New England Patriots’ All-Time Rushing Yardage Leaders
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The New England Patriots began as an AFL franchise in 1960, the Boston Patriots, and became an NFL team after the merger in 1971. Since then, the Pats have won three out of six Super Bowl appearances and have been competitive more often than not. Still, it’s quite amazing that this team has never fielded anyone who has rushed for more than 6000 yards in his Patriots’ career. Here is a list of the Pats’ all-time Top 10 in rushing yards:
Sam Cunningham (5453)—Sam “Bam” Cunningham played for the Patriots his entire career, from 1973 to 1982. Over that time, Cunningham became the team’s all-time leading rusher, a distinction he still holds today, with 5453 rushing yards. Cunningham had just one Pro Bowl season, in 1978, but his best overall season was 1977. That year, Cunningham rushed for a career high 1015 yards with 4 rushing touchdowns, and added 42 catches for another 370 yards and 1 more TD out of the backfield.
Jim Nance (5323)—Not to be confused with broadcaster Jim Nantz, this Jim Nance, in addition to spelling his name differently, was a bruising fullback. Nance played for Boston and New England most of his career, from 1965 to 1971, making two honors as first team All Pro. Nance ranks second in Patriots’ history with 5323 rushing yards, and his best season with the team was 1966. That year, Nance was first team All Pro with career highs in rushing yards (1458) and rushing TDs (11), both of which led the NFL. He also added 8 catches for 103 yards that season.
Tony Collins (4647)—Tony Collins played for the Patriots most of his career, from 1981 to 1987. Collins ranks third in franchise history with 4647 rushing yards. His best season for them was his lone Pro Bowl year of 1983, when Collins rushed for career highs in yard (1049) and rushing touchdowns (10), adding 27 catches for 257 yards as a receiver.
Curtis Martin (3799)—Before Curtis Martin became a Jet, he had three great seasons, including two Pro Bowl campaigns, with New England, where he played from 1995 to 1997. Despite just three seasons with the team, Martin ranks fourth in Pats’ history with 3799 rushing yards. His best season there was 1995, when he rushed for 1487 yards with 14 rushing TDs (tied career high), adding 30 catches for 261 yards and one more score out of the backfield.
Don Calhoun (3391)—Don Calhoun played for New England most of his career, from 1975 to 1981. Calhoun ranks fifth in team history with 3391 rushing yards, and his best season in New England was 1980. That year, Calhoun rushed for career best numbers in rushing yards (787) and rushing touchdowns (9), adding 27 catches for 129 more yards.
John Stephens (3249)—John Stephens was with the Patriots from 1988 to 1992, and ranks sixth in their history with 3249 rushing yards. Stephens had his best season in his rookie campaign, with a career high 1168 rushing yards with 4 rushing TDs, and adding 14 catches for 98 yards as a receiver.
Corey Dillon (3180)—After Corey Dillon came over from the Bengals in 2004, he had the best season of his career right off the bat. Dillon played for New England for just three seasons, 2004-2006, but ranks seventh in team history with 3180 rushing yards. In that 2004 season, Dillon went to the Pro Bowl by rushing for a career high 1635 yards with 12 rushing touchdowns, and added 15 catches for 103 yards and one more score out of the backfield.
Kevin Faulk (3170)—Amazingly, Kevin Faulk has been with New England his entire career, from 1999 through 2008 and probably beyond. That means Faulk is the only name on this list with three Super Bowl rings. Faulk, mostly a backup during his career, still ranks eighth in Patriots’ history with 3170 rushing yards. Faulk had a career high 638 rushing yards in 2003, but his best overall season was 2000, with 570 rushing yards and 4 rushing touchdowns, adding 51 catches for 465 yards and one more TD.
Larry Garron (2981)—Larry Garron was an original Patriot, playing for the team from 1960 to 1968. Garron ranks ninth in franchise history with 2981 rushing yards, and his best season in a Pats’ uniform was 1963, one of four Pro Bowl seasons for Garron. That year, he rushed for a career best 750 yards with 2 rushing TDs, adding 26 catches for 418 yards and 2 more touchdowns out of the backfield.
Antowain Smith (2781)—Antowain Smith played for the Patriots from 2001 to 2003, and ranks tenth in team history with 2781 rushing yards. Smith had his best season in 2001, the year the Patriots won their first Super Bowl. That year, Smith rushed for career highs in yards (1157) and rushing touchdowns (12), and added 19 catches for 192 yards and one more score as a receiver.