Dickerson finds daylight

Dickerson finds daylight

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Great players defined by Great Games
A big-time performance in a playoff game is just one unit of measure that helps a player earn a bronze bust in Canton. Our coverage of the 2009 NFL Playoffs includes weekly flashbacks to spectacular games recorded by members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Los Angeles Rams running back Eric Dickerson took the National Football League by storm from the very start of his Hall of Fame career. First, he established a rookie rushing record with 1,808 yards in 1983 before setting the all-time single-season mark with 2,105 yards in his second year.

200-yard playoff rushers
Eric Dickerson was the fourth of just seven runners who’ve ever rushed for 200 yards in a NFL playoff game:

Jan. 5, 1964
Keith Lincoln, Chargers vs. Patriots – 206
Dec. 27, 1975
Lawrence McCutcheon, Rams vs. Cardinals – 202
Jan. 9, 1983
Freeman McNeil, Jets at Bengals – 202
Jan. 4, 1986
Eric Dickerson, Rams vs. Cowboys – 248
Jan. 31, 1988
Timmy Smith, Redskins vs. Broncos – 204
Dec. 30, 2000
Lamar Smith, Dolphins vs. Colts – 209
Jan. 12, 2008
Ryan Grant, Packers vs. Seahawks – 201

Dickerson’s third season was marked by a drop-off in production and resulted in a “sub-par” season, at least by his standards. Yet, he still managed to record another 1,000-yard campaign with a healthy total of 1,234 yards. But, it marked the only season in his first four years he didn’t rush for 1,800 yards. He was also snubbed by not being named to the Pro Bowl for the first time of his young career.

Vindication for Dickerson came in what many newspapers described as the single-greatest playoff performance by a player in NFL history. Dickerson and his Rams opened the 1985 postseason by hosting the NFC Eastern Division champion Dallas Cowboys.

It turned out to be the “Eric Dickerson Show” as L.A.’s star runner ripped apart the Cowboys almost by himself. He rushed for 78 yards in the first two quarters before really opening it up in the second half. By game’s end, he had shattered the NFL playoff rushing record as he ran for 248 yards on 34 carries and scored a pair of long touchdown runs. His offensive production accounted for 80 percent of the Rams’ offense that day. He also outgained the entire Cowboys team as L.A. dominated Dallas, 20-0.

“If you give him a little daylight, he's gone," observed Cowboys' defensive end Ed "Too Tall" Jones.

Dickerson obviously saw a lot of daylight in truly one of the finest individual playoff accomplishments ever recorded.

1985 NFC Divisional Playoff Game (Dallas at Los Angeles)
Gamebook | Program Cover | Eric Dickerson HOF Bio

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