All-Time NFL Rushing TD Leaders
Here is an interesting statistic. Of all the running backs in NFL history, two active players are in the top 10 all-time in scoring touchdowns-San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson and Seattle's Shaun Alexander. That should make fantasy owners happy, as well as, of course, the teams they play for. Here is the top 10 all-time in this category:
Emmitt Smith played most of his career with the Dallas Cowboys, from 1990 to 2002, then finished out his career in the desert of Arizona for two seasons before retiring in 2004. Smith was a touchdown machine, playing on those great Cowboys' teams of the nineties, scoring 164 times on the ground in all. In 1995, Smith had career highs in carries (377), yards (1773), and touchdowns (25). He also scored double digit TDs eight times, and is the NFL's all-time leading rusher with 18,355 yards.
Marcus Allen ranks so high in this category more because of longevity, as he played for the Raiders and Chiefs from 1982 to 1997 and scored 123 rushing touchdowns. But Allen's career high is 13, which he reached in 1984, and he only had double digits in TDs five other times. Allen did, however, rush for 12,243 yards in his career, and also added 5411 yards and 21 TDs as a receiver.
You don't mention prolific touchdown scorers without mentioning this current player, who could break many rushing records before his career is over. Tomlinson came into the league in 2001, and has never rushed for less than 1236 yards. That was his first year, when he also scored a career low of 10 TDs. Otherwise, Tomlinson always reaches double digits in TDs, with 115 for his career, and in 2006 broke the all-time record with 28 rushing TDs in a season. Also, in seven-plus seasons, Tomlinson has already rushed for 10,650 yards.
Walter Payton, nicknamed "Sweetness," was one of the greatest running backs of all-time, and played his entire career with the Chicago Bears (1975-1987). Payton rushed for 16,726 yards and 110 touchdowns. He reached his season high in TDs in both 1977 and 1979, with 14.
Jim Brown only played nine seasons, all with the Cleveland Browns (1957-1965), but he is widely considered as the greatest running back ever to play the game. Brown is fourth all-time in the NFL with 106 rushing touchdowns, and his season high was 17, in both 1958 and 1965. Brown also averaged an astounding 5.2 yards per carry for his career.
John Riggins began his career with the New York Jets, where he played from 1971-1975, but it wasn't until he played for the Washington Redskins, from 1976 to 1985, that he came into his own. Riggins rushed for 13 touchdowns in 1981, but once HC Joe Gibbs figured out how to use Riggins effectively, he found out he was a TD machine. Riggins had a career high of 24 touchdowns in 1983 and added another 14 in 1984.
Marshall Faulk played for the Colts and Rams from 1994-2005, and put up some great numbers, including 100 rushing touchdowns. Faulk also added 36 receiving TDs. In 2000 with the Rams, Faulk had a career high of 18 rushing TDs and also caught 8 more passes for touchdowns. He also finished his career with 12,279 rushing yards.
Shaun Alexander is another prolific running back who came into the league in 2000 (the year before Tomlinson). Alexander, though he has battled injuries, has already rushed for 9429 yards and 100 touchdowns. And before Tomlinson broke the record for TDs in a single season on the ground, Alexander had the record for one season, reaching paydirt 27 times in 2005. And between 2001 and 2004, Alexander never scored less than 14 TDs.
It's always fun to speculate how many records Barry Sanders would have broken had he continued to play, but he only did play (all for the Detroit Lions) from 1989-1998. Over that time, Sanders rushed for 15,269 yards and 99 touchdowns. In 1991, Sanders had a career high of 16 rushing TDs, and in all he had six seasons with 11 or more TDs on the ground.
"The Bus" played for the Rams and Steelers from 1993-2005, though he is best remembered for winning the Super Bowl with Pittsburgh in his final season. Early in his career, Bettis was more of a yardage back, rushing for over 1000 yards eight times, but he became more of a third down and goal line specialist later on in his career. In fact, in 2004, Bettis rushed for just 941 yards but scored a career high of 13 rushing TDs. In all, Bettis finished with 91 touchdowns on the ground for his career.