Thursday, June 4, 2015

Marion Motley: Carrying the Team on Your Back

By TJ Troup

On October 8th, 1950 Billy "The Commanche Kid" Grimes gained 167 yards on just 10 carries in the Packers loss to the New York Yanks. That set an NFL record for yards per attempt, that lasted for three weeks. Oddly short for an NFL record.

Why? Because on October 29th, when the Browns played the Steelers at home (for the first time in what became their long rivalry) extraordinary events occurred. Cleveland was coming off a difficult loss to the New York Giants in which they scored only one touchdown, and gained only 83 yards rushing on 32 running plays. A 30-year old fullback who had not flourished during his first encounters with NFL defenses set a record that stood until 2002.

Here is a carry-by-carry review based on the study of the game film:
1st quarter: Opening drive; on the Steeler 17-yard line Motley has his first carry on a trap right for 13 yards as he powers through the Pittsburgh secondary. Then on a first and ten and Motley gained a yard on a dive up the middle. Otto Graham finishes the drive with a 3-yard run for the score. The long Steeler drive is stopped, but Cleveland cannot advance and Horace Gillom punts. Pittsburgh is stopped by the first of six interceptions by the ball-hawking Browns defense. Motley then carries on a second and long from the Cleveland 9 yard line; and on a trap left Motley gains 8 yards as the quarter ends.
Marion Motley. Colorization by John Turney
2nd quarter: On another first and ten on the Cleveland 37-yard line, Motley gains 6 on a well-blocked cross buck play. Second and four on the 43. the play is a toss sweep right and the big man rumbles for 54 yards down the right sideline before hustling right corner Jim Finks knocks him out of bounds on the Steeler 3-yard line. The Pittsburgh defense stiffens, and Lou Groza kicks a 13-yard field goal. On the ensuing drive Cleveland again intercepts and on first and ten on the Steeler 49-yard line Motley gains 3 yards on a trap left. Graham is pressured by Nicksich on a Steeler defensive line twist stunt; yet Otto has the wherewithal to flip the ball into the left flat to Motley who keeps his balance as he breaks tackles, losing his helmet in the process, and scores on the 33 yard pass play. Again on the next drive, Cleveland intercepts. The Browns are forced to punt and the half ends with Pittsburgh losing a fumble. Cleveland 17 Pittsburgh 0.

3rd quarter: The Steelers are stopped at the Cleveland 31-yard line. On the second play of the drive on second and ten (and on another trap left) behind Weldon Humble's block Motley powers up the middle, patiently waiting for an opening, and whoosh.......he is gone as he accelerates past Finks and McWilliams to score on his longest run of the campaign (69 yards). Pittsburgh is again stopped and on his next carry Motley gains 20 more yards on a cross buck. Marion Motley had gained 174 yards rushing on just 8 carries. No matter what 8-man front Pittsburgh attempted to play (either 5-3 or 6-2) the outstanding Cleveland offensive line made the necessary blocks. However, the rest of the game Motley carries only 3 more times for 14 yards as coach Paul Brown gives back-up fullback Emerson Cole a chance to play with a commanding lead.

In all Motley carried for 188 yards on 11 carries for a 17.1 yards a carry average. That was broken by Michael Vick in 2002 when the quarterback ran for 173 7ards on 10 carries against the Minnesota Vikings.
Motley. Colorization by John Turney

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