When the New York Jets travel to Heinz Field on Sunday to face the Pittsburgh Steelers, the game will not only feature two teams vying for the playoffs but will showcase two of the NFL's all-time great runners.
Pittsburgh's Jerome Bettis and the Jets' Curtis Martin have secured their place in National Football League history. The only players on the NFL's list of career rushing leaders that separate the duo from Emmitt Smith - the game's all-time leading rusher - is a trio of Hall of Famers that includes Walter Payton, Barry Sanders, and Eric Dickerson.
Just six yards separate the career rushing totals of Bettis and Martin, who rank fifth and sixth respectively. The two have amassed more yards than such Hall of Fame runners as Tony Dorsett, Jim Brown, Marcus Allen, Franco Harris, O.J. Simpson, and Earl Campbell.
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As we await Week 14's battle in Pittsburgh, here is a look at some showdowns between Hall of Fame running backs over the years.
(Note: click on the Hall of Famer's photo to access his biography)
|Moore and Perry were two of the most dynamic runners during the 1950s and 1960s. Perry was the first running back in history to rush for 1,000 yards in two straight seasons while Moore's string of scoring a TD in 18 consecutive games remains an NFL record today.
Nov. 30, 1958
The Colts stormed back from a 27-7 halftime deficit to beat the 49ers 35-27 and capture the franchise's first Western Conference crown. Lenny Moore racked up 114 yards on eight carries that included a dazzling 73-yard game-winning touchdown run.
Like Moore, Perry went over the 100-yard mark for the day. He led the 49ers attack with 113 yards rushing on 14 carries.
|Brown and Taylor were the premier runners in the NFL during the late 1950s and early 1960s. The duo finished first and second in rushing four times in a five-year period from 1960-1964. Taylor led the league in rushing in 1962 which marked the only time in Brown's nine-year career that he didn't win the rushing crown.
Nov. 22, 1964
In Week 11 action at Milwaukee's County Stadium, the Green Bay Packers ended the Cleveland Browns five-game winning streak.
Taylor led the charge for Green Bay as he scored two rushing touchdowns (1 yard, 5 yards) in the third quarter en route to the Packers 28-21 win over the Browns. In all, he carried the ball 22 times for 63 yards, the bulk of which came during the Packers' second half surge. Taylor also contributed four catches to the effort that day.
Brown supplied much of Cleveland's offense as he gained 74 yards on 16 rushes and scored on a one-yard plunge at the end of the first quarter. He also had five catches.
|Csonka and Simpson faced each other twice a year as the Dolphins and Bills were bitter rivals in the AFC East. Csonka - a powerhouse fullback - and Simpson - the game's first 2,000-yard rusher - fueled their team's offenses.
Sept. 26, 1971
In a game at Buffalo's War Memorial Stadium that featured a team-tying five field goals by the Dolphins Garo Yepremian, both Csonka and Simpson turned in impressive performances.
Csonka rushed for 103 yards on 20 carries and scored 1 TD while Simpson amassed 82 yards on just nine carries including a 46-yard score in the third quarter. Csonka contributed two catches for 34 yards while Simpson had five receptions for 31 yards.
The Dolphins won the game, 29-14.
|Campbell and Riggins were two of the most punishing runners in NFL history. The Hall of Fame running backs squared off in the 1979 NFL season opener.
Sept. 2, 1979
Campbell picked up where he left off during his MVP season in 1978 as he gained 166 yards rushing and ran for two touchdowns. He added the game-winner with 1:57 to play to give the Houston Oilers a 29-27 win over the Washington Redskins.
The Oilers' winning drive was set up when Riggins uncharacteristically fumbled with just over six minutes remaining in the game.
Riggins finished the day with 54 yards on 12 carries en route to his second straight 1,000-yard season.
|Dorsett and Payton were two of the most prolific rushers of all-time. Dorsett retired as the game's second all-time leading rusher trailing only Payton on the career rushing chart.
Sept. 30, 1984
In Week 5 action, Dallas edged the Bears, 23-14, at Soldier Field. Walter Payton rushed for 155 yards, of which 130 came in the first half. He scored one touchdown - a 20-yard run - in the second quarter.
Dorsett scored the Cowboys' first touchdown of the day on a 68-yard pass reception. He totaled 51 yards rushing on 18 carries and caught four passes for 80 yards.
|Dickerson had electrified the NFL by setting the single-season rushing record in 1984. Then, one year later Allen led the league with his MVP effort. The two met on the football field for the time in 1985.
Dec. 23, 1985
Los Angeles's two teams - the Raiders and Rams - readied for the post-season with this regular season finale on Monday Night Football.
Allen, the league's MVP that season, recorded his ninth straight 100-yard effort by gaining 123 yards. In doing so, he became the first Raider to lead the league in rushing as he finished the year with 1,759 yards.
Meanwhile, Dickerson carried the ball 25 times for 98 yards and finished his third pro season with 1,234 yards. The Raiders won the game, 16-6.
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