By Nick Shook
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Could it — could it be true?
Nope. After the tease of first glance, it’s business as usual.
Road teams went 6-9 in the first 15 games of Week 14, with Monday night’s tilt between the Patriots and Dolphins still to be played. New England can’t bring the visitors’ delegation to .500 this week, but it can bring it to the optimistic 7-9. I mean, the 2001 Browns finished 7-9 and the next year, they made the playoffs.
They haven’t been back since. Let’s hope for better futures for road squads than that.
Greatest on the Road
Rod Smith, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys were a run-first team in 2016, and they did it very well. But without their star running back, it hasn’t been the same. Then came Rod Smith, a running back in college who has been used primarily as a fullback in the NFL. Google his 40 time — you’ll have a hard time finding it, or really anything of note from his time at Ohio State (except for this touchdown run against Nebraska).
Smith’s career-high for rushing yards in a single game in 61, which he achieved earlier this season in a blowout win over San Francisco. That remains his highwater mark after he rushed six times for 47 yards and a touchdown Sunday, but his contributions in the passing game are what landed him in this space.
The big back racked up 113 yards on five receptions, with the majority of those yards coming on an 81-yard catch over the middle that he deposited in the end zone to take what was a close game and blow it wide open. You can find the score above in Smith’s highlights, but you can also view it by clicking here, because I’m a believer in spreading football-borne joy to the masses.
If you’ve ever seen the Fast and Furious movies (my personal favorite is the eternally corny 2 Fast, 2 Furious, which aged poorly but produced a great Ludacris song), you know what it’s like for a driver to hit the nitrous oxide boost. Smith did the football equivalent on that play, which helped the Cowboys avoid a brush with embarrassment and keep them in the postseason hunt.
Also considered …
Jordan Howard, Chicago Bears
This one’s pretty simple: Chicago dominated Cincinnati on Sunday, especially in the final three quarters, a stretch in which the Bears outscored the Bengals 27-0. Much of that was due to the play of Jordan Howard.
Howard powered a Bears rushing game that churned up 232 yards on the ground and accounted for three scores as Chicago ground Cincinnati’s defense to a powder before it was all said and done. Howard opened the scoring with a 21-yard sprint through a gaping hole to the front corner of the end zone, and closed the scoring with an 8-yard run up the middle to ice the game for the Bears. Not a bad day.
Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers
The receiver caught 10 passes on the day for 84 yards and two touchdowns, but his greatest contribution within those numbers came in the final two periods. Adams caught a 1-yard touchdown pass to tie the game up at 21-21 in the final seconds, and one-upped himself in overtime on his short catch and 25-yard run to paydirt and a walk-off win for the Packers. In the final two periods, Adams hauled in six of his 10 receptions. The last was the most important to a Packers team that is, somehow, still alive in the playoff race.