Just over a year after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, running back Jamaal Charles put to rest any worries that he wouldn't recover his explosiveness, carrying the Kansas City Chiefs to a 27-24 overtime victory against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday.
Charles rushed for 233 yards, 91 of which came on a huge touchdown run, showing that he's back to being his dynamic self. Three key factors led to his big day in New Orleans:
1) He didn't hesitate.
Charles is at his best when he avoids peeking and dancing in the backfield. When he accelerates immediately after taking the handoff, he can explode through small creases and produce large gains. That's exactly what he did against the Saints' defense.
2) The Chiefs' offensive line set the edge.
Charles is the NFL's best perimeter runner. But in order for him to turn the corner, Kansas City's offensive tackles must seal off their defenders on the end of the line of scrimmage, commonly referred to as "setting the edge." Branden Albert and Eric Winston were both instrumental to several long runs because of their effectiveness in this area.
3) The Saints' defense is slow.
This was the third week in a row that an opposing rushing attack gashed the Saints. The main reason for New Orleans' struggles is the defense's lack of speed. This was evident during that 91-yard touchdown run, which saw Charles go untouched on his way to the end zone.