Battle Breaks Out In Indianapolis

Posted Oct 9, 2011

Jackie Battle turns in career rushing day in Chiefs 28-24 victory over Colts

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Odds aren’t high many Colts fans had ever heard of Jackie Battle before Sunday’s game. That’s not a knock on Indianapolis’ football IQ, but the reality of Kansas City’s come from behind victory in front of 65,088 fans at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Battle may be the most anonymous skill player on the Chiefs roster, spending five seasons primarily as a special teams performer.

He entered Sunday’s game with just 155 career rushing yards. Only once had he carried the football more than five times in a single game and that occurred over three seasons ago against the N.Y. Jets in a meaningless season finale.

More often than not, Battle has completed the majority of his 38 career games without touching the football. That certainly wasn’t the case Sunday in Indianapolis.

“Well, (fans) are going to know him after today,” teammate Dwayne Bowe said.

Kansas City’s short-yardage back turned in a career performance, averaging 6.3 yards per carry on 19 attempts. Battle’s 119 rushing yards nearly increased his career total by 100%.

He was as big a reason as any that the Chiefs were able to battle back from two separate 17-point deficits and score 21 unanswered points to beat Indianapolis 28-24.

“I’m so happy for Jackie,” QB Matt Cassel said. “He’s a guy that never complains and just goes out and works hard. He’ll do whatever you ask him to do. He does special teams and he’s a guy that just grinds and grinds and grinds.

“He’s been through a lot since he’s been here,” head coach Todd Haley added. “He’s one of those guys that is just able to hang on because he’s a special teams player, but you could tell that he always believed he was really a runner and he didn’t like it too much when we relegated him, in our minds, to just a special teams player.”

Battle still played special teams on Sunday. The game plan didn’t necessarily call for Battle to be the Chiefs primary ball carrier. It just happened to turn out that way.

Once he got going, Battle’s production demanded more and more carries as the game went on.

“He’s a great running back, a tough runner and he’s a great part of this team,” Bowe said. “We need him.”

But it wasn’t only the final numbers that made Battle’s day impressive. It was the path he took to stay in the league this long, paired with the way he churned out yardage Sunday afternoon.

One of the reasons for Battle’s increased workload came because of an injury to FB Le’Ron McClain. He received an opportunity and made the most of it.

Slamming into defenders like a battering ram, Battle gained his yards the hard way. He doesn’t have exceptional breakaway speed, nor does he possess a variety of moves in the open field. But when Battle runs the football, defenders feel his presence.

Battle gashed the Colts defense with chunk yardage throughout the game, lowering his shoulder and falling forward for extra yards to close nearly every carry.

“He’s a hard-nosed runner,” said G Ryan Lilja. “He’s a physical guy and he gets yards after contact. Its good blocking for him because he is going to break tackles and he is going to get first downs. He just plays really hard.”

Three weeks ago, offensive coordinator Bill Muir warned everyone not to label Battle “Mr. Preseason,” understanding that many only know of the running back from his yearly stint as Kansas City’s exhibition workhorse.

Muir hinted that Battle would become more involved in Kansas City’s game plan following the loss of Jamaal Charles.

Last week, Battle closed out the Vikings with a series of late-game carries that powered the Chiefs to a game-clinching first down late in the fourth quarter. He performed a similar role last season as well, most notably in the Chiefs December road win at St. Louis.

But Battle hadn’t served as the primary ball carrier since college. Even then, he was part of a pass-heavy offense at the University of Houston.

“He continues to show up week in and week out and there’s never a time when I’ve seen him get hit where he doesn’t somehow fall forward,” Cassel said. “He’s done a great job for us and hopefully he’ll continue grow in this offense.”

Battle ran hard right up to his final carry, when a helmet-to-helmet hit knocked him out of the game inches shy of a game-clinching first down. Cassel would ice victory one snap later.

“He’s another player on our team that has continued to develop here through the last couple years and that’s just so critical to being a successful team is just developing the players on your team and he’s one of those guys,” Haley said. “There’s a bunch of them but boy, I was happy for Jackie today.”

Fan’s Anonymous Letter Reaches Battle

At least one fan was leading a charge to get Battle more carries prior to Sunday’s breakout performance. During his post-game press conference, Haley revealed he had received an anonymous letter from a fan calling for Battle to receive more carries.

Haley then read the letter to Battle before Sunday’s game.

“I actually got a note from a fan that didn’t even leave a return address,” Haley explained. “Number one, he liked my hat which I appreciated. He was a marine and he liked that I yell a lot. He said yelling is what got his life in shape. Then he spoke about Jackie.

“I read Jackie the letter before the game and this guy for whatever reason believes in Jackie Battle. He said, ‘you need to give Jackie Battle the ball. I think he’s another Arian Foster.’ I don’t know all the words exactly but I’ve been really impressed with Jackie.”

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