Top 20 Rushers

01/01/2005

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Emmitt Smith became the all-time leading rusher on this carry.  (Photo: James D. Smith/NFL Photos)
Emmitt Smith

Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys made history in Week 8 of the 2002 season when he became the NFL's all-time leading rusher. He surpassed Walter Payton's career total of 16,726 yards on an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter of a game on October 27 (photo). Smith continued to add to his record total and finished the season with 17,162 yards amassed during his 13-year career.

The New York Jets' Curtis Martin increased his career total as he climbed from 18th to 15th place on the Top 20 rushers list. Martin, who gained 1,094 yards this past season, has now rushed for 1,000 yards in each of his eight seasons in the NFL.

One new addition to the Top 20 in 2002 was Eddie George of the Tennessee Titans. George finished the season in 19th place just 429 yards behind Hall of Famer Earl Campbell. George had surpassed Campbell in the team record book during 2002 to become the franchise's all-time leading rusher.

Two other active runners also rank among the career leaders in rushing yards. Jerome Bettis of the Pittsburgh Steelers jumped two spots to 10th all-time while the St. Louis Rams' Marshall Faulk ranks 14th all-time with 10,395 yards.

Leading Lifetime Rushers
(At the Start of 2003 Season)

Rank Player League Yrs Att Yds Avg TD
1 (2) EMMITT SMITH NFL 13 4,052 17,162 4.2 153
2 (1) Walter Payton* NFL 13 3,838 16,726 4.4 110
3 (3) Barry Sanders NFL 10 3,062 15,269 5.0 99
4 (4) Eric Dickerson* NFL 11 2,996 13,259 4.4 90
5 (5) Tony Dorsett* NFL 12 2,936 12,739 4.3 77
6 (6) Jim Brown* NFL 9 2,359 12,312 5.2 106
7 (7) Marcus Allen NFL 16 3,022 12,243 4.1 123
8 (8) Franco Harris* NFL 13 2,949 12,120 4.1 91
9 (9) Thurman Thomas NFL 13 2,877 12,074 4.2 65
10 (12) JEROME BETTIS NFL 10 2,873 11,542 4.0 62
11 (10) John Riggins* NFL 14 2,916 11,352 3.9 104
12 (11) O.J. Simpson* AFL-NFL 11 2,404 11,236 4.7 61
13 (13) Ricky Watters NFL 10 2,622 10,643 4.1 78
14 (16) MARSHALL FAULK NFL 9 2,367 10,395 4.4 87
15 (18) CURTIS MARTIN NFL 8 2,604 10,361 4.0 71
16 (14) O.J. Anderson NFL 14 2,562 10,273 4.0 81
17 (15) Joe Perry* AAFC-NFL 16 1,929 9,723 5.0 71
18 (17) Earl Campbell* NFL 8 2,187 9,407 4.3 74
19 (--) EDDIE GEORGE NFL 7 2,421 8,978 3.7 59
20 (19) Terry Allen NFL 10 2,152 8,614 4.0 73

2002 Notes:
EDDIE GEORGE entered the Top 20 in Week 13. Jim Taylor * (1,941 attempts for 8,597 yards, 83 TDs) was displaced from the Top 20.

Next in Line:
Players active in 2002 who rank closest to a Top 20 ranking: COREY DILLON (7,520) and GARRISON HEARST (7,117). TERRELL DAVIS (7,607) was on injured reserve in 2002.


ACTIVE IN 2002
* Pro Football Hall of Fame Member
( ) - indicates rank at the start of the 2002 season

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