Running Back in Time
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.
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)
|Jim Brown vs. Jim Taylor|
|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.|
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.
|Larry Csonka vs. O.J. Simpson|
|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.|
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.
|Marcus Allen vs. Eric Dickerson|
|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.|
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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