Posted Sat Sep 26th by Monty
Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ryan Clady is on the cusp of NFL history. Currently riding the league’s longest consecutive game streak without allowing a full sack (18 games), Clady has a once-and-only opportunity to rewrite the NFL record books at his position and become immortalized in league annals.
If Clady can continue his sackless streak this week, he will be tied for the most consecutive games without giving up a sack to start an NFL career.
Another sackless effort in Week Four, and Clady will stand alone.
Like any good hero story, though, Clady’s has a villain. In order to finish the deed, the fleet-footed 325-pounder will have to prove his mettle this week against the one man who managed to tally a single statistic of significance against him in his career, a half-sack registered as a New England Patriot last year: Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Richard Seymour.
Seymour’s half-sack took place on October 20, 2008, as the Broncos traveled to Foxboro to face Seymour’s Pats. Then playing primarily in a 3-4 front, Seymour was able to get past both Clady and left guard Ben Hamilton coming from right end. The Broncos were embarassed in a 41-7 loss, and Clady’s perfect start was tarnished.
Now playing in the 4-3 after being traded to Oakland, Seymour has led a defensive line that has revitalized Oakland’s image and elevated them back into the status of, if not a good football team, then a competitive one. Playing at both tackle and end, Seymour tallied two sacks in the team’s opener against San Diego. His follow-up to that performance was another solid outing, this time in Kansas City, where he repeatedly demanded double-teams from Chiefs offensive linemen and allowed teammate Greg Ellis to tally two sacks of his own.
In other words, he and his teammates are playing some excellent football. The stage is set for a clash of 300-lb. titans. Seymour will line up early and often against Clady at right defensive end.
Will Clady find redemption this week for the lone blemish of his young career? The margin for error is extremely slim in the NFL — can he overcome this latest obstacle in his pursuit of the NFL record books?
Perhaps the significance of such an achievement isn’t clear at first, but it’s symbolic of a player’s complete domination and control at their position. It’s analogous to a rookie quarterback starting as many games without throwing an interception, or a defensive lineman registering a sack in at least as many games.
Perhaps those comparisons are aggrandizing, but by what other metric should we compare Clady’s near-record-setting start? Even if one is found, it doesn’t change the fact that, from the moment he entered the league in 2008, Clady has completely dominated beyond anyone’s realistic expectations, and shown to be a master at his craft.
If he can continue his mastery this week and next, the start to his career will be undeniably the greatest at his position in NFL history. Who knows where Clady takes it from there.