World’s fastest human finds the end zone

World’s fastest human finds the end zone

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The rivalry between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins was starting to heat up in the mid-1960s. Perhaps Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2009 enshrinee Bob Hayes helped accelerate it.

Hayes made a huge splash onto the National Football League scene as a rookie in 1965. His world-class speed not only earned him two gold medals in track during the 1964 Olympic Games played in Tokyo, Japan but also a nickname, the “world’s fastest human.” His ability to combine that speed with adept moves quickly earned him respect from most NFL defensive backs.

In just his second regular season game, he gave the Redskins and the entire football world a glimpse of his incredible talent. He only touched the football twice in that game against Washington on September 26, 1965. However, both times he found the end zone. The first score came on a 45-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter. He then added his second touchdown of the day on an 11-yard run in the second. Dallas won easily 27-7.

When the division rivals met later in the season, the Redskins were ready and waiting. Washington essentially shut down the rookie receiver and return man to win 34-31. The Redskins were one of the few teams that controlled Hayes that year. He finished his first pro season by hauling in 46 passes for 1,003 yards and 12 TDs.

The following season the two clubs did not meet until November 13. But when they did, the Redskins defense apparently forgot just how lethal Hayes could be. The speedster helped Dallas gain a comfortable lead and may have energized the Redskins defense on a play that came very early in the second half.

Hayes was especially electric that day as he recorded the single finest game of his Hall of Fame career. He finished with a career-high 246 yards receiving on nine catches to become the first player that season with a 200-yard receiving game. Two long touchdown plays contributed to his yardage total.

Don Meredith hooked up with Hayes on a 52-yard touchdown play late in the second quarter to put Dallas ahead, 14-6. The Cowboys took that lead into halftime.

After Washington stalled on three plays to open the second half, Hayes fielded a punt but was dropped for a loss. A clipping penalty further moved Dallas back and forced Hayes and the Cowboys offense to start the drive from its own five-yard-line. One play is all it took for Hayes to find the end zone. Meredith aired it out and Hayes quickly outdistanced the nearest Redskins defender, hauled in the pass, and was gone for a 95-yard touchdown and a 21-6 Dallas lead.

“I was supposed to go down and turn back,” Hayes commented about his 95-yarder. “When I got past the line neither of the two defenders closed on me and there was a path in between. I just kept on going and hoped Don would read me.”

Washington was flagged for a person foul on the play that Dallas obviously declined. But Hayes’s long score seem to spark the Redskins. The teams engaged in a see-saw battle the rest of way that included two fine touchdown catches by Washington Hall of Fame receiver Charley Taylor. Dallas hung on to win, 31-30.

For Hayes, it not only marked his finest game as a pro but established a Cowboys record for receiving yards in a game. The 95-yard touchdown play also was a club record. Both marks still stand today, more than three decades later.

Hayes’ performance was just one of many more that followed during his career. He built a reputation for scoring long touchdowns. In fact, 19 of his 71 career touchdown receptions were 50 yards or longer. He also had an 86-yard touchdown catch in a 1967 playoff game against the Cleveland Browns.

Hayes’s 50-yard TDs

Date Opponent Yds.
Oct. 10, 1965 Philadelphia Eagles 82
Dec. 19, 1965 New York Giants 65
Sept. 18, 1966 New York Giants 74
Nov. 13, 1966 Washington Redskins 52
Nov. 13, 1966 Washington Redskins 95
Oct. 22, 1967 Pittsburgh Steelers 55
Oct. 29, 1967 Philadelphia Eagles 64
Nov. 23, 1967 St. Louis Cardinals 59
Dec. 24, 1967* Cleveland Browns 86
Sept. 15, 1968 Detroit Lions 50
Nov. 3, 1968 New Orleans Saints 54
Dec. 8, 1968 Pittsburgh Steelers 53
Oct. 19, 1969 Philadelphia Eagles 67
Sept. 27, 1970 New York Giants 58
Oct. 25, 1970 Kansas City Chiefs 89
Nov. 8, 1970 New York Giants 80
Dec. 20, 1970 Houston Oilers 59
Sept. 19, 1970 Buffalo Bills 76
Nov. 25, 1971 Los Angeles Rams 51
Dec. 12, 1971 New York Giants 85
*Postseason game

Source: Elias Sports Bureau

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