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September 25, 2005
Gameday Blog vs. Pittsburgh: Inactives and Inaccuracies
PITTSBURGH - The inactives today are Dan Klecko, Brandon Gorin and Wes Mallard joining the four players who didn't make the trip -- James Sanders, Randall Gay, Tyrone Poole and Andre Davis. Matt Cassel is the third quarterback today.
Sitting for the Steelers are corners Bryant McFadden and Willie Williams, running back Jerome Bettis, linebacker Rian Wallace, guard Chris Kemoeatu, tackle Trai Essex and receiver Sean Morey.
A Boston Globe writer said in his column last Monday after the Patriots loss at Carolina that it was far too early to speculate that Corey Dillon's age was the reason the Patriots running game lagged over the first two weeks.
Six days passed. And today, he devoted an article that was supposed to illustrate the flagging production of running backs once they turn 30 (Dillon will be 31 in October).
Accompanying the story was a graphic noting that only 30 times since 1934 has a 30-plus back gone over 1,000 yards.
Left unmentioned in the graphic or the story were a couple of key points that -- if mentioned -- would have harpooned the thesis that over-30 backs are doomed.
First, Dillon was one of the over-30 backs to run for 1,000 plus and his 1,635 yards (in 15 games, mind you) was the third-highest total ever and he needed 345 yards to do it. The highest was Curtis Martin's 1,697 in 16 games last year when he carried 371 times.
Walter Payton (1,684 yards in 1981 on 381 carries when he was 30) is the player in between Dillon and Martin.
So Corey Dillon's fall-off -- if it is to be -- will be unbelievably precipitous.
Also, of the 30 times a 30-plus back has topped 1,000 yards, 9 have occurred since 2000. And 25 have come since 1982.
So not only are "aged" backs gaining more yards after 30 than at any time in NFL history, the player who's supposedly breaking down -- Dillon -- had the highest per-carry average of any back that topped 1,600 yards by a large margin.
In the same Globe column, a defensive assistant who coached against the Pats this year but requested anonymity (so he's either from Carolina or Oakland) says that Tom Brady is running the Patriots offense at the line of scrimmage.
"They give him a bag full of plays and then they let him handle it," said the assistant who later added, "[Bill] Belichick doesn't even have a headset on, so how's he calling the plays? Smoke signals? If you think a 28-year-old kid [quarterback coach Josh McDaniels] is doing it, you don't understand much about Belichick."
Right. Wonder if the assistant knows that Tom Brady also happens to be 28.
Rodney Harrison was reportedly fined $5,000 for the play on which he de-helmeted Stephen Davis of Carolina.
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