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Top Single Season NFL Rushing Touchdowns

Updated on November 9, 2007

LaDainian Tomlinson

Shaun Alexander

Priest Holmes

Since the advent of fantasy football some 20 years ago, there has been more of a focus on running backs who can cross the goal line. Judging by the top ten single season performances and the fact that most of them are pretty recent, is it a coincidence? I think not, because fantasy football is generating big bucks and can help players win long-term contract dollars. Anyway, here is that top ten in rushing touchdown seasons since 1960:

LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego Chargers - 28 TDs - 2006

LaDainian Tomlinson, known as "LT" (no disrespect to Lawrence Taylor), is on his way to possibly becoming the greatest running back of all-time. He's only been playing since 2001 and already has 9833 rushing yards and 107 rushing TDs. In 2006, however, Tomlinson had his best season yet, with 348 carries for 1815 yards and an NFL record 28 rushing touchdowns. He also added 508 receiving yards and 3 receiving TDs that season.

Shaun Alexander, Seattle Seahawks - 27 TDs - 2005

Before LT's breakout season, Shaun Alexander had a monster year in Seattle. Alexander is another RB who has really busted out since joining the NFL in 2000, rushing for 9205 yards and 98 TDs so far. But in 2005, Alexander had 370 carries for 1880 yards and 27 touchdowns, which tied Priest Holmes' record at the time. His performance that year helped the Seahawks reach the Super Bowl.

Priest Holmes, Kansas City Chiefs - 27 TDs - 2003

In 2002 and 2003, Priest Holmes took his running to another level, with more than 20 touchdowns both seasons. But in 2003, Holmes broke Emmitt Smith's single-season rushing TD mark, with 27. He had 1420 rushing yards and another 690 as a receiver that season. Holmes sat out part of 2005 and all of 2006 with a neck injury, but is back on the field in 2007.

Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys - 25 TDs - 1995

Emmitt Smith played on those great Cowboys teams of the mid-90s that won three Super Bowls. In 1995, Smith broke a record that stood for twelve years, rushing for 25 touchdowns. Smith also had a career high in rushing yardage that year with 1773, averaging 4.7 yards per rush. In addition, Smith is the NFL's all-time leader in rushing yardage with 18,355 and rushing TDs with 164.

John Riggins, Washington Redskins - 24 TDs - 1983

John Riggins was a bull of a fullback who really came into his own the last few seasons he played for the Redskins. In 1983, Riggins helped Washington reach the Super Bowl by rushing for 1347 yards and 24 touchdowns. The TDs were a record at the time, and currently Riggins ranks fifth in history for a single season in that category.

Priest Holmes, Kansas City Chiefs - 21 TDs - 2002

The last five RBs on this list are tied for sixth in NFL history with 21 TDs. But we'll start with Priest Holmes, who is on the list twice already. In 2002, Holmes rushed for a career high of 1615 yards with 21 TDs and added another 672 yards and 3 TDs as a receiver.

Emmitt Smith, Dallas Cowboys - 21 TDs - 1994

Emmitt Smith had back-to-back seasons with more than 20 touchdowns, including 21 TDs in 1994. That season, he rushed 368 times for 1484 yards, adding 341 yards and 1 TD as a receiver.

Terrell Davis, Denver Broncos - 21 TDs - 1998

Terrell Davis helped the Broncos reach the Super Bowl with his performance in 1998. Though his career was cut short by injury, Davis had one of the greatest seasons ever for a running back in '98, rushing for 2008 yards with 21 TDs. The 2008 yards ranks fourth in NFL history for a single season.

Terry Allen, Washington Redskins - 21 TDs - 1996

Terry Allen was a steady running back who had a breakout year in 1996, rushing for career highs in rushing yardage (1353) and touchdowns (21). Allen had four straight seasons with over 1000 yards rushing.

Joe Morris, New York Giants - 21 TDs - 1985

It wasn't the Giants' Super Bowl winning season, but the year before that running back Joe Morris really showed what he could do carrying the ball. Morris rushed for just 5585 yards in an eight-year career, but in 1985 had 1336 yards and a career high of 21 touchdowns. The 21 TDs ties Morris for sixth in NFL history for a single season.


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