Tag Archives: rushing yards

Dec. 9, 1984 – Eric Dickerson breaks the NFL rushing record


Eric Dickerson was selected second overall in the 1983 NFL Draft by the St. Louis Rams. An immediate success, he established rookie records for most rushing attempts (390), most rushing yards gained (1,808) and most touchdowns rushing (18), including another two receiving touchdowns. His efforts earned him All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors.

In his second season, Dickerson continued his onslaught on the NFL record book becoming a member of the 2000 rushing yards club. Twelve times in 1984 he gained more than 100 yards rushing, breaking the record of 100-yard games in a season held by O. J. Simpson. His 2,105 total yards rushing beat Simpson’s 1973 NFL season record of 2,003 yards (Dickerson having reached 2,007 yards after 15 games), but since the NFL expanded the regular season from 14 to 16 games in 1978, Dickerson had the benefit of playing in two additional games. No one has since rushed for more yards in a single NFL season. Dickerson’s 5.6 yards per carry led the Rams to a playoff berth in 1984.


Oct. 27, 2002 – Smith broke the NFL career rushing record held by Walter Payton


Despite his collegiate success, some NFL teams still felt that Emmitt Smith was too small and slow for the pro game. He fell to the 17th pick in the first round of the 1990 NFL Draft, when he was chosen by the Dallas Cowboys, who traded up to draft him.

Smith was the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,400 rushing yards or more in five consecutive seasons. Smith, Jim Brown, and LaDainian Tomlinson are the only players with seven straight ten-touchdown seasons to start their careers. With 1,021 rushing yards in 2001, Smith became the first player in NFL history with 11 consecutive 1,000 yard seasons and the first to post eleven 1,000-yard rushing seasons in a career. He is the NFL’s all-time leader in rushing attempts with 4,409. Smith is the only player to post three seasons with nineteen or more touchdowns. He also holds the record for most games in a season with a touchdown and most games in a season with a rushing touchdown (15), set in 1995.

Smith leads all running backs with 164 career rushing touchdowns, and his 175 total touchdowns ranks him second only to Jerry Rice‘s 208. The total of his rushing yards, receiving yards (3,224) and fumble return yards (−15) gives him a total of 21,564 yards from the line of scrimmage, making him one of only four players in NFL history to eclipse the 21,000-combined yards mark.

Sept, 14, 2003 – Jamal Lewis set the then NFL record for yards gained in a single-game with 295

Jamal Lewis broke the previous record of 278 single-game rushing yards held by Corey Dillon and finished the game with two touchdowns as the Baltimore Ravens beat the Cleveland Browns 33-13. Lewis would go on to log 2,066 yards for the season, second most at the time. Lewis was rewarded by being named NFL Offensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press.

Lewis’s single-game rushing record was later broken by Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings on November 4, 2007, when he ran for 296 yards against the San Diego Chargers.

Top 10 NFL Single Game Rushing Yards Leaders:
1. Adrian Peterson: 296 – Vikings vs. Chargers, November 4, 2007 
2. Jamal Lewis: 295 – Ravens vs. Browns, September 14, 2003 
3. Jerome Harrison: 286 – Browns vs. Chiefs, December 20, 2009 
4. Corey Dillon: 278 – Bengals vs. Broncos, October 22, 2000 
5. Walter Payton: 275 – Bears vs. Vikings, November 20, 1977 
6. O.J. Simpson: 273 – Bills vs. Lions, November 25, 1976 
7. Shaun Alexander: 266 – Seahawks vs. Raiders, November 11, 2001 
8. Jamaal Charles: 259 – Chiefs vs. Broncos, January 3, 2010 
9. DeMarco Murray: 253 – Cowboys vs. Rams, October 23, 2011 
10. Mike Anderson: 251 – Broncos vs. Saints, December 3, 2000