The fact that Le’Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers ran for 204 yards on 33 carries against the Tennessee Titans was not much of a surprise, given that he had run for 147 yards against Carolina, with an 81 yard romp on one play in the second game of the season. He also ran for 191 yards on 39 carries the third week of the season against the Cleveland Browns. So, 204 yards was not out of the realm of possibilities. Even though this was his first eclipse of 200 yards, he had surpassed 150 yards four times previously.
Indeed the big surprise was that Jonas Gray of the New England Patriots, filling in for the injured Stevan Ridley, ran for 201 yards on 37 carries and four touchdowns against the Indianapolis Colts, whose team defense against the rush was a paltry 98 yards per game; that’s per team! Jonas Gray was not even on the team’s opening day roster, and had never scored a touchdown in the NFL prior to this game. Gray became only the third player in Patriots history to rush for over 200 yards in a game and tied LeGarrette Blount for most touchdowns in a game by a Patriot. It must have seemed like déjà vu to the Colts, as Blount scored those four TDs against them in the 2013 playoffs, when he was a Patriot. Gray was voted the AFC Offensive Player of the Week, after teammate Julian Edelman won it the week before their bye.
Speaking of LeGarrette Blount, he walked off the field prior to the end of the game in which Bell ran for 204 yards. Blount, who signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers for $3.85 million in the offseason, was apparently upset with not getting a carry during the game. The Steelers waived him, he cleared waivers, and signed a two-year contract with…who else? That’s right, the New England Patriots. Blount reportedly signed for the league minimum, and the Patriots will cut a defensive lineman to make room for Blount on the roster.
In other wacky running back news, Ben Tate, who was supposed to be the Cleveland Browns future at running back, when he signed a two-year, $7 million contract during the offseason, had two carries for -9 yards on Sunday. Ben Tate had complained about his playing time and number of carries in a backfield crowded with Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell. That was a bad sign according to Marc Sparks. After the game, the Browns cut the disgruntled running back, who was immediately signed by the Minnesota Vikings, who also have a crowded backfield with Matt Asiata and Jerick McKinnon. Although neither has been very consistent, McKinnon has not scored a touchdown, but has a 4.9 yards per carry average, and Asiata has scored 3 touchdowns in a game twice this year, but has a 3.3 yards per carry average.
In my fifty years of watching football, I don’t remember this much wackiness in one weekend.