Master at Open Field Running.
"The best offense is a very good
When the San Diego Chargers play football this Sunday, its their defense I will be
with special anticipation. For my
money, the most exciting player on the field is a defensive back named Antonio
Cromartie. Watch him go! He
is the Charger who usually runs back punts, kick-offs and missed field goal attempts.
I know it's easier, and customary, to
watch just the offensive quarterback and the ball. But when the Chargers
are on defense, watch this Antonio
Cromartie, number "31".
.Listed as 6'2", his leaps at passes match those players 4 inches higher. He
has intercepted 11 passes this
season. That number leads all of
professional football, and he did not even start on defense until the fifth
game of the season. It's how he
runs after he gets the ball that is the most exciting. He spins, turns and runs
much faster than any of other team's big,
bulking offensive players. In open field running, he has a rare knack for
knowing how to break free and make those
huge runs that go from one end of the field to another.
Cromartie run 109.9 yards for a touch-down
In a spectacular play against Minnesota this Fall, he returned a missed field goal
yards. Above is the video of the
longest touchdown run of all-time anywhere. The offensive linemen barely laid
hand on him.
Against Indianapolis' famous passer, Peyton Manning, he made three interceptions by the
back in November. Cromartie was not
even a first-string player then. He was filling in for injured Quentin Jammer.
Apparently, Manning was picking on him
early on, because he was considered experienced. .Modestly, Cromartie
said afterwards, "I was just
trying to cover my guy and make the plays." "It was big,"
said Charger safety Clinton
Hart, who also had an interception that
night. "Three picks on Peyton Manning, that rarely, ever, ever happens, and
it probably won't ever happen again by
one player. For a young guy like that to get that jump, that's big. You can
see his confidence has risen to a
different level. You can see how he plays, how comfortable he is out there. I told
him, you get one early and it relaxes you
for the rest of the game and the rest of them just come to you." His third
interception was a spectacular leaping
This past Saturday, against Indianapolis in the play-offs, Cromartie picked off another
Manning pass at
his 10 yard line, ran back along the
sidelines and at mid-field picked up four blockers and cut across the field
all the way to the far side and than ran
for a touchdown, only to have it called back by a Referee because of a
questionable holding penalty against San
Diego far away from the play action. It was a sensational play, even
though it was called back by a referee
who is known for making dreadful calls. By then the fame of Cromartie's
long runs was getting out. His fans were
everywhere. About this run, one wrote:
"Holy crap! That was an amazing interception return. Cromartie is still
recovering from the
stomach flu, and ran the Manning pick back 89 yards for a touchdown
Chargers got hosed
on a crap-hold call by Phil Luckett. Based on the replay, it looked like the Colts
player was holding Eric
Weddle by the helmet, not the other way around."
this fabulous run. See if you can spot any Charger holding
Cromartie's success looks so effortless that we forget how hard he trains and how thorough
he is in his
preparations. Before each new game,
he studies on film the moves of the other teams' offensive pass receivers.
He looks for "tells" which
reveal where the receiver is really going down-field.
He is gifted with strength, speed and playing instincts. Cromartie leads the league
with 11 interceptions.
He made the Pro Bowl and even garnered
three votes for defensive player of the year. And he's only going to
get better. Scouting reports say
Cromartie will guess on some plays, which can leave him vulnerable to completions
and that he still can be beaten with some
double moves. But for how long. His improvement as a regular player
is stunning. Each week he finds new
ways to bring the crowd to their feet. The Charger's secondary coach,
Bill bradley, said Cromartie
progressed more this season than any player he has coached in 24 seasons as a
college or professional coach...
"This is the fastest rise I've had the privilege to coach, and I've coached some
good ones," Bradley said. "The
sky is the limit for him now. It's still all in front of him."
It is to the Charger's credit that they selected him as a first round draft pick in 2007.
He played only
two years at Florida State.
In 2006, his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. He went home. For financial
reasons, he decided to turn pro
without playing a senior year in college.
he play against New England this weekend? He has been battling a stomach virus but
he be an offensive player? Maybe, next year, says his coach Norv Turner.
quarterbacks are learning to throw to receivers on the other side of the field.
44 tackles 11 interceptions in 2007-8
INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 13: Marvin Harrison #88 of the Indianapolis Colts fumbles the ball
in the first quarter against Antonio Cromartie #31 of the San Diego Chargers during their
AFC Divisional Playoff game at the RCA Dome on January 13, 2008 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Chargers won 28-24. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Personal Information at
Chargers' website: http://www.chargers.com/team/roster/antonio-cromartie.htm
BAD OFFICIATING CAN RUIN A GREAT GAME
Luckett is the referee whose holding call cancelled Cromartie's sensational 80 yard
return of an intercepted Peyton Manning pass.
He is the ex-referee who left the NFL in shame because he
could not get a coin flip right during a
nationally televised1998 Thanksgiving Day NFL game.
For details, please see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Luckett
Phil Luckett's holding call
against the Chargers made me think the officials seemed to want Indianapolis to win.
All four replays went in the
Colts' favor. His horrible holding call in the final seconds of the first half
a long touchdown return by San Diego cornerback Antonio Cromartie.
TV announcer and former quarterback Boomer Esiason
also noted that it was a "very bad call."