Keenan Allen took to the national stage on Thursday Night Football and gave voters something to think about when it comes to this year's Offensive Rookie of the Year.
In San Diego's upset of the Denver Broncos, Allen was responsible for two of the touchdowns that helped lead the Chargers to a much-needed win. Like he's done so often this season, Allen showed up for the Chargers and made the plays his team expects from a No. 1 receiver.
Selected 76th overall, Allen was the eighth receiver taken in the 2013 draft class despite first-round talent, and he overcame a serious knee injury that would normally make NFL scouts and general managers cringe. After the type of season Allen has had thus far in his rookie year, those same scouts are still cringing at the fact that they passed on him.
Following his night in Denver, Allen leads all rookie receivers in yards (929), receptions (63) and receiving touchdowns (seven). Compared to what this year's crop of first-round receivers has accomplished, Allen has more than proved himself as a first-round talent and one of this year's draft steals.
|Tavon Austin (Selected eighth Overall)||40 REC||418 YDS||4 TD|
|DeAndre Hopkins (Selected 27th Overall)||44 REC||707 YDS||2 TD|
|Cordarrelle Patterson (Selected 29th Overall)||35 REC||395 YDS||2 TD|
In back-to-back games, Allen has caught two touchdowns and gone over 100 yards receiving five times. Considering the Chargers didn't have plans to play Allen extensively, let alone start so early in the year, the production from the rookie has more than likely surpassed expectations.
Midway through the season, plenty of input was given as to who might run away with Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, but Allen's play down the stretch has given voters a reason to include him in the conversation. NFL.com's bevy of experts had almost unanimously agreed Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy was the clear favorite for the award, but that might change by season's end.
While Lacy's numbers have been staggering, it hasn't been enough to propel his team to wins. The difference with Allen is his ability to leave his mark on a game and help his team come out with a win.
Is Allen the favorite to win OROY following Thursday night?
Playing with one of the league's best quarterbacks has obviously contributed to Allen's early success, but you can't deny his individual effort to set his team up for victories. Allen has come up in clutch situations for the Chargers on more than one occasion this season, filling the shoes of a veteran receiver that San Diego has lacked.
With the pressure of prime time looming on Thursday night, Allen shook off the nerves and helped the national audience remember lucky No. 13. If Allen's season as a whole hasn't drawn interest, then at least he'll be remembered for one of the top plays of Week 15 in the NFL.