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On Saturday, we looked at the top passing performers against each franchise. Yesterday, we did the same thing but with rushing statistics. Today, we revive a post from two years ago and complete the series with a look at the top receiving producers against each franchise (all data beginning in 1960).

Let’s begin with receptions. In the past two seasons, Jason Witten has emerged as the number one franchise nemesis for both Washington and New York, eliminating Art Monk and Michael Irvin, respectively, from the tops of those record books. Witten was already the top guy against the Eagles, making him the career leader in receptions against each of the Cowboys three NFC East rivals.

Other non-surprising news: Jerry Rice is the top man against the Falcons, Saints, and Rams, with his numbers against Atlanta being particularly mind-blowing. Tim Brown is number one against his old AFC West teams, and was also number one against the Seahawks until Larry Fitzgerald just passed him. Andre Reed takes the top spot against the Dolphins/Colts/Jets (Marvin Harrison is #1 against the Patriots), Hines Ward has more catches than anyone against the Browns/Bengals/Ravens, while Cris Carter is number one against all four of his old NFC Norris rivals.

Perhaps the toughest ones to guess: who took the top spot against Dallas, with Arizona and Minnesota also being relatively hard ones, I think.

ATLJerry Rice17830
STLJerry Rice17233
KANTim Brown15227
NORJerry Rice14729
DENTim Brown14630
CHICris Carter14626
JAXReggie Wayne14525
CLEHines Ward13726
PHIJason Witten13724
MIAAndre Reed13429
SDGTim Brown13332
CINHines Ward13328
HOUReggie Wayne13224
SFOIsaac Bruce12825
INDAndre Reed12828
NYGJason Witten12624
TENAndre Johnson12321
NWEMarvin Harrison11820
BALHines Ward11728
SEALarry Fitzgerald11621
ARIArt Monk11527
OAKTony Gonzalez11423
TAMCris Carter11425
CARRoddy White11019
DETCris Carter11023
NYJAndre Reed11029
WASJason Witten10822
GNBCris Carter10821
PITDerrick Mason10824
BUFWes Welker10517
DALCharley Taylor10223
MINDonald Driver9923

What if we look at receiving yards instead of receptions? Eleven names change at the top of the list. Jimmy Smith takes the top spot against the Ravens, which is incredible. We all know that I think Smith is a HOFer, but consider that he gained more yards against Baltimore in 15 games1 than Hines Ward did in 29!2

Don Maynard, one of the greatest receivers in pre-merger history, gained more yards than anyone against the Bills and Patriots, replacing Wes Welker and Marvin Harrison (who led in catches against those teams), respectively. Carroll Dale, Randy Moss, and Steve Smith all bump Cris Carter out of the top spot when it comes to receiving yards against the Lions, Packers, and Bucs. Art Monk and Roy Green have not (yet?) been passed by Witten when it comes to yards against New York and Washington, and the same goes for Tim Brown and Fitzgerald with respect to the Seahawks. Stanley Morgan is number one in receiving yards against the Jets, not Reed. And finally, Reggie Wayne gained more yards against the Titans, but Andre Johnson had more catches. Johnson has 123/1,489/10 in 22 games against the Titans, Wayne has 112/1,573/10 in 24 games. Trivia: neither is number one against them in receiving touchdowns, though, so take a moment and see if you can guess that one.

Oh, and yes, I owe you a dollar if you knew that Dale or Green were coming up in today’s post.

OppPlayerRec YdG
ATLJerry Rice279430
STLJerry Rice260633
KANTim Brown206627
JAXReggie Wayne202825
NORJerry Rice202529
MIAAndre Reed193829
SFOIsaac Bruce192525
DENTim Brown191230
BUFDon Maynard179524
INDAndre Reed171828
SDGTim Brown171132
NWEDon Maynard170923
SEATim Brown168628
DETCarroll Dale168125
NYJStanley Morgan165326
CHICris Carter164826
HOUReggie Wayne163624
ARIArt Monk161027
DALCharley Taylor160923
CINHines Ward159828
CLEHines Ward159426
TENReggie Wayne157324
BALJimmy Smith152215
PHIJason Witten152024
OAKTony Gonzalez151523
TAMSteve Smith151422
NYGArt Monk143927
WASRoy Green143721
GNBRandy Moss141517
CARRoddy White139619
MINDonald Driver137423
PITDerrick Mason130224

Finally, let’s look at receiving touchdowns. Let’s start by taking a minute to recognize that Jerry Rice had more receptions against the Falcons than any player has ever had against any team. And Rice had more receiving yards versus Atlanta than any player has ever had against a single franchise. Well, Rice also had 26 touchdowns through the air against the Falcons! How insane is it to have 26 touchdowns against one team? Well, Rice had 20 touchdowns against the Rams, but no other player has caught 20 touchdowns against a single team.

Here’s the full list. As before, ties are broken by yards. Oh, and please note my comment on Don Hutson.

OppPlayerRec TDG
ATLJerry Rice2630
STLJerry Rice2033
NYGBob Hayes1916
MIAWesley Walker1719
DENArt Powell1714
INDAndre Reed1628
SDGSteve Largent1621
NYJIrving Fryar1622
CINHines Ward1628
GNBRandy Moss1617
KANAntonio Gates1520
DALCharley Taylor1523
MINJerry Rice1515
NORJerry Rice1429
BUFDon Maynard1424
NWEDon Maynard1423
SEATim Brown1428
ARIArt Monk1427
TENDon Maynard1418
PHICharley Taylor1420
SFOAndre Rison1314
WASRoy Green1321
PITGary Collins1314
DETCarroll Dale1225
HOUReggie Wayne1224
CLEIsaac Curtis1222
OAKDon Maynard1215
TAMSterling Sharpe1214
CHICris Carter1026
BALJimmy Smith1015
CARRoddy White1019
JAXMarvin Harrison913

Nearly half of the list turns over when we move from receiving yards to receiving touchdowns. Your new leaders: Isaac Curtis (!) against the Browns, Art Powell (!!) against the Broncos, Marvin Harrison vs. the Jaguars, Antonio Gates vs. the Chiefs, Wesley Walker against the Dolphins, Rice (!) against the Vikings, Bob Hayes vs. the Giants, Irving Fryar against the Jets, Don Maynard vs. the Raiders, Charley Taylor vs. the Eagles, Gary Collins (!) vs. the Steelers, Steve Largent (finally!) vs. the Chargers, Andre Rison (?) vs. the 49ers, Sterling Sharpe (!) against the Bucs, and Don Maynard against the Oilers/Titans franchise.

Rice has the most touchdowns against 4 franchises, which is only not surprising because, Rice. But Maynard also is the number one nemesis for four different franchises when it comes to this statistic, too. That’s pretty amazing for a player who retired in 1972.3

Collins played with the Browns in the sixties; he has 13 touchdowns against Pittsburgh, and Ernest Givins and Joe Morrison are the only other player with double digit touchdowns against the Steelers (each has ten).

Rice has FIFTEEN touchdowns against the Vikings in fifteen games; Greg Jennings has ten and is number two on the list.

The 49ers are always a weird one on these lists — take a look at how their top nemeses over the past couple of days — but Rison is another shocker. He had 10 touchdowns against Atlanta with the Falcons, 2 when he was with the Chiefs, and one in a playoff game with Green Bay. Fitzgerald, with 12 TDs, is one away from tying him.

Fryar had 16 touchdowns in 25 games against the Jets. Most of those came with him as a Patriots, but he had 2-TD games against New York as a Patriot, Dolphin, and Eagle.

Powell had 17 touchdowns against the Broncos in just 14 games; that’s absurd, particularly compared to how his fellow Raiders — Fred Biletnikoff (15 in 26) and Tim Brown (14 in 32) — did against Denver. Those three are the only players with 14+ receiving touchdowns against the Broncos. Powell “only” had 10 of his touchdowns against the Broncos come with the Raiders; he also excelled with the Titans in the early days of the AFL, including a 3-TD game in December 1960. Powell also had 14 touchdowns against the Oilers, tying him with Maynard for most against that franchise.

Finally, the Bucs list is pretty interesting. Sharpe had 12 TDs in 14 games against the Bucs; he was nearly displaced by Rice, who had 11 in 10 against Tampa Bay. Carter 10 in 25 games, while Randy Moss had 7 in 10. Oh, and Rison had 7 TDs in 7 games against Tampa Bay. With Marques Colston‘s career winding down and Steve Smith in Baltimore, Sharpe’s record looks safe for the medium term (i.e., let’s see how long Julio Jones stays in Atlanta).

  1. Aided, of course, by his scorched earth performance against the 2000 Ravens. []
  2. Another note: The games column in these tables does not include games where a player did not record a statistic. So Ward is listed in the first table as playing 28 games against Baltimore, but there was another game where he was held without a catch. []
  3. Although Namath is tied for number one when it comes to the Titans, Patriots, and Raiders, but won all three tiebreakers based on receiving yards. []
  • Andropov

    I’m guessing you didn’t intend to have half of the article in italics. Aside from that, another good article. These results are, as the previous ones were, very interesting. I would have thought the lists would lean a bit more heavily towards the recent past than they do for receiving.

  • sacramento gold miners

    Two factors hurt the case for Jimmy Smith. First, he didn’t have a breakout season until age 27, which means other HOF bound receivers were making meaningful contributions earlier in their respective careers. Second, anytime a borderline candidate has a drug problem, that’s an issue. Unlike LT and Michael Irvin, Smith never even reached a Super Bowl. The Jags had a golden opportunity in the 1997 AFC TG, but Smith had just 3 catches the entire game. After upsetting top seeded Denver the week earlier, it was a disappointing performance.

    • Andropov

      Not to mention that, although he’s 22nd in career receptions and 20th in career receiving yardage, he’s only 43rd in career receiving touchdowns. In fact, Smith never posted double digit receiving touchdowns in a regular season. I still think he has a clearly HoF caliber career. It’s just been rather difficult lately for any WR to get in, regardless of skill.

      • Clint

        Except somehow Andre Reed got him. Insane to me. Compare him with Jimmy Smith who may never get in, along with Torry Holt who has a 50/50 chance. Pretty much any receiver in the HOF is better than Reed. Henry Ellard and Irving Fryar were pretty much just as good and neither ever will (or should be) considered.
        Sorry, just saw a window to vent some of my frustration about this and broke through it. Haha

        • sacramento gold miners

          Forgot to mention earlier, Jimmy Smith had a likely drug related end to his career, which is worse than playing with declining skills. Had a strong age 36 season with 70 catches, but instead of taking another drug test, abruptly retired. In retirement, Smith would get into drug-related trouble again, so it raises suspicions about why he retired in the first place.

          Regarding Andre Reed, it’s just more difficult to catch the football in cold weather, and when you look at the all time list of receivers, the vast majority didn’t play in those conditions for the majority of their careers. It’s actually rare to have a HOF career under those circumstances, so I give receivers like Andre Reed added value. If we put Reed with Manning and the Colts, I think his numbers improve, playing those home games in perfect conditions for receiving. Conversely, I don’t see Marvin Harrison duplicating his Indy numbers in Buffalo.

          Cold weather QBs have options wide receivers don’t possess, they can throw more to their backs and tight ends, or hand off to help win games in bad conditions.

          • Clint

            Irving Fryar played in the cold, too. Haha (Just love mentioning him for amusement)

            Marvin Harrison had 5.8 receptions per game at home and away. He just scored more tds at home. Also, his numbers drastically increased in December. Reggie Wayne is similar, except he seems to get worse as the season goes, which is interesting. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/W/WaynRe00/splits//

            Not being able to catch the ball is usually an assumption that goes along with cold weather. If you’re used to it, you’re fine. There’s only a problem when you’re not used to it, like the Chargers in the AFC Championship with Fouts. Ozzie Newsome played in Cleveland. Tony Gonzalez played in KC (believe it or not, with the wind the midwest feels even colder in the winter). Everyone has had games in cold weather. TO didn’t have a problem catching the ball in Philly. Randy Moss and Wes Welker had no problems in New England. Being used to it is all that’s necessary. At some point in his 57 year career, Andre Reed was probably used to it.

            • sacramento gold miners

              Irving Fryar was terrific, but there’s still a minority of receivers who are in the upper tier, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. Not only is the act of catching the ball more difficult, but so is holding on after getting hit, and running patterns is more of a challenge as well. Fryar and Welker aren’t quite HOF caliber receivers, and being a tight end can be helpful in cold weather. I always thought Moss did most of his damage in the Metrodome.

              • Clint

                Randy Moss and Wes Welker had some of their best years in New England, with their stats not decreasing in any way because of cold weather. There are an endless amount of receivers who played in the cold and had great careers. You could run through each team and find receivers who were really good in warm or cold weather. I just listed a few who popped into my head.

                Although he played for Oakland, Tim Brown is another guy who seemed mostly unaffected by the weather. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/B/BrowTi00/splits//
                It does make a difference, but mostly it’s only in extreme conditions and if the receiver is just not used to it.

                • sacramento gold miners

                  You’re correct, many receivers have enjoyed excellent careers in cold weather, but the shorter list of HOF receivers is overwhelmingly filled with players who excelled in warmer weather. I wouldn’t say it’s a huge factor, but something we should consider when evaluating receivers.

                  • Richie

                    I would be interested to see the rate at which the cold/warm weather receivers make the HOF. My instinct is to say that there are fewer teams that play their games in cold weather. And, many of the teams that play in cold weather were built around run-first offenses until more recent years.

                    Also, “cold weather” is a bit nebulous and even cold weather teams don’t play that many games in cold weather. In the last 10 years (2,560 regular season games), there have been 105 (4%) played under 30 degrees. Only 54 games (2%) under 25 degrees. (assuming the PFR temperature data is accurate)

    • Richie

      I don’t know about “disappointing.” That was the 1996 season, which was Jacksonville’s second in the league. The upset over Denver was a shocker. They also beat Buffalo as 8.5 point dogs. They were 7.5 point dogs at New England. By that point they were playing with house money.

      No, the disappointing season was 1999. That was the year they ran Dan Marino out of the league and skunked the Dolphins 62-7 in the divisional round. Then they blew a 14-7 second quarter lead against Tennessee in the championship game, and lose at home as 7 point favorites. Jacksonville finished the season 15-3, with all 3 losses coming against the Titans.

  • Here’s something even more impressive (to me) about Jerry Rice:

    If you convert his numbers against the Falcons to per-season averages, you get 95 catches for 1490 yards and 14 touchdowns. Those numbers would each rank as Rice’s sixth best season in each column. If you use 4.5*rec + yds + 20*TD for ACY, his converted Atlanta numbers would also rank as only his sixth best season. SIXTH!

  • I should have noted that all of the above data is only for the period beginning in 1960.

    Well, we don’t have individual game logs before then, but we do have scoring logs. The man person worth investigating, of course, is Don Hutson.

    Well, Hutson had 18 TDs against the Rams, which means Rice actually eclipsed him.

    He had 17 TDs versus the Cardinals, so he should replace Monk in that chart.

    He had 16 TDs against the Lions, moving Dale out of the record books.

    And he had 15 TDs vs. the Bears, moving Cris Carter out of the top spot.

    So, brain fart on my end. Hutson should be the record holder for those three teams. Which is pretty cool.

  • Richie

    “The 49ers are always a weird one on these lists — take a look at how
    their top nemeses over the past couple of days — but Rison is another

    In that game in 1990 when Jerry Rice went for 225 and 5 TD’s against the Falcons, Andre Rison had a big game of his own with 172 yards and 2 TD’s.

    Crazy to think you can go for 172 and 2 and not even be close to the best receiving performance in the game.

    • sacramento gold miners

      Rison had a strong career up to age 30, but faded. Don’t know if off field issues, or training was a factor or not in his demise. Rice and other HOF bound receivers were more valuable to their teams by producing into their 30s, that’s a big advantage. I think Rison finished up in the CFL.

  • Bryce Treese

    Based on Averages….Welker is the only one over 6 recs per game, Jimmy Smith is the only one over 100 yards per game, Powell is the highest at 1.2 TDs per game.