through my mind; would I ever get to see our girls celebrate and have that opportunity to go after a childhood dream of playing in the big tournaments in front of huge crowds and go after that NCAA Championship?

That summer I spent many hours watching NFL Network and of course anything that NFL Films produced. One of my favorites was the “America’s Game” series highlighting a team that won the Super Bowl. Then there are even a few called “The Missing Rings” about teams that were so good and came so close and did not win it all. Now as far back as I can remember I have been a huge fan of NFL Films and was always enamored with the productions. The video mixed with the music, the narration and the play-by-play radio calls were always a perfect combination. I often thought if we could just win at least one CUSA Title, that I would make a video like that for our team to showcase to the school, the city, the fans and anyone else what a special team we had at Marshall. After 2012 I started to think maybe I should produce a video more like “The Missing Rings.” But the determination I saw in the fall of 2012, not only from the Coaches but the players as well made me think, I might get to do a Championship video after all.

The girls came back with a new found fire after losing in 2012. We were a team that wasn’t supposed to play in the Title game, but not only did they get there but had a chance to win. In the fall, led by the Seniors of Ashley Gue, Jazmine Valle, Alysia Hively, Andi Williamson, Bri Anna Hope and Jessica Ferrick this team looked as if there would be nothing short of Ring at the end of the year. Plus Head Coach Shonda Stanton kept telling the team all year that they would be the best team in Marshall Softball History. And they did just that.

There were some bumps in the road in the fall and even in the beginning of the spring semester. There were many bumps as the season began. But suddenly it all clicked for the Herd. A 14 game winning streak including CUSA series sweeps over UCF, Southern Miss and Memphis put Marshall on the fast track and made the whole conference aware that there was a team on the banks of the Ohio River that was armed and dangerous. The winning streak came to an end in the 2nd game of the series with the Houston Cougars, but then Marshall came back firing and defeated one of the top teams in CUSA on National TV in Houston.

The Herd went into the Tournament as the 4 seed and proceeded to claw its way to the final game that Saturday. After eliminating East Carolina (ECU) and the University of Alabama-Birmingham (UAB) the Herd took on the 2nd ranked conference team in Houston. I will go into details with each game as I share each part of the video. The Cougars were on the way out of CUSA as it was headed for “greener” pastures in the newly renamed American Athletic Conference (the former Big East). However, Marshall rained on the parade controlling the game from the beginning and winning 3-1.

Finally I was able to see our girls celebrate. To smile, to laugh, to jump into each others arms knowing that they accomplished the main goal that was set at the beginning of the year. I was on the radio for the game and it was an absolute joy to get to announce to the world “The Marshall Thundering Herd are your 2013 Conference USA Tournament Champions!!!”

Now, to make this video that I had already been thinking about for over a year was going to take a lot of time, effort and some coordination in getting everyone involved. In the “America’s Game” series, they talk to generally two players and the Head Coach to have them tell the story of the season and the journey to the Super Bowl winners stage. I didn’t want to talk to just a couple players. Our roster was used from top to bottom. Everybody played a part throughout the journey and even if they did not see the field in the postseason they played a big role.

So I began to think of just how I wanted to proceed. I knew that I needed to come up with a list of questions to lead them through the season. Not everyone would be able to just tell the story off the top of their head. But before I could start writing the questions, I had to look at the direction I wanted to take. I decided that since the team had lost the year before I would start there and use that as the basis to the goal that was laid out in the fall. There wouldn’t be much time spent on talking about the fall and I also didn’t want to spend much time on the regular season. More or less it was to hit some of the highs and lows that all played a part in getting to the Tournament and then the lessons learned in fighting through each round.

And so I wrote out all of the questions. I ended up with four pages worth that I planned on asking each player I spoke with. I did start to fight with the idea of talking to all 20 players from that team. I knew that there were certain players that I would spend more time on and be featured in the video a little more, but you can also never know the perspective that someone else might be able to give. A great quote, an important moment that could all lead to a great point in the season.

After getting all of the questions written, and deciding how I wanted to try and interview the players (and where to shoot as well), I went to Coach Stanton to tell her my idea. I told her that I planned on working on this project all throughout the fall and having it ready in time for the team banquet at the beginning of February. She loved the idea, especially having it for the banquet, and had a few suggestions for where and when I could do the interviews. The interviews could be conducted in the clubhouse as it would be a comfortable setting for each player. I knew that I could easily interview most everyone as they were still there either on the team or at Marshall. The only player that would be a problem was Bri Anna Hope.

Bri was a senior and a major contributor from the year before and also someone that I knew would just light up in front of the camera and be able to offer some great soundbites and insights into the season. However, she was the only senior who had left town and moved back to her home town in Texas. Once the semester got rolling I sent a message to Bri to see how we might try and get this done. I sent her a link to a clip of Ray Lewis and Joe Flacco talking about the Ravens run to the Super Bowl from the newest edition of “America’s Game” and she loved the idea. Luckily for me she said she planned on coming back to town for our Alumni Weekend in October. Perfect, I could start the interviews then as it would also be getting close to the end of Fall Ball and it would be easier to get players to come to the clubhouse for interviews and a chance for it to be quiet and not get disturbed during filming.

After a practice I got the whole team together and showed them the clip of Lewis & Flacco and explained how I wanted this whole production to go. I told them that is all about them. They were to tell the story of what happened, what they were thinking at the time and the feelings and emotions of the moment. I said do not just regurgitate facts, but to tell me the story like they were telling a friend or a family member. I told them if any emotions come out during filming just let it out. If something made them laugh or tear up just let the it flow as that makes the video more personable and shows how much they had invested in the journey. Many expressed concerns about remembering everything and that is when I showed them my four pages of questions and said not to worry that I would lead them through. I also told them if they didn’t remember every moment don’t be concerned as that was another reason why I wanted to talk to the whole team.

Bri was my first interview and she absolutely blew it out of the water. She gave me everything that I asked for. She had great energy, great insights and most importantly emotion in telling me the story. It took over an hour to finish the interview and when it was over I thought, wow I could do the entire video with just her. I think she spoiled me a little for the rest of the process.

I continued to conduct the interviews with the rest of the team over the next couple of months. Sitting each player down on a couch in the clubhouse and putting the camera in front of them and having them just spill their hearts out about such a magical year.

Once I finished the interviews I started sifting through the 20+ hours of video I had to look for the best quotes & stories from each girl. I made a folder for each player and cut and saved every clip that I thought I could possibly use. Going through this process I started to wonder if I will get this video done in time. It was very time consuming going through each interview and of course I was looking at an exploding amount of video footage.

As I was nearing the finish on this part, some very bad luck came my way. My external hard drive crashed. Everything had been saved to that hard drive. The video clips of the 2013 season, the highlights, the broken down interviews, everything was there and then gone. I plugged it into the computer and all it did was click. I talked to our IT guys at Marshall and they told me that was bad news. The only way to fix it was to send it off to a company that can attempt to pull all of the data, but it might take a month and cost over $1,000. Well that was out of the question.

So now what do I do. The team was planning on this video for the banquet in now less than six weeks and everything I accomplished was gone. I started looking at what I did have. The interviews were still saved on the camera. The video of the CUSA Tournament games were also on the camera and we had the TV footage of the Championship Game and the NCAA Regional games on DVDs. I still had the music I was planning to use and our Sports Information contact still had the pictures from both tournaments. Another big fan of ours, Lori Thompson, who is also a Marshall grad, takes great pictures and works in the Library for archiving had taken many shots during the Championship game and Regionals. I asked her if I could use some of her photos and she said have at it, whatever I needed she would let me have access. I asked the players and the coaches to send me any pictures they have or that the families may have taken. They all pitched in (pardon the pun) and helped me out. So now the project would be shortened to just focusing on the CUSA Tournament and Regionals.

The time was dwindling down. I was now going back through each interview and pulling clips again, but this time it went a little faster knowing I didn’t need to worry about the fall or regular season questions. Every day the coaches and players asked if it was going to be ready. Not to put on any pressure, but I knew the deadline and I told them don’t worry everything will be done on time.

After the interviews were cut up it was time to go through the games and find the highlights. I now worked on the project on the computer in Studio C of WMUL the campus radio station. I used the program Vegas Pro 9.0 to piece everything together. It is not the latest and greatest for video editing but it was the best I had available to me and I had lots of experience using Vegas Pro. It allows for multi tracking and being able to get everything lined up just right. I spent many hours trying to get the levels of audio where it needed to be as many of the players did not speak very loudly during filming. I unfortunately did not have access to a camera with a microphone jack so I had to use the sound straight from the camera. It wasn’t the best and several of the players I had to crank their audio up each time they talked. This of course also led to turning down the levels of the music. I am a perfectionist when it comes to that stuff and I wanted to make sure that each player could be heard clearly and the music could still be heard but not drown out the players. I think I may have spent more time with the levels then anything else. Every once in a while I asked some one at the station to come and listen to a section to make sure that they thought it all sounded clear. Sometimes a 2nd set of ears can make all the difference.

Many late nights were in front of me but the project needed to be completed. I went through all six postseason games, every inning looking for the key moments and cutting clip after clip after clip. Even with low scoring games there are still many moments that must be taken to tell the story of the game. After the videos were cut it was time to go back through the audio recordings of the broadcasts. Pulling my own highlights also allowed me to do a little self evaluation and look into what I was doing well and what I needed to improve on as a play-by-play man.

After everything was pulled, the music was selected and the pictures had been sorted through it was time to do some writing and pull it all together. I would narrate the video since I knew exactly how I wanted it to sound. Plus I have plenty of experience in broadcasting and I thought why not, could be fun.

Now before I started the interviews with the girls I knew I needed to come up with an idea of something to ask each player that I could use to start the video. That is when the idea of the one word hit me. I was listening to some NFL Films music when the word Champions popped into my head. So the first question I would ask each player was to give me one word to describe the season. I hoped that no one would say Champions as that might throw a little kink into my plans, but just a word off the top of their head. Luckily there were no kinks and I was able to get through my opening with no problem.

After many long nights and even a few with no sleep, the video was complete. I couldn’t work on it much during the day as I did have a job working at the Marshall Recreation Center. And it was finished with enough time for Coach Stanton to preview the video as it was to be played in front of a large crowd of Marshall Administrators, Boosters, family and many other key people from the community. She loved the video and asked for only one change. Luckily there was still time to make the change and it wasn’t a big part to take out. So I ran back over to the station, took out the one part, lined everything back up and re-saved the clip and had it all ready for the banquet.

We had a crowd of over just over 200 people. That was all that could fit in the room and it was the largest we ever had for our team banquet up to that point. The players kept asking me if they could see some of the video and I told them no, that they would have to wait for its debut like everyone else. I felt a little nervous leading up to the video that something would go wrong even though I tested the system several times before. Finally the moment was there. Coach Stanton introduced the video and I hit play.

So now for your enjoyment the first part of the video “The Story of the 2013 Marshall Softball Team”

The rest will follow in the coming days so stay tuned…

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


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