April 18, 2014

1983: Bandits Lose Game to Express & Reaves to Injury


The Los Angeles Express had a 3-3 record, as did all three other teams in the Pacific Division of the United States Football League, as they met the Tampa Bay Bandits on April 18, 1983. Coached by Hugh Campbell, winner of five straight Grey Cups with the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos, the Express had difficulty scoring points with the quarterback tandem of veteran NFL backup Mike Rae, who started games, and rookie Tom Ramsey, who typically finished them. The defense was tough, however, especially the line that was anchored by rookie NT Eddie “Meat Cleaver” Weaver.

Tampa Bay, coached by the offensive-minded Steve Spurrier, featured an exciting aerial attack directed by veteran QB John Reaves, a former college star at Florida who had floundered in the NFL. The Bandits had won their first four games before being thrashed by the Chicago Blitz, but were 5-1 and playing at home as they faced the Express.

It was a rainy Monday night with 32,223 fans in attendance at Tampa Stadium. The quality of play was sloppy, and the first half was filled with penalties. Tampa Bay took the early lead midway through the first quarter when Zenon Andrusyshyn booted a 40-yard field goal. The Express responded on the ensuing series by going 56 yards in 12 plays that culminated in Vince Abbott kicking a 35-yard field goal with 2:25 left in the opening period. Four plays later and now into the second quarter, it was Andrusyshyn’s turn again to put the Bandits back in front with a 29-yard field goal. The series was helped along by a roughing-the-passer call on DE Dennis Edwards.

LA was helped on its next drive by two penalties on the Bandits to move into field goal position, with Abbott connecting from 36 yards. Late in the second quarter, and with the score tied at 6-6, Eddie Weaver of the Express put pressure on Reaves that caused a poorly thrown pass which was intercepted by SS Mike Fox. But with the ball at the Tampa Bay 10, the visitors couldn’t reach the end zone. NT Fred Nordgren made a shoestring tackle on RB John Barnett to save a possible score, and then Tom Ramsey dropped the snap on third down. LA came away with a 24-yard Abbott field goal as the clock ticked down to 42 seconds and took a 9-6 lead into halftime.

Down by three points in the third quarter, the Bandits stopped the Express at their own 15 and forced a punt that gave them good starting field position at their own 48. However, after advancing to the LA 42, a false start backed them up five yards and then Reaves was again picked off by Fox.

Heading into the fourth quarter, and with 12:31 to go, the Express went ahead to stay on a one-yard touchdown carry by RB John Barnett – the first LA touchdown in over ten quarters. It followed a Reaves fumble that was recovered at the Tampa Bay 17 by Dennis Edwards. The turnover was compounded by the loss of Reaves, who left the game with a broken wrist suffered while being tackled, thus forcing the fumble.

Backup QB Jimmy Jordan helped narrow the margin with a 23-yard touchdown pass to WR Danny Buggs midway through the final period, but the Bandits never threatened again for the remainder of the game. They reached the LA 40 on their final possession before giving the ball up on downs, and a roughing-the-kicker penalty kept the Express from having to give up the ball again until there were just 27 seconds left. LA added two points by dropping Jordan for a safety shortly thereafter and won by a final score of 18-13.

The offensive statistics reflected the closeness of the score. The Bandits held the edge in total yards (260 to 258) and first downs (17 to 16). The big difference was in turnovers, with Tampa Bay giving up five (four interceptions, one fumble) to none suffered by LA, even though the visitors fumbled four times. The Express defensive line put heavy pressure on the Tampa Bay quarterbacks throughout the contest and recorded five sacks, while the Bandits had two.

Mike Rae completed 13 of 25 passes for 140 yards with no touchdowns, but also no interceptions. RB Tony Boddie rushed for 59 yards on 11 carries and John Barnett was right behind with 55 yards and a TD on 19 attempts. TE Ricky Ellis led the receivers with 6 catches for 65 yards. On defense, Eddie Weaver had two sacks and Mike Fox accumulated three interceptions.

For the Bandits, John Reaves had a miserable day before leaving due to injury, completing just 7 of his 27 throws for 81 yards while giving up four interceptions. In relief, Jimmy Jordan went 8 of 10 for 97 yards and a TD with none picked off. RB Sam Platt ran for 107 yards on 21 carries and caught four passes for another 16 yards. Danny Buggs led the team with 62 yards on three pass receptions that included a TD.

“I’m very disappointed in the offense,” said Tampa Bay’s Coach Spurrier in summing up the defeat. “We didn’t play well until Jimmy (Jordan) came in. It hurts when you beat yourself. Even with doing things so poorly, we still had a chance to win.”

The Express went on to an 8-10 tally that placed them second in the mediocre Pacific Division. Eddie Weaver received All-USFL recognition from The Sporting News for his play with the league’s fifth-ranked defense, but even with upgrades to the receiving corps, the offense continued to have difficulty scoring points.

As for the Bandits, the loss that dropped them to 5-2 was all too reminiscent of the one two weeks earlier against the Blitz and a harbinger of harder times to come. Still, with Jordan at quarterback, they managed to remain competitive, even after he, in turn, went down with an injury. Tampa Bay stayed in the playoff hunt until the last week, ending up with an 11-7 record that meant a third place finish in the tough Central Division and just outside the postseason. 

April 16, 2014

MVP Profile: Craig Morton, 1977

Quarterback, Denver Broncos



Age:  34
13th season in pro football, 1st with Broncos
College: California
Height: 6’4”   Weight: 214

Prelude:
Chosen by the Dallas Cowboys in the first round of the 1965 NFL draft (he was chosen by the Raiders in the AFL), Morton saw limited action as backup to Don Meredith for four seasons before taking over as the starting quarterback in 1969. A classic dropback passer with a good arm and limited mobility, he threw for 2619 yards and 21 TDs while averaging a healthy 8.7 yards per attempt in ’69 and in 1970 the Cowboys won the NFC Championship as Morton led the league with 8.8 yards per attempt. However, he had a rough outing in the Super Bowl loss to the Colts and then lost the starting job to Roger Staubach during the ’71 season. He stepped in when Staubach went down with an injury in 1972 but went back to the bench until he was traded to the New York Giants during the ’74 season. While expectations were high, the Giants were mediocre and Morton took a beating, tossing far more interceptions (49) than touchdowns (29) over the course of 34 games, only 8 of which were wins. Following the 1976 season, he was traded to the up-and-coming Broncos.

1977 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 254 [16]
Most attempts, game – 32 vs. Oakland 10/30, at San Diego 11/13
Completions – 131 [17]
Most completions, game – 19 vs. Oakland 10/30
Yards – 1929 [13]
Most yards, game – 242 vs. Oakland 10/30
Completion percentage – 51.6 [16]
Yards per attempt – 7.6 [2]
TD passes – 14 [9]
Most TD passes, game – 2 at San Diego 11/13, vs. Baltimore 11/27, at Houston 12/4
Interceptions – 8
Most interceptions, game – 2 at Kansas City 11/20
Passer rating – 82.0 [4]
200-yard passing games – 1

Rushing
Attempts – 31
Most attempts, game – 6 (for 15 yds.) vs. St. Louis 9/18
Yards – 125
Most yards, game – 35 yards (on 5 carries) at Seattle 10/2
Yards per attempt – 4.0
TDs – 4

Scoring
TDs – 4
Points - 24

Postseason: 3 G
Pass attempts – 58
Most attempts, game - 23 vs. Pittsburgh, AFC Divisional playoff
Pass completions – 25
Most completions, game - 11 vs. Pittsburgh, AFC Divisional playoff
Passing yardage – 427
Most yards, game - 224 vs. Oakland, AFC Championship
TD passes – 4
Most TD passes, game - 2 vs. Pittsburgh, AFC Divisional playoff; vs. Oakland, AFC Championship
Interceptions – 5
Most interceptions, game – 4 vs. Dallas, Super Bowl

Rushing attempts – 7
Most rushing attempts, game – 5 (for 0 yds.) vs. Pittsburgh, AFC Divisional playoff
Rushing yards – -4
Most rushing yards, game – 0 vs. Pittsburgh, AFC Divisional playoff
Average gain rushing – -0.6
Rushing TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
AFC Player of the Year: Sporting News
NFL Comeback Player of the Year: AP
1st team All-AFC: Sporting News

Broncos went 12-2 to finish first in the AFC West with the conference’s best record, achieving the first postseason appearance in franchise history. Won AFC Divisional playoff over Pittsburgh Steelers (34-21) and AFC Championship over Oakland Raiders (20-17). Lost Super Bowl to Dallas Cowboys (27-10).

Aftermath:
The Broncos topped the AFC West again in 1978, but Morton had a lesser season and split time with backups Norris Weese and Craig Penrose. The team had trouble putting points on the board in ’79, with Morton again seeing most of the action behind center, and while his passing yards (2626) and touchdowns (16) went up, so did his interceptions (19). Matt Robinson was obtained from the Jets to challenge him in 1980, but Morton regained the starting job and, with the arrival of ex-Dallas teammate Dan Reeves as head coach in ’81, he enjoyed a revival as he achieved a career-high 3195 passing yards and tied his previous best with 21 TD passes while averaging 8.5 yards per attempt. But it was a last hurrah as he finished out his career in the strike-shortened 1982 season. Overall, Morton passed for 27,908 yards and 183 TDs, with 187 interceptions, over the course of 18 years in the NFL. 11,895 of the yards and 74 TDs came with the Broncos, where he enjoyed his greatest success and became part of that team’s Ring of Fame in 1988.

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MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). 

April 14, 2014

1984: Late Williams TD Pass Gives Outlaws Win Over Federals


The Oklahoma Outlaws were coming off of two straight closely-fought wins as they took on the Washington Federals in a United States Football League game on April 14, 1984. One of six expansion franchises for the USFL’s second season, the Outlaws were 5-2 and a game behind the defending-champion Michigan Panthers in the Central Division. Coached by Woody Widenhofer, the offense was directed by QB Doug Williams (pictured at right), formerly of the NFL Buccaneers, and had capable receivers in WR Alphonso Williams and TE Ron Wheeler, but the running game was lacking.

Washington, just as had been in the case in 1983, was a poor team and poorly supported. The Federals were a miserable 0-7 and had undergone a coaching change from Ray Jauch to Dick Bielski after a first-week blowout. There was talent in WR Joey Walters and RB Curtis Bledsoe, and second-year QB Mike Hohensee showed potential, but overall the team had little going for it.

There were just 6075 fans in attendance at RFK Stadium. The Federals scored on their first possession, with Jeff Brockhaus kicking a 40-yard field goal that was set up by Mike Hohensee throwing to WR Greg Taylor for 12 yards on a third-and-17 play that moved the home team into range. It was the first successful field goal of the year for the Federals, with the newly-acquired Brockhaus the team’s third placekicker.

Brockhaus got another field goal before the opening period was over, this time from 25 yards that was set up by a Hohensee pass to WR Mike Fisher that picked up 54 yards to the Oklahoma 11. At just under five minutes into the second quarter, the Outlaws finally got on the board when Efren Herrera booted a 24-yard field goal and the score of 6-3 held up until halftime.

Washington put together another scoring drive in the third quarter as Hohensee completed passes to Joey Walters and RB Eric Robinson, and Curtis Bledsoe had an 18-yard carry. The series culminated in a third straight Brockhaus field goal, from 43 yards.

The Outlaws took advantage of a turnover midway through the period when Hohensee fumbled after being blindsided by blitzing DB Kelvin Middleton. The ensuing possession resulted in another Herrera field goal of 28 yards that cut Washington’s lead to 9-6.

Hohensee left the game due to a head injury and Reggie Collier came in at quarterback. The Federals extended their lead to 16-6 near the end of the third quarter when Collier ran for a two-yard touchdown and Brockhaus added the extra point.

The Outlaws came back with the help of an interception by Middleton, who returned it seven yards to give Oklahoma possession at the Washington 43. Two plays later, Doug Williams threw long to Alphonso Williams for a 43-yard touchdown. Herrera kicked the extra point to make it a three-point game.

Oklahoma had a chance to tie the score with seven minutes remaining on the clock, but a bad snap doomed a 38-yard field goal try by Herrera.

Getting the ball back with four minutes to go, the Outlaws drove 93 yards in 10 plays. Doug Williams completed six of nine passes for 71 yards along the way and, with 57 seconds to play, he connected with Ron Wheeler, who was open in the corner of the end zone, for an eight-yard touchdown. It was Oklahoma’s first lead of the game, and proved decisive as the Outlaws won by a final score of 20-16.

Oklahoma led in total yards (393 to 336) and first downs (19 to 18) while the Federals had the edge in time of possession (32:56 to 27:04) in the closely-fought contest. As usual, and especially since they were playing from behind for most of the game, the Outlaws gained far more yards through the air (333) than on the ground (60). Meanwhile, the Federals turned the ball over three times, to two by the Outlaws, and also hurt themselves with nine penalties, to six flags thrown on the visitors.

Doug Williams completed 24 of 45 passes for 333 yards and the two big fourth quarter touchdowns, as opposed to one interception. Ron Wheeler had 6 catches for 87 yards and the game-winning TD while Alphonso Williams gained 105 yards on his five receptions that also included a score. RB Sidney Thornton also caught 6 passes, for 54 yards, to go along with his 7 rushing attempts for 14 yards. RB Ted Sample led the Outlaws with 33 rushing yards on five carries.



For the Federals, Mike Hohensee was successful on 7 of 19 throws for 134 yards with no TDs and one interception before giving way to Reggie Collier, who completed 12 of 23 for 117 yards and also tossed an interception. WR Ricky Simmons pulled in 6 pass receptions for 68 yards and Mike Fisher gained 89 yards on his four catches. RB Billy Taylor led the club with 44 rushing yards on 16 carries and Curtis Bledsoe was right behind with 42 yards on 10 attempts. Jeff Brockhaus (pictured at left) was successful on all three of his field goal attempts, the first of the year for Washington.

The win for the Outlaws put them in a first-place tie with Michigan at 6-2, but it proved to be the high water mark of their season. The bottom fell out as they lost their remaining games, with the defense collapsing and Doug Williams eventually going out with an injury. They ended up with a 6-12 record and placed fourth in the Central Division. Washington eventually did break into the win column, but only three times as the Federals finished up tied with Pittsburgh in the basement of the Atlantic Division at 3-15.

April 13, 2014

Rookie of the Year: Louis Lipps, 1984

Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh Steelers



Age: 22
College: Southern Mississippi
Height: 5’10” Weight: 190

Prelude:
Lipps excelled as a pass receiver and punt returner in college, catching 91 passes for 1477 yards and averaging 10.6 yards on 78 punt returns. He was chosen by the Steelers in the first round (23rd overall) of the 1984 NFL draft. With his great speed and a solid work ethic, he proved to be a good fit on a young and overachieving team.

1984 Season Summary
Appeared in 14 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 45      
Most receptions, game – 7 (for 118 yds.) vs. San Diego 11/25
Yards – 860
Most yards, game – 183 (on 6 catches) vs. Kansas City 9/2
Average gain – 19.1 [5]
TDs – 9 [7, tied with Paul Coffman & Mike Quick]
100-yard receiving games – 2

Rushing
Attempts – 3
Yards – 71
Average gain – 23.7
TDs – 1

Punt Returns
Returns – 53 [3, tied with Greg Pruitt]
Yards – 656 [1]
Most yards, game – 128 (on 4 ret.) at New Orleans 11/19
Average per return – 12.4 [3]
TDs – 1
Longest return – 76 yards

All-Purpose yards – 1587 [10]

Scoring
TDs – 11 [10, tied with four others]
Points – 66

Postseason: 2 G
Pass receptions – 8
Most pass receptions, game - 5 at Denver, AFC Divisional playoff
Pass receiving yards – 131
Most pass receiving yards, game – 86 at Denver, AFC Divisional playoff
Average yards per reception – 16.4
Pass Receiving TDs – 1

Rushing attempts – 1
Rushing yards – 0
Rushing TDs – 0

Kickoff Returns – 3
Yards – 73
Average per return – 24.3
TDs – 0

Punt Returns – 4
Yards – 16
Average per return – 4.0
TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL Rookie of the Year: NEA, Sporting News
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: AP, PFWA
AFC Rookie of the Year: UPI
1st team All-NFL: PFWA, Pro Football Weekly
2nd team All-NFL: AP
1st team All-AFC: Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Steelers went 9-7 to finish first in the AFC Central while leading the NFL in punt return yards (696). Won AFC Divisional playoff over Denver Broncos (24-17). Lost AFC Championship to Miami Dolphins (45-28).

Aftermath:
Lipps followed up with another Pro Bowl year in 1985, catching 59 passes for 1134 yards (19.2 avg.) and 12 touchdowns while averaging 12.1 yards on 36 punt returns that included two more TDs. Injuries hindered his performance the next two years, and he had just 49 receptions for 754 yards in a total of 17 games over that span. Lipps came back to catch an even 50 passes in each of the next three seasons, from 1988 to ’90, although his high for yards (973) came in ’88. While his speed began to diminish, making him more of a possession receiver than the deep threat he had been originally, he was still reliable and a good runner after the catch, regularly drawing double coverage. In 1991 he had 55 catches, but for just 671 yards (12.2 avg.). He departed for the New Orleans Saints, but appeared in only two games due to injury in what was his last year. Overall, Lipps caught 359 passes for 6019 yards (all but one catch and one yard coming with Pittsburgh) and returned 112 punts for an 11.0 average, scoring a total of 46 touchdowns.

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Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year). 

April 11, 2014

MVP Profile: Archie Manning, 1978

Quarterback, New Orleans Saints


               
Age:  29
7th season in pro football & with Saints
College: Mississippi
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 200

Prelude:
Following an outstanding college career that culminated in his finishing second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1970, Manning was taken by the Saints in the first round (second overall) of the ’71 NFL draft. With a strong arm and excellent mobility, he was moved directly into the starting lineup and led the Saints to an upset win over the Rams in his first game, but the team was mediocre and he suffered through far more defeats than victories. He was sacked a league-leading 40 times and missed two games due to assorted injuries. Manning led the NFL in pass attempts (448) and completions (230) in 1972, but again in being sacked (43). Over the next few years, there were more low than high points and injuries were factors again in ensuing seasons. Manning missed all of 1976 due to a shoulder injury that required surgery and put his career in jeopardy. He came back in ’77 to tie for fourth in the NFC in passing, although an ankle injury again cut his season short.

1978 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 471 [3]
Most attempts, game – 53 at Green Bay 9/10
Completions – 291 [2]
Most completions, game – 33 at Green Bay 9/10
Yards – 3416 [2]
Most yards, game – 344 at Pittsburgh 11/5
Completion percentage – 61.8 [2]
Yards per attempt – 7.3 [8, tied with Ken Stabler & Brian Sipe]
TD passes – 17 [7]
Most TD passes, game – 3 vs. LA Rams 10/1
Interceptions – 16 [18, tied with four others]
Most interceptions, game – 3 vs. Philadelphia 9/17, at Dallas 11/19
Passer rating – 81.7 [5]
300-yard passing games – 2
200-yard passing games – 10

Rushing
Attempts – 38
Most attempts, game - 5 (for 48 yds.) vs. LA Rams 10/1
Yards – 202
Most yards, game – 48 yards (on 5 carries) vs. LA Rams 10/1
Yards per attempt – 5.3
TDs – 1

Awards & Honors:
NFC Player of the Year: UPI, Sporting News
1st team All-NFC: UPI, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Saints went 7-9 to finish third in the NFC West, the franchise’s best record at the time.

Aftermath:
Manning followed up with another Pro Bowl year in 1979, completing 60 percent of his passes for 3169 yards and 15 touchdowns, although also 20 interceptions, as the Saints reached .500 for the first time in franchise history at 8-8. However, greater expectations for 1980 were dashed as the club dropped to a dismal 1-15, although Manning achieved career highs with 3716 passing yards, 23 TDs, and an 81.8 passer rating. His performance dropped off significantly in an injury-filled ’81 season and, losing his starting job to Ken Stabler, he was dealt to the Houston Oilers early in the 1982 season. He was traded again during the following year, to Minnesota, where he finished his career as a backup in 1984. Overall, Manning threw for 23,911 yards (21,734 with the Saints) with 125 touchdowns (all but ten with New Orleans) and 173 interceptions. He also rushed for 2197 yards and 18 TDs, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. While Manning played for losing teams and never fully met expectations as a pro, his sons Peyton and Eli went on to become noteworthy pro quarterbacks.

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MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). Also includes Associated Press NFL Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year.

April 8, 2014

1984: Breakers Edge Maulers Despite Carano’s Big Passing Day




The Week 7 United States Football League contest on April 8, 1984 between the New Orleans Breakers and Pittsburgh Maulers appeared to be a classic mismatch on paper. The Breakers were 5-1, having lost for the first time in their previous game, and were in the thick of the Southern Division race. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh was struggling at 2-4, although they were coming off a win.

The Maulers were one of six expansion teams for the USFL’s second season and were coached by Joe Pendry, a former college assistant who had been offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Stars in ’83. They had made a high-profile signing by picking up the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, RB Mike Rozier, and they had a quarterback with NFL experience in former Dallas backup Glenn Carano. But the offense struggled, at least until picking up WR Jackie Flowers from the Chicago Blitz, and the defense had many holes.

The Breakers, coached by Dick Coury for the second year, had been in Boston in 1983 but were thriving in their new home. 36-year-old QB John Walton directed an offense that was productive both on the ground and through the air and the defense, anchored by LB Marcus Marek, was effective as well.

There was a crowd of 39,315 on hand at the Louisiana Superdome. The Breakers scored first on a five-yard carry around end by RB Marcus Dupree for a touchdown that finished off a 91-yard drive and Tim Mazzetti added the extra point. Dupree ran the ball five times for 31 yards during the series, but also aggravated a hamstring problem that hindered him the remainder of the game (he gained just ten more yards).

Just before the opening period ended, Glenn Carano connected with WR Greg Anderson for a nine-yard TD and Tony Lee added the point after to tie the score. The Maulers moved the ball well again on their next possession, going 77 yards, but they came up empty when a hurried throw by Carano was picked off by SS Eric Johnson.

Carano gave up another interception on the next Pittsburgh series, this time on a bomb intended for Anderson that was grabbed by CB Bruce Miller at the New Orleans 18. Pittsburgh got the ball back thanks to a fumble recovery when DT David Graham stripped RB Tony Good at the New Orleans 48. Once again the Maulers moved into scoring territory, but after reaching the 25 a penalty moved them back five yards and Lee ultimately was short on a 47-yard field goal attempt. Despite moving the ball well, Pittsburgh was unable to take advantage of scoring opportunities and the tally remained 7-7 at the half.

Early in the third quarter, Mazzetti booted a 33-yard field goal to put the Breakers back in front by 10-7. The Maulers responded with a field goal of their own, with Lee successful from 32 yards. New Orleans drove 79 yards on a series that ended with Walton throwing to WR Marion Brown, who dove to make the catch for a 15-yard touchdown, and Mazzetti’s PAT made it a seven-point contest with less than a minute remaining in the period.

In the fourth quarter, the Maulers came through with a big stop on defense when the Breakers attempted to convert a fourth-and-two play and RB Buford Jordan was tackled for a one-yard loss at the Pittsburgh 36. The Maulers responded with 63-yard drive in seven plays, all passes, six of which were completions. The last was to Anderson for a seven-yard TD and, with the successful extra point, the score was tied at 17-17.

The Maulers were backed up to their seven yard line when they next got the ball, but they went 93 yards to take the lead. Carano again had the hot hand, competing six of seven for 78 yards along the way, the biggest a toss to Anderson that picked up 27 yards down the left sideline. That got the ball to the New Orleans one, from where Carano got the touchdown on a quarterback sneak.

Down by seven points with 2:46 left in the contest, Walton led the Breakers 80 yards in five plays over the course of 57 seconds to tie the score. Three of the plays were pass completions to WR Charlie Smith that picked up a total of 48 yards, and each victimized safety Larry Friday, who was in the game as a nickel back. Friday hit Smith with an elbow after one reception to add another 15 yards and advance the ball to the Pittsburgh 24. Smith’s last catch was in the corner of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown. Mazzetti tied the score once more at 24-24 with the extra point.

The ensuing kickoff was returned just 10 yards by RB William Miller, who was brought down hard at his own 11 yard line. Carano had a short toss to Mike Rozier for three yards but then threw two incomplete passes before Larry Swider, kicking from his end zone, launched a 49-yard punt to the New Orleans 36.

Jordan ran 21 yards on a draw play to the Pittsburgh 43. On a third down play, Walton connected with Smith once again for a 14-yard gain to the 24 that set up a 41-yard Tim Mazzetti field goal with 12 seconds left on the clock. Having scored ten points inside the last two minutes, the Breakers came away with a 27-24 win.

Pittsburgh led in total yards (452 to 425) and also had the edge in first downs (29 to 28). However, the Maulers had three turnovers, to one suffered by the Breakers, and they were also penalized 9 times at a cost of 84 yards, to 8 flags thrown on New Orleans for 49 yards.

John Walton completed 18 of 33 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns with none intercepted. Buford Jordan ran for 111 yards on 12 carries and gained another 50 yards on his three pass receptions. The 10-year veteran Charlie Smith, who had been a teammate of Walton’s with the Eagles in the NFL, topped the receivers with 7 catches for 113 yards and a TD, most of which came in the clutch in the fourth quarter.

For the Maulers, Glenn Carano went to the air 48 times and had 35 completions for 388 yards and two TDs, although he also gave up three interceptions. Jackie Flowers and Greg Anderson each caught 10 passes, for 135 and 128 yards, respectively, and two of Anderson’s were good for scores. Mike Rozier led the ground game with 45 yards on 13 carries and also had 7 receptions for 23 yards.

“We’re fortunate to get out of here alive,” said a relieved Coach Dick Coury afterward.

“We let the offense down,” said Pittsburgh DE Sam Clancy. “We gave up ten points in the final two minutes. No team can win like that.”

The win improved New Orleans’ record to 6-1 but, after splitting their next two games, the Breakers collapsed and won only once more the rest of the way to finish at a disappointing 8-10 for third place in the Southern Division. Pittsburgh fell to 2-5 and continued to flounder, ending up at the bottom of the Atlantic Division along with the Washington Federals with a 3-15 record. Coach Pendry was gone after ten games and replaced by Ellis Rainsberger.

Glenn Carano, who had such a big day in a losing cause, went on to complete 53.7 percent of his passes for 2368 yards and 13 touchdowns against 19 interceptions in what was his last pro season. Greg Anderson led the team with 63 catches for 994 yards (15.8 avg.) and six TDs while Jackie Flowers contributed 51 receptions for 904 yards (17.7 avg.) and eight scores.

 
 

April 7, 2014

Rookie of the Year: Edgerrin James, 1999

Running Back, Indianapolis Colts



Age: 21
College: Miami (FL)
Height: 6’1”   Weight: 220

Prelude:
James rushed for over a thousand yards twice in college, including 1416 yards and 17 touchdowns as a junior in 1998. He declared for the NFL draft and was chosen in the first round (fourth overall) by the Colts, who were looking to replace the Marshall Faulk, who had been traded to the Rams, and felt that, with his receiving ability out of the backfield, he was a better fit for their offense than Heisman Trophy-winner Ricky Williams.

1999 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 369 [1]
Most attempts, game – 32 (for 118 yds.) at New England 9/19
Yards – 1553 [1]
Most yards, game – 152 yards (on 22 carries) at Philadelphia 11/21
Average gain – 4.2 [13]
TDs – 13 [2, tied with James Stewart]
100-yard rushing games – 10

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 62      
Most receptions, game – 7 (for 92 yds.) vs. Dallas 10/31, (for 90 yds.) vs. Kansas City 11/7, (for 53 yds.) vs. NY Jets 11/28
Yards – 586
Most yards, game – 92 (on 7 catches) vs. Dallas 10/31
Average gain – 9.5
TDs – 4

All-purpose yards – 2139 [2]

Scoring
TDs – 17 [1, tied with Stephen Davis]
Points – 102

Postseason: 1 G (AFC Divisional playoff vs. Tennessee)
Rushing attempts – 20
Rushing yards – 56
Average gain rushing – 2.8
Rushing TDs – 0

Pass receptions – 1
Pass receiving yards - 8
Average yards per reception – 8.0
Pass Receiving TDs - 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL Rookie of the Year: Sporting News
NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: AP, PFWA
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, Sporting News
1st team All-AFC: Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Colts went 13-3 (following two straight 3-13 records) to finish first in the AFC East while leading the conference in total yards (5726), passing yards (4066), and scoring (423 points). Lost AFC Divisional playoff to Tennessee Titans (19-16).

Aftermath:
“The Edge” had another Pro Bowl season in 2000 as he again led the NFL in rushing (1709 yards) and also in yards from scrimmage (2303), scoring a total of 18 touchdowns. However, a knee injury finished him for the year six games into the 2001 season and, while he came back in ’02, was hindered by ankle and rib problems. While having lost some of his earlier explosiveness, he came back to rush for 1259 yards in 2003 and returned to the Pro Bowl in ’04 after running for 1548 yards and going over two thousand yards from scrimmage for the third time with 2031. After rushing for 1506 yards and 13 TDs in 2005, achieving one last Pro Bowl selection, he moved on to the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent. James was over a thousand yards in each of his first two years with the Cards, although with a declining average gain per carry and less production as a receiver out of the backfield. In clear decline by 2008, although he performed well in Arizona’s postseason run, he was let go afterward and finished his career with Seattle in 2009. Overall, James was chosen to the Pro Bowl four times as he rushed for 12,246 yards (9226 with the Colts) and gained a total of 15,610 yards from scrimmage as he added 3364 yards on 433 pass receptions. He scored a total of 91 TDs.

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Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year).