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tk13
12-20-2004, 01:06 AM
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/sports/football/nfl/kansas_city_chiefs/10456308.htm

larry christmas

By IVAN CARTER The Kansas City Star


Almost from the moment the Chiefs made the controversial decision to draft him, Larry Johnson told anyone who would listen that he had the talent, the pedigree and the drive to be a top-notch NFL running back. All he needed was the football.

After rolling to his third straight 100-yard rushing game in the Chiefs' 45-17 spanking of the Broncos on Sunday, putting a serious hurt on Denver's playoff plans, Johnson could have stood up and told anyone who would listen: “I told you so.”

But Johnson, who pounded out a career-high 151 yards and two touchdowns in a career-high 30 carries against a Denver defense rated fifth against the run, declined to say much of anything. And when Johnson did speak, he wisely offered praise to his teammates — especially the big boys up front who continue to make facing the Chiefs a defensive nightmare.

“I wouldn't be able to show my might if I didn't have the guys on the offensive line and (fullback) Tony Richardson, who's been doing an awesome job not only as a football player, but as a real mentor,” Johnson said. “I feel great that I've been given the opportunity to show what I can do and make the guys who block for me proud.”

Johnson joined Priest Holmes, Joe Delaney and Christian Okoye as the only backs in franchise history with at least three consecutive 100-yard rushing games. If Johnson continues to produce as he has in recent weeks, he'll make a whole bunch of people associated with the Chiefs proud. It's interesting that his emergence has coincided with the Chiefs' seasonlong, three-game winning streak.

In victories over Oakland, Tennessee and Denver, Johnson had 57 carries for 373 yards and scored five touchdowns. He averaged a gaudy 6.5 yards per carry during that span and broke off runs of 34, 46, 41 and 32 yards.

Johnson owns three of the Chiefs' four longest runs this season. And to think that he was making his first career start Sunday.

“It seems like he's getting better and better and gaining confidence every time he's out there,” Chiefs quarterback Trent Green said. “Larry had to do some tough running today because they have an excellent defense.”

Johnson took the best — and the dirtiest — the Broncos had to give him and kept on rolling.

Denver safety John Lynch capped one 5-yard second-quarter Johnson run by slamming his forearm underneath Johnson's chin, drawing a 15-yard unnecessary-roughness penalty. Johnson not only showed composure by not reacting to Lynch, but he got up off the ground with a smile on his face, as if he enjoyed the physical contact.

In the end, Johnson got his revenge the way all good backs do — by making Lynch look silly on his way to the end zone. The Chiefs were leading 21-7 and had a first and 10 at the Denver 32 with 4 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the first half when Johnson slashed through a hole created by center Casey Wiegmann, left guard Brian Waters and right guard Will Shields. Johnson soon encountered Lynch, who has long been one of the NFL's best tacklers.

However, Lynch appeared to misjudge Johnson's speed, took a bad angle and never even touched Johnson as he cruised on by. Chalk that up as yet another example of Johnson surprising the Chiefs by doing something he's always done.

“I said to him right before that series: ‘Larry, those two safeties are very fine tacklers,' ” Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil said. “ ‘They're hard to make miss.' The last couple of weeks, he's had some good runs and some safeties have missed tackles. So he goes in there the next series, and the safety misses a tackle and he scores. He went back out there thinking: ‘I'm going to make a safety miss.' ”

There was a time when some said that the Chiefs missed by drafting Johnson in the first place. Lately, those people are becoming harder and harder to find.

“No one has ever doubted he can play,” Vermeil said. “He needed a better opportunity, he needed to grow up and he's done both. He's getting a better opportunity, which has speeded up his maturing process. He's a kid who loves to play the game. It hurts not to play, and it affects him many different ways.

“I feel proud of him right now, and I think he feels good about himself, and his teammates feel good about him as well.”

Logical
12-20-2004, 01:32 AM
Lots of love for Leon from Dv in that article.

2bikemike
12-20-2004, 01:39 AM
Lots of love for Leon from Dv in that article.

Oh he's getting the love all around now. I even heard you give him a little. :)

Logical
12-20-2004, 01:53 AM
Oh he's getting the love all around now. I even heard you give him a little. :)

He deserves the praise due to his on the field actions. He needs to talk as little as possible for a while and he could become a non Terrel Owens type star. He may be the kind that wants to be TO like, if he produces on the field to back it up I have nothing against that either.

MichaelH
12-20-2004, 05:52 AM
He deserves the praise due to his on the field actions. He needs to talk as little as possible for a while and he could become a non Terrel Owens type star. He may be the kind that wants to be TO like, if he produces on the field to back it up I have nothing against that either.


I doubt he'll become a loudmouth like TO even if he can back it up on the field.