Seattle – Two teams, no postseason hopes, and on the surface one meaningless NFL football game.
Would it have mattered if the Seattle Seahawks somehow managed to finish 6-10, instead of 5-11? Probably not, other than actually hurting them in the NFL draft come April.
Would it have mattered if the Tennessee Titans finished 7-9, instead of 8-8? Not really. Yes, finishing at .500 is better than not, but it’s not as if there were some cash bonus for it.
Titans coach Jeff Fisher admitted as much.
“There are probably 16 or 18 teams today that didn’t have much to play for other than a win, and maybe the future,” Fisher said. “One exception with that was our football team that had a lot to play for today.”
While Titans tailback Chris Johnson didn’t vault to the top the record book in NFL rushing lore, he did manage to achieve heights only five other NFL running backs have reached in Tennessee’s 17-13 win over Seattle on Sunday at Qwest Field.
The second-year back out of East Carolina rushed for 134 yards on 36 carries to become the first player since Jamal Lewis of the Cleveland Browns in 2003 to rush for more than 2,000 yards in one season.
Johnson joins Lewis (2,066), Terrell Davis of Denver (2,008 in 1998), Detroit’s Barry Sanders (2,053 in 1997), Eric Dickerson of the then L.A. Rams (2,105 in 1984) and Buffalo’s O.J. Simpson (2,003 in 1973) as the only players to break the 2,000-yard barrier.
“It means a lot for me to get to 2,000 yards,” Johnson said. “Only the sixth player ever to do it.”
While Johnson’s joins a small and distinguished group, he had hoped to be the leader. Coming into the game, he had 1,872 yards and needed 234 yards to surpass the all-time record set by Dickerson 26 years ago.
But he fell nearly 100 yards short. He still surpassed 100 yards rushing for the 11th straight game and also broke Marshall Faulk’s record for most yards from scrimmage, finishing with 2,509 for the season. But Dickerson’s record will live for another season.
“It’s a little disappointing,” Johnson said. “We still got 2,000, but that big run called back, that hurt us a lot. It’s kind of a disappointment, but it’s only my second year, so I’m sure I’ll have another opportunity of doing that.”
That big run Johnson was speaking of came early in the fourth quarter when he took a simple handoff, made a cut through a small opening and exploded into the secondary past stunned Seahawks defenders, racing 62 yards for an apparent touchdown.
But just about 3 yards from the line of scrimmage on the Qwest Field turf, a yellow penalty flag was on the ground. The play was called back for a holding call on fullback Ahmard Hall on his block on Seahawks linebacker David Hawthorne.
“I was disappointed that we had that long one called back,” Fisher said. “I haven’t seen it. I’ll look at it.”