Cortland Finnegan and Michael Griffin were left in chase mode. Three other Titans DBs joined in the foot race from various pursuit angles, but Bowe outran them all. Some 75 yards later Bowe was celebrating with fans in the west end zone. Five defensive backs left in the dust and another scoring play for the Chiefs.
Some say it’s the fastest that they’ve ever seen Bowe run.
“If you want to say that, fine,” Bowe smiled. “I heard people saying, ‘I didn’t know that Bowe could run that fast.’ Well, now you know.”
Bowe’s “new found” display of speed hasn’t been merely a flash in the pan. He’s run away from defenders in Houston (video) and against Jacksonville (video) in similar fashions. The run after catch prowess that Bowe’s shown this season is like none other he’s displayed during his previous three seasons with the Chiefs.
Strong and athletic were assets that belonged to Bowe, but he was never considered a burner. He also wasn’t thought of, by any token, as one of the best receivers in the game.
This season is different though. Bowe’s turning in a career year. In addition to the TD totals and 1,000-yard season, Bowe received the first Pro Bowl invite of his four-year career this week and, because of that “simple” route against the Titans, became the first Chiefs receiver in 19 years to earn AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Something else is different as well.
As Bowe has been showered with accolades and turned in big-play performances, we’ve hardly heard a peep out of the player formerly known as “D-Bowe.” Dwayne Bowe is beginning to mature.
“As everything has gotten bigger, I’ve think about last season and how everything started off and the sacrifices made in the offseason to be where I’m at today,” Bowe said. “It all brings back memories of being overweight to now being (in-shape) and running away from 4.3 cornerbacks.”
On Tuesday evening, Bowe was at home and turned on his television. Both nervous and hopeful, the Kansas City’s play-making wide out watched the NFL Network’s Pro Bowl Selection Show just like everyone else. He had no foresight, just a season’s worth of gaudy statistics and a positive attitude.
Bowe found out about his invitation to the 2011 Pro Bowl the same way that many of us average Joe’s did; sitting at home and watching TV.
“I was just like, ‘thank you Jesus,’” Bowe smiled. “I still don’t think its hit me yet. Everybody is still patting me on the back, but I figure if we go deep in the playoffs it will finally hit me.”
To say that Bowe would be the first Chiefs wide receiver elected to the Pro Bowl since Andre Rison (1997) would have been a preposterous statement just one year ago. Had the Dwayne Bowe from 2009 been up for a Pro Bowl invite, he might have hosted an extravagant watch party.
A poor offseason of preparation led to Todd Haley’s training camp dog house, a disappointing year and, eventually, a four-game NFL suspension.
“I always knew that I could be a great player,” Bowe said. “I just needed to humble myself and have some good guys around me. Todd and (Scott) Pioli have done that in putting great guys around me and now it’s like a walk in the park.”
If Bowe’s 2010 season has been a walk in the park, his 2009 campaign was resembled more of a jog filled with hail and lighting. Haley provided most of the fury.
Bowe was underachieving and possibly even on his way out of Kansas City. There was a load of potential there, but Haley had to find a way to bring those skills to the foreground. Bowe had to change his way of thinking to let the skills step in front of the “D-Bowe” persona.
“That’s why he was so hard on me,” Bowe said. “He was always on me and he always told me, ‘you’re going to be a special kid.’”
Haley’s tactics are an easy thing for Bowe player to understand now that his career has seemingly taken a 180-degree turn. They say hindsight is always 20/20, but Bowe admits he didn’t always understand Haley’s constant prodding at first.
“I would say that it didn’t hit me until this past offseason,” Bowe admitted. “This last offseason when I was talking to (Larry) Fitzgerald and found out about how hard (Haley) was on him and what kind of player he turned out to be.
“I was like, it’s just time to buy-in to the program and keep my nose down to see where it takes me. So far, it’s taken me to the top.”
The change in approach has Bowe leading all NFL receivers with 15 TD receptions. He also owns a league-high with five multi-TD games. All the while, Haley has been in Bowe’s corner; publically pleased, but still pushing his receiver for more.
“Everything is more fun when you’re winning,” Bowe said. “I wouldn’t trade anything in the world for last season. I’m glad I went through it to know what it feels like to be almost a good player to now being up there with the great players (in the Pro Bowl).
“I wouldn’t ever want to step back to that. I know what it feels like and I know what it took to get here from the offseason preparations. So I’m going to stay on this track.”
Cutting out the “D-Bowe” and focusing on the things can actually make “Dwayne Bowe” a household name has worked. It just taken four seasons, a fiery head coach and a load of adversity for Bowe to bounce of a all-time lows to reach new highs.
“Now that I understand the game, I would recommend that to every young guy,” Bowe said. “It’s not all about being flamboyant and outspoken. It’s about your productivity. Since I’ve been keeping my head down and not saying anything, it’s been going up.”
The numbers don’t lie and Bowe is being rewarded for his hard work. He’s found out what it takes to turn in an All-Star season. Going forward, the challenge doesn’t get any easier.
But this time around, Bowe finds himself prepared before he has to take the test.
“For people to know how hard I worked in the offseason, people keep bringing it up, ‘oh, he’s been working with Cris Carter and Fitzgerald; it must be hard.’ And it was hard,” said Bowe. “Now, looking back at it, it wasn’t that hard. This is the hard part, sustaining it week-in and week-out to win the ultimate goal.”