The absolute worst place to be driven out of bounds: Luckily the joker, Shrek, lady Robin, and that orange-haired creature are all on Torrey Smith’s side since they live deep in the bowels of the Ravens’ home field and only come out once a year.
Little known facts: Shrek is actually Baltimore’s offensive coordinator, and the Joker is actually Ray Lewis.
Best retro performance: It felt like 2006 in St. Louis, and not just because the Cardinals are World Series champs again.
At the age of 28 Steven Jackson is rapidly approaching the rocking chair phase of his career, a time when formerly routine performances become special and exceptional. That’s pretty much what happened today when Jackson finished with 159 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, leading a Rams rushing offense that made the Saints defense do its best Rams impersonation while trying to stop the run.
Most disgusting start to a season in the all-time history of the NFL, and possibly of sports and life: Chris Johnson still sucks, and there’s no conceivable or believable excuse. The Titans held a lead throughout their win over the Colts, and at one point the gap was 20 points. Johnson was running against a defense that prior to today was only ahead of the Rams in terms of stopping the run, which means they’re woefully and tragically awful (the Colts were allowing 150.9 yards per game against the run). And as far as we know he’s fully healthy.
There’s no reason why a player with such tremendous burst should be this bad for this long, and after eight games we’re also far past the point where Johnson’s training camp contract holdout is an acceptable crutch. At one point in the second quarter today he had just one yard on four carries, which prompted the only logical move for Tennessee’s offense in the second half.
Late in the game the Titans needed a reliable runner to grind down the clock and put the sleeper hold on Indianapolis, and the ball wasn’t placed in Johnson’s hands as it has so often over the past few seasons. Instead Javon Ringer’s number was called, and a running back who’s usually buried as Johnson’s backup received 10 carries in the fourth quarter, while Johnson only had one.
The boxscore will reflect an even distribution, with both runners getting 14 carries apiece. But Ringer nearly doubled Johnson’s production (60 rushing yards to 34), while ascending to become the Titans’ fourth quarter battering ram. We’re actually reaching a point where a platoon situation in the Tennessee backfield isn’t an outlandish or preposterous idea.
Poor games were once an anomaly for Johnson, but now the opposite is true. In Week 4 he had 101 rushing yards against Houston, and now in Tennessee’s other six games combined he has just 201 yards for a meek average of 33.5 yards per game.
Most depressing first half in the all-time history of the NFL for running backs: Forget about Johnson’s start, and his continued struggles. Sure, they’re notable, which is why we noted them, but that’s a continued trend of terribleness. What’s surprising is that Adrian Peterson nearly equaled Johnson’s abysmal first half with just 14 yards on eight carries. For those keeping score of such random matters, between Johnson and Peterson two running backs who both averaged over 85 rushing yards per game last year combined for just 27 first half yards.
Of course the glaring contrast between the two is that we still have faith in Peterson’s ability to turn around a poor first half, or at the very least find other ways to contribute if he’s being stymied as a pure rusher. Today, he did both.
At first when he was stone-walled by a usually weak Carolina run defense Peterson turned to the air, showing his versatility by becoming a reliable safety valve for rookie Christian Ponder out of the backfield with three receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown in the first half. Then, after consistent pounding, the Panther wall finally crumbled, and Peterson had 73 second half rushing yards.
Worst guy to sit behind: Big Bird is a kind, lovable, and bright character who has taught kids how to count and properly sing songs about the letters of the alphabet. But football is far too violent for a mutant bird. (again via Mocksession.com)
Most senseless score: Originally this award was titled “most boring score,” because since we’re so diligent and dedicated we often work ahead before a game has concluded, and at the time the Saints/Rams game was the perfect remedy for insomnia. Unbelievably, with only a few minutes left in the first half there were zeros on the scoreboard for both teams.
Thankfully, we don’t write damning statements on rock-like surfaces around here, because in the last six minutes of the second quarter St. Louis scored 17 points, leading to a score that was far from boring, and an improbable 31-21 win by a team with A.J. Feeley as its starting quarterback.
It was as though these two teams switched personalities for an afternoon. Over their last three games the Rams had given up 586 rushing yards, rounding out to a pretty gruesome 195.3 yards per game over that stretch. But today they held New Orleans’ three-headed monstrosity to just 56 yards on the ground. Meanwhile Jackson had his aforementioned adventure in his time machine, and the dominance of St. Louis’ defensive line was highlighted by Chris Long’s feats of strength.
A usually sound Saints offensive line that was averaging 1.8 sacks per game watched as Drew Bress crumpled to the ground six times today, three of which were while he was in Long’s grasp.
Easiest opportunity for an obvious statement: Patrick Peterson sure seems to be riding this whole athletic, electrifying thing quite well…