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The NFL
Peter King
December 12, 2005
U the Man
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December 12, 2005

The Nfl

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Johnson Makes A Major Run

Here's an unlikely candidate for NFL MVP: Chiefs running back Larry Johnson. If Kansas City (8-4) can survive the rest of its schedule--at Dallas, at the Giants, home against San Diego and Cincinnati (combined record 32-16)--and make it to the postseason, rest assured Johnson will have been vital to the cause.

Facing AFC West leader Denver at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, the third-year back out of Penn State was bottled up by the league's best run defense through three quarters (16 carries for 50 yards). "[But] we kept at it," Johnson said afterward. "Those guys on the line wanted to pound them more and more, even when we were struggling." Though the Chiefs fell behind 27-24 early in the fourth quarter, they stuck with the run. And Johnson responded with the best quarter of his pro career: 90 yards on 14 carries, including a 30-yard sweep around left end in which he waited for his blocking and then cut back against the pursuit.

At 6'1", 230 pounds, the 2003 first-rounder can be a punishing runner inside and is shifty enough to make linebackers miss on the outside. Kansas City has won four of its last five games, and Johnson rushed for more than 100 yards in each game. Against the Raiders on Nov. 6, his 36-yard romp on the second-to-last play set up the winning touchdown. Two weeks later against the Texans, he rushed for a career-high 211 yards in a blowout victory.

For the Chiefs, an inconsistent club on defense, to get through the grueling final month, they'll need to play ball control. In Johnson, they have the guy to do it.

BOLDIN'S BIG DAY

A Matter Of Honor

As usual, the Cardinals are already out of the playoff picture, but at least wideout Anquan Boldin had a very good game--following a very bad one. On Nov. 27 he lost his composure during a 24-17 loss to Jacksonville, getting flagged for two costly personal fouls in the second half. Boldin was so embarrassed that he wrote a letter that ran in the Friday editions of two Phoenix-area papers, stating, "I apologize to all Cardinals fans, residents of Arizona, the Cardinals organization, the coaching staff and my teammates. I made a poor choice in my behavior."

On Sunday he redeemed himself. In the fourth quarter, with Arizona down 10-9, he took a short pass, broke a tackle and sprinted down the sideline for a 54-yard touchdown that won the game, 17-10. In all, Boldin had 156 yards on a career-high 11 catches--and no penalties. "I deal with kids on a regular basis," Boldin said last Saturday, explaining the letter. "I wanted them to know I did something wrong and please don't follow my example. Now I'm just going to work on being the best player I can be."

DISPATCHES

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