Who Currently Holds the Single Season NFL Rushing Record?
Eric Dickerson may be the owner of a record that might actually never be broken. In a spectacular 1984 NFL season, Dickerson rushed for 2,105 yards, which is the record for rushing yards in a single season.
Peering through his facemask and his trademark sports goggles, Dickerson was a man on a mission that year, playing in all 16 games for the Los Angeles Rams, and carrying the ball over 20 times in all but two contests that season.
The astonishing thing was, Eric Dickerson had already eclipsed the 2,003 rushing yards O.J. Simpson posted in 1973 through 15 regular season games, so his final game that season was just in place to extend his record out that much farther.
In the game where he broke Simpson’s record, against the Houston Oilers in December 1984, Dickerson shredded his hometown team for 215 yards on 27 carries. According to Dickerson, Houston’s defense was being overly physical with him after the play was over, and was verbally taunting him throughout the game. This made the Hall of Fame running back that much more determined to set the record right there and then.
“I had hoped to do it in San Francisco, in front of national TV, but they got me mad with all their talking. I told our line, ‘We’re gonna get it today.’ I was going to make it a long day for them.” Via TheUndefeated.com
While 1984 was his banner season, Eric Dickerson had a few other campaigns that were nearly as remarkable. In his rookie year, the former SMU star ran for 1,808 yards and scored an eye-popping 20 total touchdowns (18 rushing, 2 receiving). In 1986, he set his career high for carries in a season with 404 and sprinted for 1,821 yards.
Dickerson’s record may withstand the test of time for many years to come, but in 2012, a worthy challenger tried to take down his gaudy total. Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson came within a hair of topping Dickerson’s single season total but fell just eight yards short. Eric Dickerson was quoted as saying in 2012 that he was not rooting for his record to be broken.
"I don't want him to break it," Eric Dickerson told Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com. "I'll be honest. I don't want to see it. If anyone ever broke it, and if my son played football, I'd want my son to break it. But that's it. No one else. Via NFL.com
With the average length of running backs’ careers dwindling and the emphasis on the passing game more pronounced than ever, Eric Dickerson should take solace in the fact that the game has evolved into something that does not support having his record broken.