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.
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.
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.
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).
- Aided, of course, by his scorched earth performance against the 2000 Ravens. [↩]
- 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. [↩]
- 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. [↩]