Tag Archives: rushing

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.


Dec. 1, 2002 – Michael Vick ran for 173 yards to set a then NFL single-game record for quarterbacks

Michael Vick, in his second NFL season with the Atlanta Falcons, made 15 starts, missing one game against the New York Giants on October 13 with a sprained shoulder. He completed 231 of 421 passes for 2,936 yards and 16 touchdowns. He had 113 carries for 777 yards and eight rushing touchdowns. Vick also set a then-NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a single a game with 173, in a 30-24 win over the Minnesota Vikings on December 1, broken by Colin Kaepernick (181) in 2013. Vick capped the win against the Vikings game with his second rushing touchdown that came on an incredible 46-yard run in the sudden-death period. That was the longest TD run ever by a quarterback in overtime.

Nov. 17, 1956 – Jim Brown of Syracuse scored 43 points with six TDs and kicked seven extra-points

As a sophomore at Syracuse University, Jim Brown was the second leading rusher on the team. As a junior, he rushed for 666 yards (5.2 per carry). In his senior year, Brown was a unanimous first-team All-American. He finished 5th in the Heisman Trophy voting, and set school records for highest rush average (6.2) and most rushing touchdowns (6). He ran for 986 yards—third most in the country despite Syracuse playing only eight games—and scored 14 touchdowns. In the regular-season finale, a 61–7 rout of Colgate, he rushed for 197 yards, scored six touchdowns and kicked seven extra points for 43 points (another school record). Then in the Cotton Bowl, he rushed for 132 yards, scored three touchdowns and kicked three extra points. But a blocked extra point after Syracuse’s third touchdown was the difference as TCU won 28–27.

Perhaps more impressive was his success as a multi-sport athlete. In addition to his football accomplishments, he excelled in basketball, track, and especially lacrosse. As a sophomore, he was the second leading scorer for the basketball team (15 ppg), and earned a letter on the track team. His junior year, he averaged 11.3 points in basketball, and was named a second-team All-American in lacrosse. His senior year, he was named a first-team All-American in lacrosse (43 goals in 10 games to rank second in scoring nationally).

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.

Oct. 22, 2000 – Corey Dillon ran 278 yards to set the NFL single game rushing mark

Corey Dillon of the Cincinnati Bengals ran for 278 yards to set the NFL single-game rushing mark. Dillon was already on his way to a fantastic game when he broke loose for scoring runs of 65 and 41 yards in the final five minutes of the game to give him the edge over Payton. When his accomplishment was announced, Dillon dropped to his knees and prayed while his teammates dumped ice water on his back.

“I still don’t believe it”, Dillon told reporters after the game. “From how I was running, I didn’t see that I had that many yards. I was just out there trying to get four yards.”

His 278 rushing yards broke Walter Payton‘s single-game mark of 275 yards set on November 20, 1977. The record has since been broken by Jamal Lewis295 yards) on September 14, 2003, and Adrian Peterson (296 yards) on November 4, 2007.

Oct. 7, 1984 – Walter Payton passed Jim Brown to become the NFL leading rusher

Walter Payton finished Chicago Bears‘ victory over the New Orleans Saints with 154 yards on 32 carries, giving him a career total of 12,400 yards, 88 more than Brown.

Many modern NFL running backs have cited Payton as a source of inspiration. Emmitt Smith tearfully paid homage to Payton after breaking Payton’s rushing record. LaDainian Tomlinson, who set numerous records during the 2006 NFL season, named Payton as one of his foremost mentors and inspirations.

Payton was the NFL’s all-time leader in rushing yards and all-purpose yards prior to the 2002 NFL season, when Emmitt Smith broke his record. He also held the single game rushing record until the 2000 NFL season, when it was broken by Corey Dillon. Payton led the league in rushing yards and touchdowns in the 1977 NFL season. Also, he was among the top-ten players for rushing attempts during his entire career, including 1976, 1977, and 1978, leading the category in 1979. As of 2006, he was the NFL’s second all-time rusher, and he ranked third in rushing touchdowns scored. Along with Frank Gifford, Payton threw six interceptions, more than any other non-quarterback position in NFL history. He also passed for eight touchdowns.

Sept 16, 1973 – O.J. Simpson rushed 250 yards, sets NFL single game rushing record


This was the greatest rushing performance on opening weekend history. Dating back to 1933, no back has ever turned in a better kickoff-weekend effort than Hall of Famer O.J. Simpson . The Buffalo Bills former bruiser burned the New England Patriots for 250 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries in a brilliant Week 1 showing. Simpson scored on an 80-yard run in the first quarter and a 22-yard run in the third quarter.

Simpson also went on to break the season rushing record of 1,863 yards set by Cleveland Browns‘ Jimmy Brown in 1963. Then, on the last game of the season against the New York Jets in Shea Stadium, Simpson broke the 2,000-yard mark by finishing the season with 2,003 yards. O.J. had set a new mark for excellence and it wasn’t until years later that Eric Dickerson broke that record.