Tuesday Night Football

R.I.P. Josh Norman

Jim Rome
October 14, 2020 - 9:20 am
Derrick Henry and Josh Norman

USA Today


Last night’s Bills-Titans game can be summed up in one play, even if it was a play that never actually happened. Offsetting penalties might have wiped the play from the score sheet, but it’s not erasing it from our collective mental hard drive. Because you see something like this, and you can’t UNSEE if it. Even if it didn’t go into the books as an official play. It didn’t have to. You snatch someone’s soul like that, and it’s never forgotten, whether it counted in the game or not. Because that bleep counts in LIFE. 

And in terms of summing up the game itself, I don’t even need the whole play. It can be summed up in one image. And that image is Derrick Henry abusing Josh Norman. It’s the photo that Derrick Henry posted on Instagram after the game with Norman in the air, horizontal, like he’s lying on a couch, after Henry destroyed him.

Was that photoshopped? Because there’s no way that someone can do that to a man who is 6 feet tall and weighs 200 pounds. But then you see the actual play itself, and you become a believer.

Again….That isn’t just a stiff-arm, that’s a soul-destruction. As Ryan Tannehill said: “I screamed, ‘Holy crap.’ That was unbelievable just to see how he tossed that guy. That was probably one of the meanest stiff-arms I’ve ever seen, no doubt."

Or as Henry said: “I’ve been doing too many curls, so I gotta lay off the arms.” You do need to lay off the arms, D. Not for you, but for everyone else.

That stiff-arm is filthy and it immediately launched a thousand memes. You can take that still image of Norman getting shoved into the center of the Earth and attach anything you want to it.

Norman is your diet and Henry is you finishing off a cake at 11pm

Norman is your plan to only have one beer and Henry is you heading to the fridge for number six

Norman is your plan to go to bed early and Henry is Netflix starting the next episode of the series you’re binging

If you don’t know by now, and I don’t know why you wouldn’t, but here is a simple fact: you cannot go high on Derrick Henry. You have to go low. If you go high on him, he will humiliate and meme the hell out of you. Go low and you have a chance of getting him down and maintaining your pride and dignity

The question is: have you ever seen a better stiff arm than that? And that is an impossible question because Henry himself has given us so many.

There was the one against Earl Thomas just a few months ago

There were the two stiff-arms on his 99-yard TD run against Jacksonville in 2018.


And in the non-Henry category, there is the nastiness that Steeler Vance McDonald perpetrated against Tampa Bay two years ago.

That was filthy as well. Not just the stiff-arm, but the fact that McDonald stepped over what was left of the body of the defender and just kept on running. I’m not here to tell you which stiff-arm was the best and I’m sure as hell not going to do a poll where you call in or tweet your responses, but there is no debate that the stiff-arm is the best move in football and maybe the best move in sports. I’d even argue it might be the best move in all of life. You can have your jukes, your spins, and your hurdles, I’m taking the stiff-arm all day, every day.

I could do an entire segment talking about that stiff-arm. I could a whole show talking about it and I’m guessing that Bills fans would be happy about that because it would mean that I wasn’t talking about their team and their implosion last night.

But I can’t do that. Bills Mafia, we have to talk about what happened last night. Or more specifically, what didn’t happen. And what you are, or better yet, what we thought you are, and what you’re not.

I thought everything had changed. That this was the year. Not only the year that you finally ripped the AFC East from the pats, and not only made the playoffs and won there, but the year you made a deep run; a year where you were a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Where the hell were those guys last night? Who the hell were those guys last night? Because those guys looked like the New York jets rolled in, threw on Bills jerseys and then got worked. The point has already been made a billion times, but if you watched that game, you would not know which team had been locked out of their facility.

The final score was 42-16 and it didn’t even feel that close. That wasn’t a loss that was a humbling. A nationally televised humiliation

And yes, I know that Buffalo was missing some key starters and it was completely jacked up that they had to wait in limbo to find out of this game was going to be played, but did you know that the Titans had one official practice since September 27th?  One. 

For all the talk about Henry’s stiff arm, he only had 57 yards rushing on the night and averaged three yards a carry. It was Ryan Tannehill dishing out the real punishment to the Bills with three touchdown passes and one rushing.

And Buffalo had no answer for Tannehill and AJ Brown, who had seven receptions, for 82 yards, and a touchdown.

And no answer for Jonnu Smith.

My guy likes to say the weight room is free, and so were the touchdowns. But it wasn’t just about what the Bills’ defense couldn’t do, it was about what they did do – commit a bunch of penalties. And what the offense did as well – turn the ball over.

10 penalties. Three turnovers. They picked a really bad time, to have a really bad night.  And bills coach Sean McDermott knows it: “It was an uncharacteristic game for us, uncharacteristically poor fundamentals, poor pre-snap discipline, turning the ball over. You can’t do that. There’s only one opponent, and that opponent’s on the other side. You can’t beat yourself, and I give them credit. They were ready to go, and at the same time we beat ourselves.”

Josh Allen has played at an MVP level through the first four games of the season and then smashed back to earth last night. As he said: "We got punched in the mouth and didn't respond like we should have ... I didn't play well enough for our team to win tonight."

Yes and yes. That is completely true. They got bullied by a bigger bully. Last night, it was Tennessee, not Buffalo who looked crisp and sharp. It was Tennessee, not Buffalo who looked like a Super Bowl contender. And it was Ryan Tannehill, not Josh Allen, who looked like he was about to dominate the division, Tom Brady-style, for a while. 

Buffalo couldn’t get much of a pass rush going, hell they couldn’t get much of anything going. The good news is they have a short week to get that disgusting taste out of their mouth. The bad news is that short week ends with Kansas City on Sunday. And if they show up Sunday the way they showed up last night that is going to be even more humiliating.  They were looking to make a statement and send a message last night.  And unfortunately, they did: message being, same as they ever were; still not ready for prime time.  They better hope that was just one bad night because that was one gigantic step backwards.