“O” as in offense

“O” as in offense

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Class of 2011 Finalists Notes

The Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2011 will be voted on during the annual selection meeting held at the site of Super Bowl XLV. The Hall of Fame's selection committee will meet in Dallas on Saturday, Feb. 5 to elect no fewer than four and no more than seven members with a maximum of five modern-era candidates.

Nine of the 2011 finalists were offensive players – three running backs, three wide receivers, two linemen, and a tight end. Here are notes on the group.

Jerome Bettis

Bettis' longest touchdown run of his career came during his rookie season on a 71-yarder in the first quarter of the Los Angeles Rams' 23-20 win over the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 12, 1993. He averaged 7.6 yards per carry to finish the day with a career-high 212 yards to become just the eighth rookie running back ever to gain 200 yards in a game. His big day was produced in just three quarters of play as he sat out the second quarter with a bruised abdomen.

Bettis seemed to enjoy playing the Saints early in his career. He recorded his first 100-yard rushing game and his only 200-yard rushing performance (see note above) against the Rams' division rival during his rookie season. The following season he had his first career TD reception against the Saints in Week 14. It came on a 5-yard pass from quarterback Chris Miller and was one of just three touchdown receptions Bettis had in his NFL career.

In 1997, he became the third player in NFL history to score two touchdowns in overtime in the same season. The first game-winner came in the Steelers' 23-17 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 26 when Bettis took a shovel pass from quarterback Kordell Stewart and raced 17 yards to the end zone. Five weeks later it was Bettis' 10-yard run, his third TD of the game, which lifted the Steelers to a 26-20 road victory against the Arizona Cardinals.

Tim Brown

Brown had 14 catches for 164 yards in the Raiders season finale against the Jackson Jaguars on Dec. 21, 1997. His big game allowed him to set a long list of team records. The first of which was establishing a new Raiders mark for most receptions in a game that he previously shared with Hall of Fame tight end Dave Casper (12). He also supplanted Hall of Fame wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff as the Raiders' career leader in receptions, broke Todd Christensen's mark for most catches in a season, and topped Art Powell's single-season record for receiving yards.

He joined Jerry Rice and Cris Carter as only the third player in NFL history reach the 1,000-catch mark. The milestone reception came on Dec. 2, 2002 on a nine-yard pass play from quarterback Rich Gannon in the third quarter of the Raiders 26-20 win over the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. Brown finished the game with 8 receptions for 90 yards.

Tim Brown raced 97 yards for a touchdown on his first NFL kickoff. The play put the Raiders out in front of the San Diego Chargers 14-3 late in the first half of the Week One game. Oakland won 24-13 as Brown totaled 157 yards on punt returns and kickoff returns in his NFL debut. The return was Brown's only TD on a kickoff return in his entire career.

Cris Carter

The Cardinals may have been Carter's favorite team to play against. His first NFL reception was a 22-yard TD catch from Randall Cunningham in the second quarter against the St. Louis Cardinals on Nov. 1, 1987, helping Philadelphia to a 28-23 victory. Carter would go on to play 13 career games against the team. Along with his 13 TDs (Carter's highest total versus any team) he caught 76 balls for 1,045 yards against the Cardinals.

Carter's single-game reception high is 14 which he caught from quarterback Warren Moon for 167 yards on Oct. 2, 1994 against Arizona. It was one of 14 games in his career that he had 10 or more catches.

Carters' last career reception came against the team in which he registered a team-record 1,004 career catches. He caught a 15-yard pass from quarterback Jay Fielder as a member of the Miami Dolphins during a 20-17 loss on the road against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 21, 2002.

Dermontti Dawson

Dawson started five of eight games as a rookie in 1988. He made his first start at left guard against the Buffalo Bills in Week 4 but was injured. He returned two months later at right guard and embarked on a streak 170 consecutive starts.

In 1989, he was moved to center to replace the legendary Hall of Famer Mike Webster. Dawson also served as the team's long snapper from his rookie season in 1988 until 1993.

Dawson was integral part of a Steelers offense line who in 1995 allowed just 24 sacks while Pittsburgh quarterbacks attempted a record 592 passes that season.

Marshall Faulk

Faulk exploded onto the NFL scene. He rushed for 143 yards and scored three TDs in his debut versus the Houston Oilers on Sept. 4, 1994. Big gains were the norm for him as he won Rookie of the Year honors. That season Faulk had 31 carries of 10+ yards, 18 of 15+, 12 of 20+ and carries of 30 or more yards five times. He capped the memorable year by being the only rookie voted to the Pro Bowl and was named Player of the Game after setting the Pro Bowl record of 180 yards rushing on just 13 carries.

In 1999, his first with the Rams, he established the single-season record for yards from scrimmage. His total of 2,429 yards broke the mark held by Hall of Famer Barry Sanders. Faulk surpassed Sanders' record on his 326th attempt which was 42 fewer touches than Sanders had during his record-setting year in 1997.

Faulk had eight 100-yard receiving games in his career. Three of them came during the 1998 season. His lone 200-yard receiving day occurred during his record-setting 1999 season. He had 12 catches for 204 yards and 1 touchdown (48 yards) in the Rams' 34-12 win over the Chicago Bears on Dec. 26, 1999. The bulk of his yardage came in the second quarter when he caught eight Kurt Warner passes for 152 yards. Faulk's receiving yardage total was the most by a running back in one game in more than three decades.

Curtis Martin

Martin threw two touchdown passes during his career, both to wide receiver Wayne Chrebet. The first was an 18-yard game-winner in the fourth quarter of a 27-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 24, 2000. The second TD pass of Martin's career occurred Dec. 9 the following season. It was an 18-yarder during an 18-7 loss at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Martin recorded a career-high eight receptions in a game four times. The first time he had eight catches in a game came during his rookie season in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Dec. 16, 1995. The other three games all occurred in the 2000 season (at Tampa Bay, 9/24; vs. Miami, Oct. 23; at Baltimore, Dec. 24).

In 2004 Martin became the oldest player in NFL history (31 years) to lead the league in rushing. Hall of Famer Marion Motley previously held that distinction when at age 30 he lead the NFL in rushing in 1950.

Andre Reed

Reed has 75 carries for 500 yards and one rushing TD during his 16-season career. His lone touchdown run came in the eighth game of his rookie season against the Philadelphia Eagles. He took a double reverse 14 yards for the first score of the day and only the third TD of his young career. The longest run of his career came on a 46-yard reverse in a 17-10 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 22, 1991. That day He led the Bills in rushing that day with 61 yards on just two carries. He highest rushing yardage output in one season came in 1991 when he racked up 136 yards on 12 carries. In total, Reed had a carry in 60 different games in his career. His teams posted wins in 43 of them.

Andre's 36 career 100-yard receiving games came against 18 different teams. The most 100-yard receiving games Reed produced in a season was seven in 1989. He registered the most 100-yard receiving games (eight) against the division rival New England Patriots. His best statistical game against the Patriots was on Sept. 27, 1992 when he recorded nine receptions for 168 yards and scored a touchdown in a 41-7 victory over the Pats.

Reed caught 87 touchdown passes during his career. He recorded 16 multi-touchdown games against eight different teams. Five of them came versus the Indianapolis Colts. The longest touchdown of Reed's career came in a multi-touchdown game against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 4, 1994 when he took a pass 83 yards to pay dirt.

Willie Roaf

In three of Roaf's four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs he helped them lead the AFC in total yards gained (2003-05). Two of those seasons, 2004 and 2005, the Chiefs led the NFL in total yards gained. In 2002 and 2003, Roaf's Chiefs also lead the league in points scored.

In 2000, Willie lead the New Orleans Saints to just their fifth playoff appearance and first playoff victory in franchise history when the Saints defeated the St. Louis Rams 31-28 in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

Roaf's 11 AFC-NFC Pro Bowl selections tied him with Hall of Famer Anthony Muñoz for the most Pro Bowl nominations of an offensive tackle.

Shannon Sharpe

Sharpe had 7 catches for 101 yards and 3 TDs to help the Denver Broncos to a convincing 37-8 win over the San Diego Chargers at Invesco Field at Mile High on Nov. 16, 2003. His last TD of the day, a 26-yarder from QB Jake Plummer late in third quarter, was his 61st of his career which set a new NFL record for career TD receptions by a tight end. It broke the mark previously owned by Jerry Smith of the Washington Redskins.

Two of Sharpe's more memorable days came in playoff games against the Raiders. He set the playoff record for most receptions when he had 13 catches for 156 yards and 1 TD for the Denver Broncos against the L.A. Raiders on Jan. 6, 1993. That reception total remains tied for the most ever in a playoff game. Then, as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, he hauled in a 96-yard TD reception that helped lead the Ravens to a 16-3 win over the Oakland Raiders in the 2000 AFC Championship Game and berth in the Super Bowl. Today, his TD catch remains the longest ever in a postseason game.

Sharpe retired with 19 career 100-yard receiving games under his belt. His lone 200-yard receiving effort came against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Oct. 20, 2002. He registered 12 catches for 214 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Denver's 37-34 overtime victory. His two scores both came in the second half. The first was an 82-yard touchdown that tied the game at 13-13 early in the third quarter. His second TD catch came on a 28-yard reception in the fourth quarter.

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