Time and Injury Don’t Stop Charles from Helping Chiefs, Breaking Records

Posted Nov 23, 2012

Momentum shifts. Big-play potential. Game-changing performances, breath taking moves and a “catch me if you can” mentality, welcome to the world of Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles.

Just five days removed from the 118-yard performance against the Bengals, giving him a total of 5,083 career-scrimmage yards (15th place all-time in Chiefs history), Charles needs eight more yards to pass FB Kimble Anders for the 14th spot and his current scrimmage yards per game average (101 yards) ranks eighth in the NFL.

However, you can’t fully appreciate the real estate Jamaal Charles has covered since the Chiefs selected him in the third round (73rd overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft, without knowing what the 5’11, 199-pound RB has endured.

September 18, 2011 was supposed to be a Week 2-regular season matchup against the Detroit Lions in the Motor City; instead it was a nightmare come true for Charles, the Chiefs and the entire Kingdom.

Three plays into the game, what seemed to be an innocuous Charles run to the right side, turned out to be a gut-wrenching, painful ACL tear of his left knee, ending his 2011 campaign.

Immediately after the injury, Charles seethed in pain while instantly thinking about his football future. “There was a lot going through my mind. I was thinking about when I’d (be) going to take another snap, playing football,” Charles recalled.

He was placed on injured reserve three days later. Now facing the 25-year old from Port Arthur, Texas were fears, uncertainties and months and months of rehab, which he embraced with a reckless abandon.

The blood, sweat and tears of rehab continue to pay off for Charles, who returned to the team this season. And being in the thanksgiving spirit, Charles was quick to honor those who aided his grueling-recovery process.

“I thank God for letting me be strong and I thank my doctor that fixed me up pretty good, my family and my two daughters,” he said proudly.

Of the 5,083 scrimmage yards, 821 of them have come on the ground this season, ninth best in the NFL. Charles is averaging 82.1 rushing yards per game (also ninth in the league). His 21 carries of 10 yards this year (including 46, 91 and 37-yard runs) ranks ninth best in the league and he is tied for fourth with three 10 yard rushing touchdowns.

Charles clearly has “big-play potential” pumping through his veins. He has it, more than the average human, super-sized. His 106-career rushes of 10 yards is third best in team history, 32 yards short of outshining RB Larry Johnson (137) for second.

But let’s not kid ourselves, while 10-yard runs are productive, that’s roughly about the time Jamaal’s fast-twitch fibers begin to fire at full capacity. Such was the case during the Chiefs third game this season. And while I know TNT claims to ‘know drama’, the Chiefs effort, spurred by their silent assassin RB, was beyond epic television.

Winless on the season and trailing the home team New Orleans Saints by 18 points late in the third quarter, Kansas City’s historic comeback began on its own nine yard line.

Charles took the handoff, broke contain to the left and outran everybody, covering 91 yards of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome turf for the score.

Four-Ryan Succop FGs and one Drew Brees safety by Justin Houston later and the Chiefs flew home victorious. The run was the longest of Charles' career and the longest rush from scrimmage in team history.

As for the 91-yard speed burst to pay dirt and the countless other TD runs, Charles’ focus remains the same.

“Just trying to make a play for my team and when I get a seam, or open, I try to goes as fast as I can to get to the end zone,” he added. Charles has scored 24-career TDs (rushing, receiving and special teams).

On that memorable day, Charles finished with 233 rushing yards and 55 receiving yards to join Pro Football Hall of Fame RB Jim Brown as the only players in NFL history to record at least 225 rushing yards and 50 receiving yards in the same game.

With the 233-yard performance at New Orleans (9/23) under his belt, Charles now owns the top two single-game rushing marks in franchise history. Jamaal defied the high elevation in Denver, to the tune of 259 yards (1/3/10). He joined RBs Corey Dillon and O.J. Simpson with two games of more than 230 rushing yards in their careers. The only person who has more is Hall of Fame RB Jim Brown (3).

One week after the 91-yard TD burst near Bourbon Street, the soft-spoken back was at it again, showcasing more momentum-swinging moves. Trailing the San Diego Chargers 20-0 in the second quarter, Charles took a 1st-and-10 pitch and headed right, only to be met by five Chargers defenders, where he busted into video game mode, hopping backwards and reversing direction. Not yet in the clear, Chiefs QB Matt Cassel blocked Chargers LB Jarret Johnson enough to spring the former high school track champion (100m and 300m hurdles) into the open secondary and once that happens, “forget about it,” a 37-yard TD run.

“That big-play ability is always helpful to a team and having him out there is a plus for us, and he breaks some runs and he can gain 20 (yards) and sometimes he can run for a touchdown. So that’s a plus, being able to have him there and him being able to do that,” Chiefs head coach Romeo Crennel later said of Charles.

Since 2009, Charles (3) trails only Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson (5) for the most 50 yard runs in the NFL. However, the career-scrimmage yards for Charles aren’t solely those from the run game.

Dateline: November 22, 2009, the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers open the game with a kickoff to Charles, who played zigzag with the Black and Gold until later separating himself for a 97-yard TD. Momentum advantage: Kansas City (cue voice of Mitch Holthus).

The run game and special teams are just two phases of the Jamaal Charles arsenal, according to Chiefs QB Brady Quinn. “I think whether it’s handing the ball off or even the passing game, you know that when you’re putting the ball in his hands, good things can happen, so he’s a formidable option. Fans sometimes love when you throw it deep or throw it over the top but sometimes throwing it underneath and let him make a guy miss and then run for 60 yards isn’t a bad option either.”

It’s one thing to hand the ball off to Charles or throw him the ball, but what about the guys up front who work to open a hole for him, so he can cover record breaking yardage?

“It’s fun to block for Jamaal. Sometimes it’s fun to not even block for him though, because he’ll make guys miss. He’s obviously a special player. He’s fun to play with. There are some blocks (that) he had against Cincinnati in pass protection where (they) were not even his assignments, but he adjusts and it takes a hit off the quarterback, so he’s a complete player,” Chiefs C Ryan Lilja complimented.

And while his Chiefs teammates continue to praise him, Charles is quick to thank those who have helped him along the way.

“The people in my past, my coaches in high school, all the way from Pop Warner, that taught me all the way from college, all the way that got me where I’m at right now, to keep me strong and to never give up.”

That very spirit and ‘never-say-die’ attitude of Charles and his teammates will continue Sunday, when the Chiefs try to give the Kingdom its first home win of the season, facing the Denver Broncos.

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