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Position Series: Running Back - Three NFL Rushing Records That May Or May Not Be Broken In 2013

Updated on May 1, 2013

For the past 28 NFL seasons, Eric Dickerson's single season rushing yards record has continued unscathed. In 2012, Adrian Peterson nearly did the unthinkable by rushing for over 2,000 yards, and falling just 8 yards shy of the record. This article features three of the more prestigious single season rushing records, and the players who could possibly break these records, as well as their chances of doing so this upcoming 2013 season.

Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings
Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings

RUSHING YARDS - Eric Dickerson - RB - Los Angeles Rams - 2,105 - 1984 - 29 times in the history of the NFL has a running back rushed for over 1,700 yards in a single season. Only TWO players on that list are still playing in the NFL today--Adrian Peterson and Chris Johnson. On top of that, only seven backs have reached the 2,000 yard mark (Peterson and Johnson included). Most NFL teams these days prefer to go with the "running back by committee" approach, using two or even three runners in a game, rather than relying on just one back to get the job done. This prevents one man's injury from ruining a team's entire season.

In 2009, Chris Johnson rushed for 2,006 yards, earning him the moniker CJ2K. But since then, his Tennessee Titans team has struggled in the win-loss column, and their run blocking has been less than efficient. This off-season, the Titans signed Shonn Greene, the Jets 1,000 yard rusher from a year ago. Greene will drastically cut down on Chris Johnson's chances of getting 25+ carries each game, meaning CJ2K will most likely end the 2013 with 1K at best.

The only real shot of Dickerson's record being broken in 2013 will rest on Adrian Peterson's shoulders. At the end of 2011, Peterson tore his ACL and MCL in his left knee, which for most normal human beings could mean a full year of recovery to even get you close to maybe 90%. But the NFL world has quickly discovered that Peterson is no ordinary man. Not only did he manage to make it back from injury for the first game of the 2012 season, but he performed at the highest level of his career, finishing the season with 2,097 yards. Every time "AP" says he will do something, incredibly he pulls it off. The 2012 NFL League MVP has stated he wants to break Dickerson's record by more than just a few yards this season. If there is one human being out there that could do it, it is Peterson.

Best Chance: Adrian Peterson - Slim to Good

Arian Foster of the Houston Texans
Arian Foster of the Houston Texans

RUSHING TOUCHDOWNS - LaDainian Tomlinson - RB - San Diego Chargers - 28 - 2006 - "LT" set this incredible mark nearly seven years ago, and with today's NFL, his record should stand for quite some time. The main reason is that in the new era of the National Football League, nearly every team has moved to a two or sometimes even three running back system.

Last season there were some outstanding seasons by different backs: Adrian Peterson rushed for over 2,000 yards, falling just 8 yards shy of the record, yet only had 12 rushing TD's. Rookie Alfred Morris set the single-season rushing yards record for a Redskins back, and only had 13 scores. And Arian Foster of the Houston Texans, one of the present "kings" of the fantasy football world, finished his season with over 1,400 yards and 15 TD's. His 15 touchdowns led the NFL. This is how far the touchdown totals for the NFL running back has fallen.

Of the top 100 single season rushing TD's for a back, only 11 of these were by a current RB. Without wanting to empty their stud's tank early in his career, NFL teams are greatly lessening their backs' carries. Michael Turner ran the pigskin 376 times in 2008, and will never receive that many carries again. Only Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, and Arian Foster are the other current players who have had over 350 carries in a season, and still their TD total has never surpassed a total of 20.

As fans, we can give our teams' owners props for keeping their star players healthier for more season with less wear and tear, while also as fans, we can feel a bit bummed when the current "record chasers" are falling ridiculously short of the mark.

Best Chance: Arian Foster - Terrible

Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs
Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs

RUSHING YARDS - SINGLE GAME - Adrian Peterson - RB - Minnesota Vikings - 296 - 2007 - Quite frankly, this is a record that is simply destined to topple probably sooner than later. Since Peterson rushed for 296 vs. the San Diego Chargers, there have been 9 times that a back has rushed for over 220 yards in a single game.

Last season, Tampa Bay rookie sensation Doug Martin ran for 251, while Chiefs' RB Jamaal Charles ran for 233 and 226 yards in a game. Even a no-namer like Browns' RB Jerome Harrison managed to rush for 286 yards in 2009. These days, star running backs are not getting the 350+ carries in a season, but coaches have proved to stick with the "hot hand" during games, resulting in some very big games for some exciting young players.

Adrian Peterson is now 28 years old, and is eyeing Eric Dickerson's single season rushing record he fell just shy of a season ago. He will continue to post big numbers, and possible a few 200 yard games as well, but Minnesota still tries not to kill him throughout the season, being that they are a potential playoff-bound team. Jamaal Charles on the other hand, is on a Chiefs team who finished dead last a season ago, and should be drafting the top offensive lineman in this year's draft. That will shore up one of the NFL's already best offensive lines, and with no other talented back in KC to steal his thunder, Charles could put up his best season yet under ex-Philadelphia coach Andy Reid.

Best Chance: Jamaal Charles - Slim to Good

Copyright April 24, 2013 by Scott Barr

Which of these 3 rushing records do you think could be broken in 2013?

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    • scottbarr profile imageAUTHOR

      Scott Barr 

      5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Agreed rabergeronjr. I sat on pins and needles during that week 17 game against Green Bay, hoping AP would break the record, especially after his injury. He tried with all his might on that last carry too. I was hoping Blair Walsh would have missed that FG and it would have went to overtime!

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      5 years ago from Washington D.C. Metro Area

      Those are some nice records. I was hurt when AP didn't get the All-Time rushing record. The fact that he was able to do what he did after that horrific injury truly shows the work ethic he has.


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