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For Indy, He's No Ordinary Joe
Jeffri Chadiha
February 13, 2007
BEHIND THE HARD RUNNING OF ROOKIE RUSHER JOSEPH ADDAI, THE COLTS ROLLED OVER LARRY JOHNSON AND THE CHIEFS
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February 13, 2007

For Indy, He's No Ordinary Joe

BEHIND THE HARD RUNNING OF ROOKIE RUSHER JOSEPH ADDAI, THE COLTS ROLLED OVER LARRY JOHNSON AND THE CHIEFS

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TEAM 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
KC 0 0 8 0 8
IND 6 3 7 7 23

JOSEPH ADDAI exited the RCA Dome in Indianapolis on Jan. 6 as unassumingly as he'd entered. Despite rushing for 122 yards and a touchdown on a season-high 25 carries in a 23--8 AFC wild-card playoff victory over Kansas City, the Colts' rookie back kept the hood of his oversized black sweatshirt pulled over his head as he trudged through a throng of fans. Only the purple-and-gold LSU backpack slung over his shoulder hinted he might be worth pursuing for an autograph.

The pregame talk had centered on what damage Pro Bowl back Larry Johnson would inflict on the Colts' weak rushing defense, leaving Addai happily overlooked. But while he stayed true to his low-key nature afterward--"I just wanted to start fast and be as productive as I could," Addai said--his impact on the Colts has been impossible to ignore. With Peyton Manning uncharacteristically sloppy against the Chiefs (he threw three interceptions in the game), Indianapolis was forced to settle for three Adam Vinatieri field goals in the first half. But Kansas City's offense failed to reward its stingy defense; the Chiefs did not produce a first down in the first 40 minutes, and they trailed 9--0 at halftime. The Colts sealed the game on a 12-play, 89-yard touchdown drive midway through the third quarter. Addai carried six times on the drive, including the final four plays. His six-yard touchdown run put Indy up 16--0. Addai's rushing total was the third highest by a runner in Colts playoff history. "I've been hearing a lot of talk about Vince Young, but your rookie of the year gets dressed right over there," Colts guard Jake Scott told The Indianapolis Star after the game, pointing at Addai's locker.

As the 30th pick in the draft, Addai (226 carries) split duty this season with sixth-year veteran Dominic Rhodes (187), but Addai clearly has the greater upside, with the quickness and the vision to slash through defenses. " Joe is the most complete running back I've seen come into the league in a long time," said Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy.

What has helped Addai is that he has developed into a more patient runner with each week and that Dungy's platoon system has kept him fresh. In fact, that may be the scariest thing about Addai: As Kansas City learned in the game, he's just now hitting his stride. "We didn't want to give him 320 carries and then get to this point with him feeling like he's already played 20 games," said Dungy. "We wanted him to be ready for this time of year. And so far it looks like it's working."

GAME BOX
AT INDIANAPOLIS

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

RUSHING
KC: Johnson 13--32, Hall 2--14, Bennett 1--1, Green 1 for --3.
IND: Addai 25--122 (1 TD), Rhodes 13--68, Manning 2 for --2.
PASSING
KC: Green 14--24 for 107, 2 INTs, 1 TD.
IND: Manning 30--38 for 268, 3 INTs, 1 TD, Smith 1--1 for --16, 0 INTs, 0 TDs.
RECEIVING
KC: Johnson 5--29, Wilson 2--29, Gonzalez 4--25 (1 TD), Hall 2--12, Bennett 1--12.
IND: Clark 9--103, Harrison 2--48, Wayne 5--36 (1 TD), Addai 7--26, Rhodes 2--24, Moorehead 2--18, Utecht 2--17.

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