Monday, July 23, 2012
Mailbag: Playoff performance for the ages
By Mike Sando
Statistics alone could not measure Kellen Winslow's epic 166-yard receiving performance for the San Diego Chargers in January 1982.
The effort, delivered during an overtime victory against Miami, included Winslow blocking a field-goal try as regulation ended. Images of teammates helping an exhausted Winslow from the field helped this performance secure the No. 2 spot on ESPN's recent list of top individual playoff performances.
Winslow's memorable game against the Dolphins came to mind Monday when Chilly from New York asked where Vernon Davis' recent playoff performances for the San Francisco 49ers ranked among those for other tight ends in NFL postseason history.
Chilly did not mention Winslow when targeting the NFC West mailbag, but get this: Davis' winning 14-yard touchdown reception in the final nine seconds of a divisional-round victory over New Orleans accounted for the gap between yardage totals for Davis (180) and Winslow (166) in those games. It let Davis supplant Winslow for the top spot on the NFL's single-game postseason yardage list for tight ends.
Davis caught 10 passes for 292 yards and four touchdowns in his two postseason appearances. The 292-yard total was the highest in NFL history for a tight end's first two playoff games, according to Elias Sports Bureau (via the 49ers).
According to the 49ers, Davis became the fifth player -- not just tight end, but player -- in the Super Bowl era with two receiving touchdowns in successive playoff games during the same postseason. That put him in elite company with Hakeem Nicks, Larry Fitzgerald, Jerry Rice and Dave Casper.
Steve from Minneapolis questioned my suggestion that Marshawn Lynch's absence from the lineup largely explained why the Seattle Seahawks scored only three points against Cleveland last season.
"Sando, the game the hawks scored three points was also the game Charlie Whitehurst was QB'ing," he wrote. "Good misdirect otherwise."
Mike Sando: Whitehurst? The name sounds familiar. Can't quite place it. Ah, yes, now I recall. He was indeed the starter against the Browns. His play certainly contributed to the team's demise in that game, but Lynch's absence was the leading storyline (along with some dropped passes late in the game).
Whitehurst had his limitations, obviously, but fared a lot better on the road against the New York Giants when Lynch was a factor. Lynch's absence at Cleveland left Seattle unable to run its offense. That became a huge storyline this offseason, enhancing Lynch's value as a free agent while leading the team to acquire big backs at Justin Forsett's expense.
By the draft, coach Pete Carroll sounded fatigued by that particular line of questioning.
That's it for now. The mailbag tends to run light this deep in July. At least the Arizona Cardinals will give us more to talk about when they open training camp Wednesday.