Special to GamingToday
San Diego Chargers +10½ at Denver Broncos (56½)
Thursday, Dec. 11, 5:25 pm PT (NFL Network)
Only seven NFL rookies have ever achieved the 1,000-yard receiving plateau. The first was San Diego’s John Jefferson in 1978; the most recent was Marques Colston for New Orleans in 2006.
It’s one explanation why wide receivers are not typically expected to make heavy contributions to an NFL offense in their first year. That’s also why the performance of Chargers wideout Keenan Allen quickly catapulted the third-round draft pick out of California to the top of the list of candidates for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.
Playing in front of a New York television audience – yes, there is such thing as East Coast bias – Allen gained several additional voting points after collecting a pair of touchdown passes Sunday, lifting the Chargers to an easy 37-14 thumping of the New York Giants at Qualcomm Stadium.
Allen registered his impression in the first half when he collected both of his scores among his three receptions; when the Bolts raced to a 24-0 halftime advantage, going on to eliminate the Giants (5-8) from playoff consideration.
“I think we got on top of these guys pretty early and we put them out of their misery,” said Allen. “They didn’t really want to play anymore.”
Meanwhile, San Diego (6-7) remained in the postseason hunt, although miraculous, final-minute victories by Baltimore and Miami hurt the Chargers’ chances in the AFC.
Allen is enjoying the fruits of the new Ken Whisenhunt-installed offense. He first collected a 43-yard Philip Rivers pass to open the scoring, and then scored from four yards out to stretch the cushion to 17-0.
Allen now has 61 catches for the season, breaking LaDainian Tomlinson’s team rookie record of 59 in 2001.
“I thought I was just going to come in and be a role guy and do whatever I could to be a part of the team,” Allen said. “If it was waiting the whole year behind those guys, I was going to have to do that.”
Note to fantasy owners: Allen is at 902 receiving yards, needing just 98 over the final three games to reach the magical 1,000 milestone.
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