Reed on the run

Reed on the run

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Class of 2014 Enshrinee Andre Reed was one of the game’s greatest wide receivers. His 951 career receptions ranked third in National Football League history at the time of his retirement after the 2000 season. Even more compelling is that Reed’s receptions numbers, more than 13 years after his career ended, still stand as 11th best all-time. Quite impressive compared to the numbers that receivers are racking up in today’s pass-first offenses.

The signature skill, however, during Reed’s 16 seasons was not his ability to catch a pass, it was what he did with the football after he caught one. The term “YAC,” short for “Yards After Catch,” may have been specifically invented to measure Reed’s knack for turning catches into big gains. His ability to catch a pass and make plays was a big part of the Buffalo Bills’ success during their high octane “no-huddle” offense that made them one of the NFL’s dominant teams in the late-1980s and early ‘90s.

“There was probably no one ever better in my estimation as a receiver in coming across the middle,” shared Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy who will present Reed for Enshrinement. “The nickname I bestowed upon him was ‘YAC,’ not because he talked a lot, although he could handle that part too, but because of yards after catch.”

Reed was fearless going over the middle. His courage and resolve to ignore the linebackers and defensive backs waiting to deliver a blow as he crossed into their territories is what made him exceptional. After he caught the ball, his strength to absorb a hit and his speed to evade a defender, proved to be a deadly combination.

Reed accomplished a great deal with his YAC ability. One example – the longest reception of his career (an 83-yard TD against the Miami Dolphins on Dec. 4, 1994) would not have occurred without YAC. In the game, the Bills were facing a third-and-one situation on the Dolphins 17-yard line. Quarterback Jim Kelly passed the ball over the middle. Reed, who had lined up at the left slot, was able to shake off tight press coverage to the inside of the field and nabbed the ball on the Miami 31. Reed evaded a diving defender and then raced the remaining 69 yards to the end zone to solidify the Bills’ 42-31 victory.

The NFL did not officially measure YAC until the 1993 NFL Season. Here is a year-by-year breakdown of Reed’s YAC from that year through his final season in 2000 with Washington.

Year Team G No. Yds. Avg. TD YAC Yards YAC Per Reception
1993 Buffalo 15 52 854 16.4 6 293 5.7
1994 Buffalo 16 90 1,303 14.5 8 454 5.0
1995 Buffalo 6 24 312 13.0 3 76 3.2
1996 Buffalo 16 66 1,036 15.7 6 344 5.2
1997 Buffalo 15 60 880 14.7 5 210 3.5
1998 Buffalo 15 63 795 12.6 5 234 3.7
1999 Buffalo 16 52 536 10.3 1 120 2.3
2000 Washington 13 10 103 10.3 1 14 1.4
Total   112 417 5,819 14.0 35 1,745 4.2
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