Commentary

Ward, Shiancoe join select company

Originally Published: December 22, 2008
By Bill Barnwell | Football Outsiders

It's not often that Giants running back Derrick Ward and Hall of Famer Barry Sanders are mentioned in the same sentence. That changed Sunday night, equally because of what Ward did and didn't do.

Ward ran for 215 yards on 15 carries against the Panthers, the fewest carries needed to accrue 200 yards or more in a game in NFL history. That's impressive, but what makes Ward's day even weirder is that he didn't score a touchdown.

That's the second-most rushing yards in a game in NFL history for a player who didn't score a touchdown. The guy who scored the most rushing yards in one game without scoring a touchdown? Sanders, who ran for 237 yards against the Buccaneers in Week 11 of the 1994 season.

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Ward ended up with 21 fantasy points on the day, one of the best performances for a running back without scoring a touchdown since 1995. Ricky Watters, who had 22.9 points in Week 6 of 1995, owns the best.

Ward wasn't the only one who had a historic week. Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe has achieved notoriety this year through somewhat unsavory means, but his performance against the Falcons on Sunday was nothing short of extraordinary. Shiancoe ripped apart Atlanta for 136 receiving yards and two touchdowns, catching all seven passes thrown to him.

According to our numbers, that's the second-best performance of any tight end since 1995. His 81 DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) were second only to the 87 DYAR garnered by Shannon Sharpe in Week 6 of the 1996 season against the Chargers. Sharpe caught all 13 of the passes sent his way, picking up 153 yards and three touchdowns along the way. (You can read about the best and worst tight end games since 1995 in this article.)

Here are the rest of the best and worst players of Week 16, according to the Football Outsiders DYAR statistics.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
EYds
1.
Peyton Manning IND
29/34
364
3
0
260
272
-12
535
As we've predicted throughout the season, Manning is picking up a ton of MVP steam thanks to his performance against an incredibly easy slate of second-half defenses. That's not to take away from the Colts' winning streak or Manning's brilliant performance last Thursday, but it is a commentary on what happens when you don't pay attention to the opposition.
2.
Philip Rivers SD
22/31
287
4
0
236
236
0
482
At one point, Rivers completed nine consecutive passes, eight of which went for 11 yards or more.
3.
Drew Brees NO
31/41
365
2
0
176
176
0
471
Brees and Devery Henderson put up one of the greater lines in recent memory together: Two attempts, two completions, 96 yards. You have to wonder whether that sort of stuff makes Robert Meachem jealous.
4.
Matt Cassel NE
20/36
345
3
0
142
132
10
388
Here's a question. If we told you two quarterbacks were going to play a game in the snow, which one would you choose? The quarterback who grew up and went to college in California? Or the quarterback who grew up and went to college in Iowa? Because of the teams that acquired them at the professional level, somehow, Cassel is the quarterback who can handle the snow and Kurt Warner is the overwhelmed one. Sometimes, easy narratives don't make sense.
5.
Kerry Collins TEN
20/29
216
1
0
139
139
0
347
Are the Titans adapting their offense to the opposition's strategy? In Week 16, they threw all of two passes to their running backs, with Chris Johnson gaining a single yard on those two completions.
6.
Chad Pennington MIA
26/34
235
3
1
120
120
0
354
Pennington had 85 DYAR on five throws to Anthony Fasano and David Martin (who combined for three scores); the other 29 throws were worth 35 DYAR. The Chiefs stayed on course for history, meanwhile, by failing to sack Pennington. They have only nine sacks through 15 games, on pace to break the record for fewest sacks set by the 1982 Colts, who had 11 … in a strike-shortened season.
7.
Jake Delhomme CAR
12/20
188
1
0
115
115
0
271
Delhomme's 60-yard pass to Muhsin Muhammad, of course, was equal parts serendipity and chuck. Teams are attacking the Giants with swing passes and angle routes by their running backs, but the Panthers chose to throw only four passes to Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams.
8.
Jay Cutler DEN
25/45
359
0
1
108
83
25
425
Cutler had six completions of 20 yards or more. Somehow, he split five of them between Daniel Graham, Tony Scheffler and Darrell Jackson. Brandon Marshall got the other one, but he fumbled the ball away at the end of his play.
9.
Seneca Wallace SEA
18/25
175
1
0
103
103
0
276
Take the Cassel comment. Replace Cassel with Brett Favre and the Warner comment with Wallace (who grew up in California, but spent his college career playing for Iowa State).
10.
JaMarcus Russell OAK
18/25
236
2
0
98
98
0
278
The Raiders have defaulted back to a bizarro-1996 playbook. Darren McFadden is Napoleon Kaufman. Justin Fargas is Harvey Williams. Johnnie Lee Higgins is James Jett. Chaz Schilens is a poor man's Tim Brown. Russell? He's Billy Joe Hobert with a fatter paycheck.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
EYds
11.
Eli Manning NYG
17/27
181
1
0
93
93
0
300
His magical powers to avoid having a tipped duck caught and picked saved the game for the Giants -- Jon Beason had an interception inside the Panthers' 5-yard line go right through his hands.
12.
Tony Romo DAL
24/45
252
2
2
89
107
-19
350
Romo's production was a bit of a mirage that owed its existence to the Ravens playing a prevent defense for most of the final 20 minutes. When the score was within a touchdown or less, Romo had -27 passing DYAR. He had 120 passing DYAR when the Cowboys were down by two scores.
13.
David Garrard JAC
28/40
329
1
1
88
76
11
378
Garrard was 8-of-9 for 86 yards and five first downs to his tight ends.
14.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
26/38
331
2
2
61
73
-12
298
Five sacks, four fumbles, two lost, two picks. If Heath Miller (8-of-9 for 69 yards and five first downs) were ever allowed to get downfield on a regular basis, he'd be a superstar.
15.
Matt Ryan ATL
13/24
134
1
0
53
67
-15
187
Only 2-of-7 on third downs, which didn't help his situation. He was also charged with a fumble on his Elway-esque scamper toward the end zone.
16.
Trent Edwards BUF
18/25
193
1
0
50
44
7
209
17.
Ryan Fitzpatrick CIN
5/9
55
1
0
42
34
8
120
Fitzpatrick threw one pass on first down and one pass on second down.
18.
Jason Campbell WAS
18/33
144
0
0
31
15
16
244
Campbell was 0-of-6 in the fourth quarter, despite throwing four passes 2 yards or fewer in the air.
19.
Tarvaris Jackson MIN
22/36
233
2
0
20
13
7
262
20.
Donovan McNabb PHI
27/45
238
0
0
18
21
-3
273
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
EYds
21.
Joe Flacco BAL
17/25
149
1
0
3
-4
7
171
No truth to the rumors that Flacco, sacked five times Saturday night, curled into a fetal position upon seeing a DeMarcus Ware poster Friday afternoon at the mall.
22.
Dan Orlovsky DET
10/23
125
0
2
2
2
0
139
23.
Matt Schaub HOU
19/35
254
0
1
2
-4
5
217
Schaub was 5-of-16 on passes to his wide receivers. Fortunately for the Texans, one of them went to David Anderson for 65 yards.
24.
Tyler Thigpen KC
20/41
320
2
3
-3
-28
25
294
The Chiefs moved out of the Pistol as their primary set in Week 16. It'll be interesting to see if that's a prelude to them drafting Sam Bradford or Matt Stafford this offseason in lieu of sticking with Thigpen.
25.
Jeff Garcia TB
22/34
237
1
2
-16
-49
34
233
26.
Marc Bulger STL
19/36
227
1
1
-26
-22
-4
163
If this is how he's performing after realizing he was tipping his passes, he might want to go back to whatever he was doing before.
27.
Kurt Warner ARI
6/18
38
0
0
-53
-53
0
18
28.
Matt Leinart ARI
6/14
138
1
1
-83
-88
6
-24
Huge bomb to Larry Fitzgerald? Nice. Two fumbles on sacks within four plays? Not so nice.
29.
Brett Favre NYJ
18/31
187
0
2
-91
-91
0
78
Favre succeeded on his first third-down attempt of the day. He proceeded to fail on each of his nine other third-down attempts, including two sacks and a pick.
30.
Shaun Hill SF
18/34
216
2
3
-114
-135
22
76
31.
Ken Dorsey CLE
10/17
68
0
3
-172
-172
0
-150
1-for-3 for 4 yards and a pick on first down. 2-of-7 for 12 yards, a sack and two picks on second down. Somehow, 7-of-9 for 52 yards on third down.
Five most valuable running backs
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
EYds
1.
Derrick Ward NYG
215
0
-5
0
68
82
-14
164
Ward's an unrestricted free agent after the season. Think anyone's seen the Michael Turner story and is ready to cast Ward in the sequel for their team? It's unlikely that the Giants, with Ahmad Bradshaw waiting in the wings, would match a big-money offer to their backup halfback.
2.
Sammy Morris NE
88
0
45
0
61
41
20
164
Five first downs on 15 attempts is nice. Eight of those 15 attempts were "successful" plays, picking up the necessary percentage of yardage to actually push his team closer toward a first down.
3.
Larry Johnson KC
108
1
0
0
54
54
0
139
Johnson had four consecutive carries that went for first downs, always a good feeling.
4.
Maurice Jones-Drew JAC
91
0
71
0
43
5
38
186
The momentary fears that MJD was hurt and that Fred Taylor would have to come back for next year put horrible thoughts into every Jaguars fan's heart, but Jones-Drew ended up OK. Most of his work came in the passing game, in which he caught every pass thrown to him but one, picking up 72 yards after the catch in the meantime.
5.
Tashard Choice DAL
90
1
25
0
40
55
-15
172
Choice is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Dallas, which remains a problem because he's assured of being the third-string back next year. A trade of Choice for draft picks to replace part of the bounty sent to Detroit for WR Roy Williams makes too much sense to happen.
Least valuable running back
Rk
Player
Team
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
EYds
1.
Tim Hightower ARI
17
0
18
0
-53
-19
-34
-37
Hightower didn't run for a single first down, failing on carries of third-and-4, second-and-5 and third-and-3. He fumbled on one of his two completions. Not a good scene.
Five most valuable wide receivers and tight ends
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
EYds
1.
Visanthe Shiancoe MIN
7
7
136
19.4
2
81
215
Every one of Shiancoe's catches went for a first down or a touchdown. Shiancoe also had an impressive 42 yards after the catch.
2.
Reggie Wayne IND
7
8
108
15.4
1
59
135
Five first downs or touchdowns on eight attempts, and Wayne came through on both third downs he was targeted on.
3.
Justin Gage TEN
5
8
104
20.8
1
54
133
Gage is the Titans' Chris Chambers -- three incomplete passes, one 6-yard completion and four catches of 17 yards or more.
4.
Owen Daniels HOU
7
8
111
15.9
0
51
151
With Andre Johnson shackled by Nnamdi Asomugha, Daniels was Matt Schaub's only consistently open target. When Asomugha left the game in the fourth quarter, Johnson got his attempts in.
5.
Santonio Holmes PIT
5
7
93
18.6
1
48
111
Hines Ward had 42 DYAR to Holmes' 48 -- that's thanks to the four first downs and a touchdown Holmes gained on only seven attempts.
Least valuable wide receiver or tight end
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
EYds
5.
Vernon Davis SF
1
4
17
17.0
0
-34
-51
As a receiver, Davis makes a great blocker. His one completion got him so excited that he promptly fumbled the ball. He was also the intended receiver on a Shaun Hill interception -- there's no extra penalty for that, but it's not exactly a good thing.

Bill Barnwell is an analyst for FootballOutsiders.com.

Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) is a staff writer for Grantland.