Tavon Austin lived up to his triple threat status in the Rams' blowout of the Indianapolis Colts. Austin returned kicks and punts, took carries out of the backfield, and caught several balls that he swiftly jettisoned into the end-zone. Yes, if you were patiently waiting for a breakout performance, today was that day. If you were not so patiently waiting, hopefully this is your wake-up call.
In reality, Austin couldn't have been much more effective today. He only caught two balls from Clemens today, but took both to the house, and racked up 138 yards in the process.
When returning punts, he was effective even when he wasn't returning them for touchdowns; however, when he did take it to the house, he did so from the Rams two yard line.
If that's not enough, he added 1 carry for 4 yards. Austin proved that he can be more than just a receiver and more than just a return man. Fans will breathe a sigh of relief now that they've actually seen the potential that everyone had talked about when Austin was drafted into the league.
While Austin and many of his coaches and teammates may have known this day was coming, many fans and media members had become skeptical. Halfway through his rookie campaign Austin was trending in the wrong direction. After a two touchdown performance against Atlanta in Week 2, Austin had began a touchdown drought, and was being targeted less and less each week. In fact, the big play threat had yet to secure an offensive play over 25 yards the entire season before the stellar Week 10 performance.
Ten must be Austin's lucky number, because on November 10th in the 10th week of the season Austin put up staggering numbers. His longest play went 98 yards on a punt return, but both his receptions for touchdowns were explosive plays over 25 yards, with his longest going 81 yards.
3 TD of 50 or more yards in game at age 22 or younger- Gale Sayers (1965), Randy Moss (1998), Tavon Austin (2013) (h/t @eliassports)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 10, 2013
3 50+ TDs in a game: Tavon Austin, Chris Johnson, Qadry Ismail, Randy Moss, Freddie Solomon, Gale Sayers Gale, Billy Cannon, & Raymond Berry— Chase Stuart (@fbgchase) November 10, 2013
The truth is that Tavon Austin is a very special talent. This was apparent from his college career. Some of the recent criticism of him has been fair, but it has also bordered on hasty and quick to label him. There has been an adjustment period without a doubt, but there has also been a great share of poor luck on Austin's part. How many touchdowns would he have without all the costly penalties? Also, Austin had a little trouble with drops early in the season as well.
In the 38-8 crushing of the Colts, Austin finally got comfortable. Rams fans will hope it remains this way in the weeks to come. One thing's for sure, Austin likely quieted the quick-to-judge critics this week, and will look to build off of this experience as the Rams head into their bye-week.