At first glance, it appears that Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson will have an easy time waltzing into the record books this Sunday at Qwest Field.
His team, eliminated from playoff contention on Christmas by the San Diego Chargers, has only his rushing and yardage records to play for. Considering that the only thing in their way is the hapless Seattle Seahawks, well...it could get ugly, quick.
But, not so fast.
The Seahawks, led by the fiery Jim Mora Jr., have something to play for as well: pride. In a season marred by gross underachievement, they will look to go out swinging.
Of course, it all depends on who has or hasn't given up on the season. But rest assured that the Seattle players and coaches are reading all of the headlines and hearing all of the talk about how Johnson might as well be running against cardboard cutouts.
It's the classic bulletin board material that teams—even those with nothing left to play for—seem to rally around.
Another factor going against Johnson is Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher's flirtation with indifference.
Yes, it's been a stated team goal to get Johnson his yards. But, earlier this week, Fisher said that he wasn't going to be counting his carries or yards in the game. Of course, that could just be coyness on his part.
As a rule, it's not cool in this league for coaches to focus on numbers and stats. They're paid to worry about winning, and winning only.
However, intangibles aside, there's also the issue of numbers. There are three records and milestones that Johnson is chasing in this game.
The first, and the most reachable one, is Marshall Faulk's total yards from scrimmage record of 2,429, set in 1999. Johnson only needs 74 yards to break it.
The second one is the 2,000-yard plateau. If he succeeds, Johnson will become only the sixth player to accomplish that feat. Considering that he only needs 128 yards, this mark is within striking distance. Currently, he averages 124 yards per game.
The third, most coveted record is the single season rushing mark of 2,105 yards that Eric Dickerson set in 1984. Johnson would need to play one of his best games to get there.
It wouldn't necessarily be a "career game" because he's come close this season, rushing for 228 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
However, as mentioned, the Seahawks are a proud franchise that is better against the run than they are the pass. Given Vince Young's sub-par play as of late, they will also be keying on Johnson with eight-man fronts.
So, after Sunday, will Johnson be able to open the record books and etch his name in triplicate?
He has a good chance, all things considered. No one's contesting that.
But he's going to have to earn it.
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