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NFL Rushing Yardage Leaders By Year—1980s

Updated on February 22, 2008

Eric Dickerson

Marcus Allen

Earl Campbell


Eric Dickerson broke the all-time single-season rushing record in 1984, with 2105 yards, and it's a record that still stands today. Meanwhile, Dickerson led the league in rushing four times in the ‘80s, three times with the Rams and once with the Colts. Here is a complete list of those leaders in the decade:

1989-Christian Okoye, Kansas City Chiefs (1480)

While Christian Okoye only played in the NFL for six seasons, he was a force in the backfield for Kansas City. In 1989, Okoye carried 370 times for an NFL-leading 1480 yards, with 12 touchdowns, averaging 98.7 yards per game.

1988-Eric Dickerson, Indianapolis Colts (1659)

In Eric Dickerson's first full season with the Colts, he carried 388 times for 1659 yards, which led the NFL. Dickerson also had 14 rushing TDs, and added 36 receptions for another 377 yards and one more touchdown out of the backfield.

1987-Charles White, Los Angeles Rams (1374)

After Eric Dickerson was traded, Charles White became the starting running back in Los Angeles, and in 1987 White led the league with 1374 rushing yards on 324 carries with 11 touchdowns. He added 23 catches for 121 yards as a receiver.

1986-Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams (1821)

While not his personal best, Eric Dickerson still had a stellar year in 1986, his last full season with the Rams before a trade to the Colts. That year, Dickerson carried the ball 404 times for 1821 yards, which led the league. He had 11 rushing TDs, and added 26 receptions for 205 yards as well.

1985-Marcus Allen, Los Angeles Raiders (1759)

For as great a career as Marcus Allen had, he only led the NFL in rushing one time, with a career high 1759 yards in 1985, on 380 carries. Allen also had 11 rushing TDs, and added 67 catches for another 555 yards (giving him 2314 all-purpose yards) with 3 more touchdowns.

1984-Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams (2105)

1984 was a magical year for the Rams' Eric Dickerson, as he carried 379 times for a career-high and NFL record 2105 yards and 14 touchdowns. In addition to rushing for an average of 131.6 yards per game, Dickerson added 21 catches for 139 yards out of the backfield.

1983-Eric Dickerson, Los Angeles Rams (1808)

Amazingly, 1983 was Eric Dickerson's rookie season, and in it he led the NFL in rushing with 1808 yards on 390 carries and 18 TDs. He even added 51 catches for 404 yards and another 2 touchdowns as a receiver.

1982-Freeman McNeil, New York Jets (786)

Jets' running back Freeman McNeil had two 1000-yard rushing seasons, but in 1982's strike-shortened year, McNeil led the NFL with 786 yards on 151 carries with 6 touchdowns. He added 16 catches for 187 yards and one more TD out of the backfield.

1981-George Rogers, New Orleans Saints (1674)

George Rogers had a pretty nice seven-year NFL career, but his best season was his rookie year of 1981. That season, Rogers, carried 378 times for an NFL-leading 1674 yards with 13 touchdowns. He added 16 catches for 126 yards as well.

1980-Earl Campbell, Houston Oilers (1934)

Houston's Earl Campbell got out of the gate fast, leading the NFL in rushing his first three seasons. 1980 was the last of those three, as Campbell carried 373 times for 1934 yards (128.9 yards per game) with 13 TDs. He added 11 catches for 47 yards.


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