It’s great to be home for this week’s game. I’m really amped up to see and hear the crowd at the Dome.
We haven’t been home in over a month, and to not have to get on an airplane this week is going to be beneficial not only to myself, but to my teammates. It seems like we’ve been flying all over the world. For us to have a full week at home, have our home crowd behind us and support us, it’s important.
We’re still fighting and clawing to be in this divisional race and to do so we have to make sure we take care of home. We have a very dangerous opponent coming in the New York Jets and they know our offensive staff very well, with Coach Schottenheimer coming from there. There will be some familiarity and things that we will have to do to combat that.
It’s going to be another tough game at home, but we’ve been pretty good at home and we take pride in defending our home field. So I want to hear all our fans in the Dome getting loud on Sunday and disrupting the Jets. We need you!
FIT TO BE TIED
Last Sunday was the first tie I’ve ever been a part of in football at any level. It’s one of those things that on rare occasions, it happens. It happened last in 2008 with the Eagles, and there was the controversy with some of the guys not knowing what was taking place and how it was going to unfold. With that as a point of reference, I was pretty aware of how the overtime was going to go.
As the game went on, I tried to remind myself and others on the sideline that, even in overtime, it’s important to stay pretty even keel, keep your emotions in check and focus on the play at hand. We don’t want to get caught up in the game as if we’re bystanders watching. We have to go out there and execute.
We knew going into that game last week that the San Francisco 49ers were going to be a very tough team, especially at home. They’re the No. 2 ranked defense in the league ,and we knew that we were going to have to fight for every yard.
With that in mind, you had to wonder if we could resolve it in 15 more minutes. I just went into the OT period hoping we could put them away. Early in the extra minutes of play, it looked like we might. We had that big explosive play by Danny Amendola, but unfortunately, it was called back. After that happened, neither team could get much going, and when their kicker missed that field goal, I knew we were in for a long one.
When you walk off the field after a tie, it feels a lot like a loss. You’re disappointed you didn’t get the win. With all the hard work that you put in all week, game-planning and studying, getting ready for them, for you not to come out with a win is disappointing.
Afterward, you look back at the game, and I think we definitely had our opportunities to pull the game out and win it without even going to overtime and in overtime too, we had our chance to put it away. But the San Francisco 49ers showed why they are such a dangerous team and you have to give them respect as well. They did a good job of clawing back in the game and fighting us off.
But in that situation, you can hang your hat on the fact that guys fought and gave their all. I think you saw that exemplified on both sides of the football field. Both teams gave everything they had. I think if we had to go into a second overtime, the intensity would remain the same and guys would fight for every yard until someone came out a victor.
I definitely take that game as a positive, especially for us as a young team. We put up over 400 yards of total offense against the number two ranked defense. It shows that we’re making strides in the right areas.
But we still have a lot to learn, and a lot of those penalties we had on offense were pre-snap. So that’s not something the San Francisco 49ers did to us, but what we did to ourselves. We have to continue to grow and mature in those areas. But you can see the flashes of a very potent offense that we possess.
It was great to have Danny Amendola back in the mix at receiver. Danny is one of our warriors on the team. When we knew we were getting him back, you could see the excitement in the offensive unit. We know that explosive play that he possesses, and that his ability to work the slot can frustrate defenses. He definitely adds something to our offense. He creates mismatches in so many areas on the field. For him to come out there and have explosive plays, not only on offense, but in special teams too, he showed why he means so much to us.
For me personally, it felt really good to get a high volume of carries and take it to that defense. That’s the type of rhythm that I feel I play best at, when I’m within the flow of the game and able to apply my will on a defense. I want to pressure them in a way to make them respect the run game. When we did that, not only did I feel good, but I felt that it kept them very honest. They had to respect the run and it allowed for plays downfield to open up.
It also allowed for some lanes when Daryl Richardson came in to spell me. Daryl has done a great job coming in for me all season long, especially Sunday. I was able to use my big body to wear the defense down and he comes in with his speed and the way he hits the hole. It definitely created a lot of explosive plays for him, and I’m pretty sure it kept them on their heels because we are two explosive runners.
I take great pride in trying to be the best all-around running back in the National Football League. That’s being able to run inside and outside, block in pass protection and catch the ball downfield.
I do understand that as I continue to grow in this league and go through my ninth season this year and into my 10th season next year, I have to be fine-tuned in all areas of the game. My goal is always that no matter what scenario the game may dictate, the offensive coordinator doesn’t have to pull me out because I lack the ability to do something. I take great pride in being able to do everything on a football field that a running back has to do.
For me, hitting a big block — like the one I had against Patrick Willis to set up the touchdown pass in the fourth quarter — feels just as good as hitting a long run. We all have to have each other’s back and on that particular play, it was a run option. We knew they were thinking about the run and would bite the cheese on the run, especially that close to the goal line. Patrick just came through going ahead full steam at Sam and I did all I could to stop him in his tracks so we could get the ball off.
Going against Patrick is one of my favorite matchups — if not my favorite matchup — of the season. It’s one of those games that when the schedule comes out, I circle those two dates because I know I have to bring my A game when I’m facing Patrick Willis and that 49ers defense. He’s my measuring stick year-in and year-out, and I think we both have a great deal of respect for one another. It makes it fun when you have two great competitors going at each other.