NFL Week 8: The Big Guy’s Week to Shine

Football is a great game. It entertains us every Sunday, whether our team wins or loses (for the most part.)

There are some things during a game that just make you smile. A kickoff return for a TD, a big catch or a big hit – the electrifying & the mesmerizing. But sometimes it’s the small things that are just as great. One of those is the fat guy touchdown; or any football play that involves a big ugly rumbling down the field, following blocks and shedding tackles like Barry Sanders.

(See here for more of the great fat guy TDs in years past.)

Football, we thank you. We thank you for giving us this one, fantastic delight.

This 2011-12 NFL season has been good to those of us that love to see the big guys in action. They rarely get a chance to shine outside of their role as the warriors of the trenches. Most of the time if they end up anywhere past the 2nd level, we ask, “What are they doing there?!” But when they get a chance to dive on a loose ball or to show off their high school running back skills, it makes everyone in the stadium stand up and applaud the effort that these 300 pound monsters give. And you know they savor the moment of appreciation.

At the start of the year, New England’s Vince Wilfork gave us some 2 fantastic highlights full of big, round glory when he turned into a shutdown corner, picking off a Philip Rivers pass in week 2 before picking off another pass vs. the Raiders in week 4. Both times he returned it for a big gain. Head down, protecting the ball, trying to truck whoever got in the big man’s way. No TDs, but it was a beautiful sight; a big, beautiful sight that made the earth tremor.

Pick #1:

Pick # 2:

Then there was Wade Smith scoring the first touchdown by an offensive lineman in Texans history, which created a buzz on social networking sites like Twitter. Facing the Ravens D on the 6 yard line, Texans RB Ben Tate rushed to the 1 before Ravens DB Lardarius Webb knocked the ball from Tate. Tate tried to get to the ball, which had rolled into the endzone, but he was out of reach. An alert Smith, dived on the ball and recovered the fumble, allowing the Texans to score and for the fat guy touchdown spike to happen..

Then week 8 happened. Enter Joe Staley and Clint Session/the Jaguar’s defense.

Everyone loves a nose tackle in at the goal line as a FB, blocking or taking the handoff for a FB run. But nothing quite compares to San Francisco offensive tackle Joe Staley, hauling in a pass from QB Alex Smith and taking it upfield.

First off, outside of Kyle Turley, how often do you see a big guy/offensive tackle catch a football? (Or have a designated play for the eligible tackle?)

Everything about this play is epic. From the balls to call such a play, to the execution, the perfect route running from Staley, to the reception of the pass, to the turning and rumbling up field, to trying to stick the head down, take on contact and truck a few defenders for a couple of extra yards.

And then there’s the first down celebration! Have you ever seen a guy happier to make a play? Probably not. Staley is like a kid at Christmas time.

No doubt, look for coach Jim Harbaugh to look Staley’s way more often for a big play. 4th down, down by 3, ball on the 40 yard line, 30 seconds left.. Smith drops back, Staley wide open.. boom, plucks the ball out of the air; sprints it in for 6. (And by sprint, I mean drags all 11 defenders into the endzone while the clock hits 0:00.)

If that wasn’t enough excitement for the week, there was the Jags defense stepping up against the Texans.

Late in the 2nd quarter, with the Texans up by 7 and with the ball on their own 45 yard, Texans QB Matt Schaub dropped back to pass. Jaguar’s defender Clint Session sacked Schaub, popping the ball loose and in rumbled DE Matt Roth. Roth then proceeded to do what everyone in the stadium didn’t expect. Like a kid in a schoolyard just playing ball, he played hot potato with his team mates, lateralling the ball to defensive tackle Terrance Knighton who flipped it back to Session who gained another 10 yards before Texans RB Arian Foster got him down at the 10. No TD, but the glorious running of the mound was more than enough to satisfy even the Texans fans.

That one play brought back everything that is great about this game. Just a group of big kids, getting paid to play a game that only most of us would ever dream about. And they’re having fun doing it.

Bonus points to Roth for not having eyes only for the endzone and sharing the turnover with his team mates. Sure, Roth could’ve tried to hog the glory and churned those chubby legs for maybe at best, an extra few more yards but unselfishly, he flipped it back to his other fat friends to see if they could pick up a few extra yards, maybe even 6 on the play. Not quite a TD, which may have resulted in a group of big guys with an even more memorable TD dance, but hey.. it’s week 9 and the season is still young. And if that happens, I’ll add it to the collection and make it worthy of a blog post.

Rumble on you big, beautiful sons of bitches. America and the world salutes you.