Opposing defenses beware: Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans is a running back to be taken very seriously.
Johnson's 25-carry, 135-yard effort on Sunday was peppered with highlight reel moments as he cut, weaved, and utterly outran the Niners defenders, including an overturned 81-yard romp that, had the coaches been on the ball and gotten the kicking team on the field before San Fransisco could challenge the play, would have resulted in a three-touchdown effort instead of just two.
He contributed in the passing game as well, hauling in three passes for 25 yards, even attempting a pass in the first half that would have resulted in a touchdown had he completed it.
NFL defenses, meet the most recent iteration of "Slash."
Except this time, it means he will slash your defense to bits if you let him get up a head of steam.
Which takes about one-half of a step.
The Titans' defense made another respectable showing, holding Frank Gore to under 100 yards and picking San Fransisco quarterback Alex Smith three times, once in the first quarter and twice in the fourth, with the last pick by Cortland Finnegan coming off of a "lucky" bounce that resulted in a return for a touchdown.
They still gave up almost 300 yards through the air, which has got to change if they expect to maintain this momentum. But with Finnegan back from injury, and both Chris Hope and Michael Griffin playing smart at the safety positions, they are showing signs of turning the corner very soon.
LenDale White, for all his bluster, was a mere afterthought in the running game, handling the ball a paltry four times for three yards, including getting stuffed at the goal line on third-and-barely before relinquishing the ball to Johnson on the next play, who promptly ran around the left side for his second touchdown of the game.
Speaking of afterthoughts, how about that Vince Young?
While 12-of-19 for 172 yards doesn't completely stink up the stat sheet, it doesn't exactly impress. Of course, anyone listening to the TV broadcast would think differently; the broadcasters went out of their way to heap their praises on him, waxing on about how much he has improved and matured, and how he seems to be getting the hang of the game.
I certainly would hope so, considering what he is being paid to do just that.
Sure, he ran for a touchdown on a designed quarterback scramble. Which, for those who may be a little fuzzy on the concept, is a play that just about EVERY quarterback in the league has run at one time, or another.
Even the big, slow, lumbering ones.
Sure, he didn't throw any interceptions, which appeared to impress the broadcast crew to considerable extent, but he also threw ZERO touchdowns.
And his effort on third down, while not completely inept, wasn't exactly spectacular. Four-of-12 on third down is NOT what I would call an awe-inspiring ability to "keep drives alive".
That is what the kool-aid argument is, isn't it? That he has the ability, with his athleticism, and rushing ability, to "keep drives alive?"
Thought so. Nice run on third-and-five to pick up two yards in the fourth quarter, by the way.
To summarize, Chris Johnson put on another game-winning performance in his already league-leading rushing season, the defense showed that they appear to understand the concept of not letting the other team score more than their own team, and Vince Young didn't completely stink, nor did he do anything to cause the Titans to lose.
I suppose, by some estimations, this counts as a successful outing for the Wunderkind.
After all, if his supporters are happy with him simply not losing, then who am I to judge?