The voice on the other end of the phone belonged to Wesley Walker, who scored a walk-off touchdown in the wildest game in New York Jets history. On Sept. 21, 1986, before pass-oriented offenses and fantasy football were the rage, the Jets and Miami Dolphins defied the era with a futuristic display of offense.
It was Jets 51, Dolphins 45, in overtime. Ken O’Brien and Dan Marino passed for a combined 884 yards, an NFL record that stood until 2011. The teams racked up 1,066 total yards between them, still a single-game record for a Jets game. It was such a back-and-forth contest — we’re talking 13 touchdowns — that Fred Smith, a member of the Jets’ stats crew, went through four pencils instead of the usual two.
“My office is on the left side. Hours are 1 to 4. You can make an appointment. Check in and I will see about you,” Norman told ESPN’s Ed Werder prior to Sunday’s 27-23 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Either way, it might not matter. Beckham has done damage throughout his career against some of the game’s best cornerbacks. He had eight catches for 156 yards against Vontae Davis and the Colts and seven catches for 108 yards against Richard Sherman and the Seahawks during his rookie season. Granted, not all of those yards and catches came against Davis and Sherman, but some of them did.
“You’re the real deal,” Sherman told Beckham after that 2014 matchup.
Beckham also had over 100 yards receiving last season against Darrelle Revis and the Jets, Malcolm Butler and the Patriots and Delvin Breaux and the Saints. He scored a long touchdown in each of those games.
Beckham’s stat line (mostly vs. Norman) could’ve been: Nine catches, 175 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Or greater.
Then, after three quarters in the second game, they did what they said they didn’t want to do in the opener and moved Norman around. It worked, too: In zone coverage, he held Dez Bryant to no catches in the fourth quarter. Bryant’s lone reception in the final 15 minutes came against someone else.
What this means for Sunday’s game against the New York Giants and receiver Odell Beckham? It’s anyone’s guess. The Redskins have shown they’ll use different strategies — and Norman has shown he can be effective when being moved around. The misnomer is that you move around to play man; that’s not the case.
Last season, in the infamous December game against Beckham, Norman — then with the Panthers — split time playing both the left and right side (for zone too). It wasn’t just to defend Beckham, though, as he wasn’t always aligned to the same side. But it certainly made it tougher for the Giants to know where Norman might be and, therefore, to adapt their receiver alignments.
When Norman wasn’t on Beckham — the Giants will sometimes align him as the inside man in a three-receiver set — Carolina still handled its business. They’d use a linebacker to drop to his area with safety help over the top. Sometimes, quarterback Eli Manning would look in Beckham’s direction, see Norman’s coverage and the safety alignment, and throw elsewhere. They did have success, getting Beckham free on a deep ball with an inside release by occupying the safety’s attention (Beckham dropped it). And Beckham won with a double move to tie the game in the fourth quarter.