RSP Writers’ Project: 9.5 Seconds To Fall In Love

Jamaal Charles by Barry Lenard
Photo by Barry Lenard.
By Laurence (Laurie) Horesh, Host of ‘Hard Count’ NFL on FOX Sports Australia. Twitter: @LaurieHoresh

When thinking on the task presented by Matt – one person, one play – so much opens up to your sprawling imagination. There’s a whole library of excitement to choose from and throw your mind into.

And yet, with a tapestry woven by the likes of Staubach, Young and Favre, bringing moments of pressured genius to mind, what kept coming back was the start. The first time I fell for football was on a sleepy Sydney morning while avoiding a 20,000-word thesis.

The explosive intricacy of the game hit my eyes and I fell almost as fast as a runaway Jamaal Charles.

Week 1, 2010 – Chargers at Chiefs, Arrowhead Stadium


Down a touchdown with 47 seconds left in the first quarter, this play won’t live on in the history of title games and 4th quarter comebacks. But for a bleary-eyed university student, the poetic precision of what the Chiefs unleashed was enough to keep much-needed sleep at bay.

First and 10.

The snap from under center.

Lilja pulls from the right, Castille following suit, Bowe darts inside.

Hats on hats.

The ball tucked away, Charles hits the line of scrimmage with the canvas half-painted. An electrically fluid runner, the Chief provides a subtle outside-inside-outside move timed perfectly to Bowe’s block on Steve Gregory’s downhill push.

The Arrowhead crowd lifts, and as that sound reached my bedroom 9000 miles away in Australia, I couldn’t help but wonder how it spurred Charles as he broke through the second level and the end zone in sight with 52 and-a-half yards to go.

Courtesy of Kansas City’s two-pronged pull, the right-side corner and backer are nullified, with only Eric Weddle impeding the horizon.

“One man to beat.”

Flying over the left hash, Charles does something all the great runners I’d ever watched, no matter the sport, do in the open field. He set up his prey.

Just shy of the 40, he changes course to the right pylon and Weddle turns to keep pace.

Exactly 10 yards later, Charles plants and swerves back to the left and Weddle spins again like a confused dreidel.

The voices of Arrowhead rise to another level and I have the hazy memory of sitting up straighter, praying that my questionably-attained stream doesn’t give out.

He is gonna go, I think.

The commentary booth may have housed doubt but you have to believe as he blazed by what little depth the All-Pro safety had, that Charles knew this play had been over for more than 40 yards. Noise washed over the field and through my headphones as Charles strode into the end zone from a few continents away. It was the type of feverish cheer from a crowd that witnessed an ascendant star, promising to ignite more.

While I wasn’t a Kansas City fan, it was over those 56 yards that the intertwining elements of the game captured me. The overhead replay unveiling seven parts working for one, each causing a reaction designed to set up another, and another, all to open a gap in hope a young star will follow.

Not a play that will define careers or even seasons, but a blend of poetry on the line and green-grass exhilaration from Charles to make you fall in love, in nine-and-a-half seconds.

To read more from the RSP Writers Project, bookmark this page or follow the RSP blog to receive emails of the latest posts from this site.

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