Don’t let the driver’s license fool you. Chris Johnson may be 30 years old, but if this season is any indication, he’s got the legs of a 24-year-old.
Johnson led the Arizona Cardinals to a 26-18 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football, rushing 18 times for 122 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and a touchdown. Eight-eight of those yards came on just two carries. The first was a beautiful 26-yard, broken-tackle touchdown run that gave Arizona a 7-3 lead in the first quarter, and the second was a 62-yard burst in the third quarter that came after Johnson appeared to have been tackled after a modest gain.
“It was a situation where I came through the hole and somebody kind of tackled me from the back, but I felt like my butt wasn’t on the ground,” Johnson explained on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “I felt like it was on somebody. As they let me go, I never heard a whistle, so I just kept running.”
It all amounted to another win for the Cardinals (5-2), who have allowed just 13 points per game in their five wins this season. The game appeared to be well in hand, with Arizona leading 26-10 with less than five minutes to go, but the Ravens mounted a comeback and almost had a chance to tie the game.
“Anytime you’re playing a team like Baltimore, the game is never over,” Johnson said. “They got a gunslinger over there. He gets balls down the field and they got playmakers over there. Anytime you’re playing a team like that, you just got to finish all the way to the end. We gave up a couple plays. We just got to finish better at the end.”
Carson Palmer was a steady 20-of-29 for 275 yards and two touchdowns. He spread the wealth throughout the night, as five Cardinals with at least three catches, and three – John Brown, Jermaine Gresham and Michael Floyd – finished with between 59 and 65 receiving yards.
Johnson, however, stole the show – again. He leads the team with 567 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns and is averaging 5.1 yards per carry. Johnson credited others for his success, mainly head coach Bruce Arians.
“I feel like he’s the best coach I’ve ever played for thus far,” Johnson said. “He’s a great guy. He’s offensive-minded. He knows how to get his players in position to make plays.”
That’s a stark contrast to Johnson’s 2014 season with the Jets. A perennial 1,000-yard rusher, Johnson received just 155 carries last season. He was on pace for 1,000 yards early on, but the Jets shied away from him as the season progressed.
“I feel like they didn’t use me right,” Johnson said. “I just didn’t get the opportunities.”
Johnson finished with 663 rushing yards in 16 games last season. He could surpass that in just eight games with Arizona, should he rush for 97 yards against Cleveland on Nov. 1.
Either way, Johnson isn’t looking back.
“It’s a situation where it didn’t work out in New York,” Johnson said. “I thank them for giving me an opportunity, but I guess that helped me get to where I am today, and that’s over there with he Arizona Cardinals. I thank them for that.”