Greatest NFL Rushing Performances Ever

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - DECEMBER 18: Adrian Peterson #28 of the Minnesota Vikings runs off the field after warmups prior to an NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts at U.S. Bank Stadium on December 18, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Dahlin/Getty Images)

The game has changed in the NFL. An elite running back is no longer necessary to find success as offenses evolve to a more spread style for mobile quarterbacks. 

The value of running backs has gone down, as evident by online betting sites like BetMGM having one running back and nine quarterbacks in the top-ten favorites to win the 2020 MVP Award. Online sports betting and tracking NFL football odds and lines at BetMGM can make watching games more fun, just like a more entertaining brand of offensive football.

While some teams still have an old-school, run-the-football mindset, most NFL franchises aren’t running a back 30 times a game anymore. This means dominant rushing performances are uncommon.

Since 2016, there have been only two players to rush for more than 230 yards in a game — Le’Veon Bell in 2016 and Derrick Henry in 2018.

Here are the best single-game rushing performances.

Most Single-Game Rushing Yards

296 – Adrian Peterson (MIN) vs. San Diego (2007)

295 – Jamal Lewis (BAL) vs. Cleveland (2003)

286 – Jerome Harrison (CLE) vs. Kansas City (2009)

278 – Corey Dillon (CIN) vs. Denver (2000)

275 – Walter Payton (CHI) vs. Minnesota (1977)

273 – O.J. Simpson (BUF) vs. Detroit (1976)

266 – Shaun Alexander (SEA) vs. Oakland (2001)

259 – Jamaal Charles (KAN) vs. Denver (2010)

253 – DeMarco Murray (DAL) vs. St. Louis (2011)

251 – Mike Anderson (DEN) vs. New Orleans (2000)

251 – Doug Martin (TAM) vs. Oakland (2012)

250 – O.J. Simpson (BUF) vs. New England (1973)

250 – Spec Sanders (NY Yankees) vs. Chicago Rockets (1947)

248 – Eric Dickerson (LA Rams) vs. Dallas (1986)

247 – Willie Ellison (LA Rams) vs. New Orleans (1971)

246 – Corey Dillon (CIN) vs. Tennessee (1997)

243 – LaDainian Tomlinson (SD) vs. Oakland (2003)

243 – Cookie Gilchrist (BUF) vs. New York Jets (1963)

238 – Derrick Henry (TEN) vs. Jacksonville (2018)

237 – Barry Sanders (DET) vs. Tampa Bay (1994)

237 – Jim Brown (CLE) Philadelphia (1961)

237 – Jim Brown (CLE) vs. LA Rams (1957)

237 – Emmitt Smith (DAL) vs. Philadelphia (1993)

236 – Le’Veon Bell (PIT) vs. Buffalo (2016)

235 – Doug Martin (TAM) vs. Philadelphia (2015)

Most Single-Game Rushing Touchdowns

There have been more than 55 four-rushing touchdown games. A player has rushed for five touchdowns in a game five times.

5 – Ricky Watters (SF) vs. New York Giants (1994)

5 – James Stewart (JAX) vs. Philadelphia (1997)

5 – Jim Brown (CLE) vs. Baltimore Colts (1959)

5 – Clinton Portis (DEN) vs. Kansas City (2003)

5 – Cookie Gilchrist (BUF) vs. New York Jets (1963)

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Sam Herder is a writer for BetMGM and HERO Sports. A North Dakota State journalism grad, he spent several years in the print media industry before writing for online outlets. Sam has covered sports at all levels — high school, college, and professional — since 2011.