The Seahawks need an explosive player like Chris Johnson
With his 134 yards on Sunday, the Tennessee Titan became the sixth running back to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season.
Seattle Times staff columnist
In the end, no matter how resistant they were, the Seahawks couldn't avoid aiding history.
Chris Johnson is now Mr. 2,000, and the Seahawks are, well, done.
Lord hammercy, they're done!
Your eyeballs can stop bulging now. Your teeth can stop grinding. Your blood pressure can drop.
Guess it's only proper for the Seahawks to end a 5-11 season as an afterthought playing at home against the most electric running back in the NFL. Johnson was the only player who mattered in an otherwise pointless game. His chase for 2,000 yards even proved riveting enough to awaken a Seahawks team that seemingly overdosed on misery a month ago.
Sometimes, a playmaker can be a cure-all.
The Seahawks would be wise to make finding one a top priority this offseason.
Of course, they're not likely to find a player as explosive as Johnson. He soared to rarefied game-breaking heights Sunday. Despite a spirited effort from Seattle, which had performed as if inanimate for most of the past three Sundays, Johnson still became the sixth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards. He needed 128 coming into the game. He managed 134 in an unyielding, 36-carry effort.
Sometimes, history aches. The Seahawks did everything they could to keep Johnson from history, except for maybe the "Sweep the leg! No mercy!" tactic from "The Karate Kid." They employed a punish-and-prevent defensive approach. They hit him hard, hit him often and hit him with a gang of tacklers on every play. They made him fumble once and helped give this game some spunk.
Yet at the end, there was Johnson, grinning with his gold grill.
He reached 2,006 yards for the season and celebrated by scoring the game-winning touchdown in a 17-13 Titans victory at Qwest Field. After all the touches and abuse, Johnson still looked fresh afterward.
"I'm not really tired," he said. "I'm just happy about getting 2,000 yards and the victory. (The workload) is not weighing me down or anything like that. I'm not paying too much attention to that."
If only the Seahawks had a player of Johnson's ilk. If only they had someone who was a threat to make big plays regularly, who could command a defense's attention and remain productive.
Seahawks offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and the offensive line receive the brunt of the blame for that unit's ineffectiveness. But even if the Seahawks had a decent line and extraordinary play-calling, they'd still be lacking at the skill positions. They don't have a legitimate starting running back. They don't have wide receivers who scare you. Tight end John Carlson is a good player who didn't get the ball enough this season, but he can't carry an offense.
On the other side of the field, Johnson rescued a Tennessee team with an elementary offensive system. The Titans, who went from Super Bowl contenders to 8-8 this season, weren't without their struggles. But after an 0-6 start, they found their way, mostly because they had an incredible player to guide them.
And this was just his second NFL season.
"I am just glad he is on our team," Titans free safety Michael Griffin said.
How glad? Griffin contrasted Johnson with Seahawks second-year running back Justin Forsett.
"Some of the runs that Forsett had today, I would hate for that to be Chris Johnson," Griffin said. "He would have gotten around that corner, and touchdown guaranteed."
It's no knock on Forsett. He's a solid, change-of-pace running back. He fights for all his yards. He breaks tackles that drop Julius Jones. But Forsett doesn't run the 40-yard dash in 4.24 seconds. Johnson does. And his speed means everything to the Titans' offense.
Johnson showcased it in the fourth quarter with a 62-yard touchdown run. He would've reached 2,000 yards on that play, in grand fashion, but it was negated because of an iffy holding penalty on Titans fullback Ahmard Hall.
If that play had held up, Johnson would've had an outside chance at breaking Eric Dickerson's season rushing record of 2,105 yards. Johnson seemed as disappointed at falling short of that mark as he was elated about surpassing 2,000.
"It's a little disappointing, but that big run being called back, that hurt us a lot," said Johnson, who set an NFL record with 2,509 yards from scrimmage this season. "It's kind of a disappointment, but it's only my second year, so I'm sure I'll have another opportunity to do that."
This once-in-a-lifetime season is just the start in Johnson's mind. Meanwhile, if you add up the yardage of the Seahawks' leading rushers the past three years, the total is just 71 yards more than what Johnson did this season.
History, meet futility. You couldn't be any more different.
Jerry Brewer: 206-464-2277 or firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @Jerry_Brewer
|The 2,000-yard club|
|Tennessee's Chris Johnson became the sixth player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season, and the second to surpass that mark in a regular-season finale against Seattle. Terrell Davis ran for 178 yards in the final game of the 1998 season, which was also Dennis Erickson's final game as Seahawks coach:|
|*Accomplished in a 14-game season.|
About Jerry Brewer
Jerry Brewer offers a unique perspective on the world of sports.
email@example.com | 206-464-2277
Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom describes some of the factors that may have led to the collapse of the I-5 bridge over the Skagit River in Mount Vernon on Thursday, May 23.