LaRod Stephens-Howling could only smile. What else was he going to do?
His stat line from Sunday’s game against the Eagles was, well, there is no other way to put it — it was ugly. Forced into action down the stretch after Beanie Wells went out of the game and Ryan Williams was dealing with cramps, the Hyphen was battered at the line of scrimmage running plays that probably don’t fit his skill set the best. Plus the Eagles at the end knew the Cards would run the ball and were coming to stop it. So the Hyphen’s final numbers were eight carries for minus-14 yards.
“It was rough,” Stephens-Howling said. “And it was rough waking up Monday and seeing what the stats were. But again, we all knew what we had to do, we lost Beanie and we were short running backs, so I needed to get in there and take the carries. The win makes it better than those negative-14 yards.”
The end of game doesn’t explain everything. In fact, Stephens-Howling had three first-half carries that put him in a deep hole, losing 5, 4 and 2 yards, respectively. Of his eight carries, seven lost yardage. Since 1960, a total of 20 Cardinals have had a game in which they have had at least five carries and had zero or negative yards. Nine quarterback efforts dot the list. The running back closest to Stephens-Howling for day of difficulty was merely the best running back in franchise history, Ottis Anderson, who was stoned for minus-10 yards on 11 carries in a 1985 game against Dallas.
(Here’s the funny thing: Of those 20 games where a runner couldn’t get started, the Cardinals actually have a 12-7-1 record. And the Cardinals won both the game in which Anderson struggled and of course, Stephen-Howling’s game Sunday.)
Again, Stephens-Howling, who now has 12 total rushing attempts for a grand total of one yard on the season, took it in stride. The Cardinals won. They also actually ended up running the ball OK as a team, finishing with 99 yards on 34 tries and seeing Williams rip off a career-best 83-yard performance on just 13 carries. It was surprising from the Hyphen too, since the last couple of years he has been a threat to break a big play — and usually gets at least one — every time he touches the ball.
Going forward he will be needed to help Williams as the Cards deal with the long-term loss of Wells. Sunday the Cardinals needed carries and needed him to burn clock and hold on to the ball. He would have liked to gain yards, but the result worked out. And he’s willing to live with individual sacrifice. The Cards are, after all, 3-0.
“Hey that’s what I am here to do,” Stephens-Howling said. “I’ll take one for the team.”
Tags: Beanie Wells, LaRod Stephens-Howling, Ottis Anderson, Ryan Williams
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