|Running back Chris Johnson is joining historical company in only his second NFL season.|
Johnson already has put his name alongside the likes of Jim Brown, Earl Campbell and Eric Dickerson by running for at least 125 yards each of the past five games - only the eighth player in NFL history to reach that feat.
Now he's got a chance to top Barry Sanders for the best November in the NFL since the 1970 merger with the AFL.
Sanders ran for 701 yards in five games during November 1997, and Johnson is 55 yards back playing his fifth game this month Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. He said it feels good to hear his name mentioned with those running backs.
"It makes you just want to keep working hard and breaking their records basically. If you're being mentioned with those guys, you're doing the right things," Johnson said.
The NFL's leading rusher with 1,242 yards has been running wild on his current streak. He can become only the third player in NFL history to run for 125 yards or more in six consecutive games Sunday, joining Dickerson (1984) and Campbell, who played for the same franchise when it was based in Houston in 1980.
Johnson has been even hotter during November in helping the Titans (4-6) win four straight.
He set a franchise-record with 228 yards Nov. 1 against Jacksonville, added 135 yards at San Francisco, 132 against Buffalo and reached 151 yards in Monday night's 20-17 win at Houston.
That's 646 yards on 104 carries with six touchdowns. Sanders needed 100 carries for his 701 yards for Detroit in 1997.
Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt defended Adrian Peterson last year and thought he was pretty good. He considers Frank Gore of San Francisco a good back, too.
"Wow, there is not a lot that are comparable to the way he is playing right now. He is at a high level," Whisenhunt said. "There are a number of good backs, but Chris Johnson is really a threat and is really playing well for them."
Johnson's speed measured at 4.24 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the 2008 NFL Combine is what makes him dangerous. The five-foot-11, 200-pounder also is showing he can pound away. He has more carries in each of the past four games.
"We're just in a situation right now he's much more comfortable, and we feel every time he touches the ball he's got a chance to go," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "So you might as well take advantage of it. There's no sign of wear and tear."
Arizona (7-3) brings in a defense ranked eighth in the NFL, giving up 103.2 yards per game. The Cardinals did give up 158 yards to Carolina's DeAngelo Williams on Nov. 1, and are in a stretch where Steven Jackson ran for 116 yards against them last week with Peterson up next after Johnson.
Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said they know well that Johnson is unique.
"He can take a run, a five-yard run, a five-yard gain or a six-yard gain, and all of a sudden it's 60 down the sideline. We've got to be clicking on all cylinders," he said. "It's going to be a big challenge, especially for the defence to play against the No. 1 rushing team on the road."
"And you know they're going to run the ball 30-40 times a game. You've got to have you're mind right, you know what I'm saying, and we look forward to the challenge"
The difference now is Vince Young, whose dual threat to throw or run makes Johnson even more potent. The Titans have been using the option some since Young returned as the starter, and he ran for a season-high 73 yards against the Texans. Johnson said having Young in the backfield has helped slow up defenders who can't make up their minds who to stop.
"When he rolls out there, just seeing the dude's eyes, he really don't know what to do. He don't know if he wants to run at Vince or run at me," Johnson said. "When we ran it last week, the first play he ran to Vince, then I got the pitch. The second play he just didn't know what to do. Vince kept it and went up the middle and almost scored."
Fisher watched Eddie George post five straight 100-yard rushing games for this franchise in 1998. Gauging how good Johnson might be? Fisher wants to wait on that.
"It's way too soon to talk about comparisons to those great players who've come and gone," Fisher said. "He's off to a great start. His production speaks for itself."
Right now, that's more than enough.