Sheldon Richardson could very well win this season's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award, but don't let that "defensive" label fool you into thinking that's all he's good for. This kid can do it all.
"At the beginning of the season I told the coaches I wanted to do anything to help this team win," Richardson said following Sunday's 30-20 loss at Carolina.
We trailed, 16-6, in the third quarter when a pass interference penalty on CB Melvin White set us up with first-and-goal from the 2.
That's when head coach Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg took the rookie up on his offer.
Richardson was inserted into the game at fullback, took the handoff from QB Geno Smith and powered his way up the middle from the 2-yard line to the 2-inch line before the officials blew the play dead and placed the ball short of the goal line.
"We've been working on it [in practice] and just thinking that they shouldn't be able to deny that guy down there," Ryan said. "We thought we scored the first time, but it was a little short. I was like, 'Eh, let's run it again,' so that's what we did."
And on his second career carry, also a fullback run up the gut, No. 91 crossed the plane and put six points on the board.
"Sheldon's a tough guy, man, very athletic," Smith said. "I can't say enough about him. The way he competes just amazes me.
"I congratulated him on the sideline. I'm glad we got it in there. He's been talking about it all year."
Though tonight marked rushes Nos. 1 and 2 for Richardson's NFL career, (the last time he carried the ball was in high school), we've now used him in short-yardage situations in three games this season. He was in on RB Chris Ivory's fourth-and-goal 1-yard touchdown run in Week 11 at Buffalo, and he made his offensive debut in primetime in Week 5 at Atlanta.
Richardson described his scoring play as "very cool," but his focus remains on the Jets playoff push which, at least for another 24 hours, is still possible. We need to win our final two games and the Baltimore Ravens must lose their remaining three games (they play Monday night at Detroit) among other things.
"We can't control it. We've just got to win out," he said. "Just keep fighting till the fat lady sings."
"I know one thing," Ryan said. "We'll compete and we'll give our best shot these next two weeks. That much I know for sure."