PoF: Best Single Games - Running Backs
Welcome to the Pro Football Focus Page of Fame for running backs, where only the best one-off performances during our time grading (2007 – Present) are mentioned.
If this is your first visit to a “PFF PoF” then the rules are pretty simple. Each game is it’s own island, and only the highest grades make it onto the list.
Anything over a +5.5 grade for this position will get the recognition it deserves!
1. Joique Bell, 2013 – WK16, NYG @ DET: +6.2
Rushing: +3.5, Receiving: +2.5, Blocking: +0.2, Penalties: +0.0
A monster effort from Bell as he ran all over a battered Giants front. He carried the ball 20 times and though he picked up 91 yards it’s telling that he averaged 3 yards per carry after contact and broke four tackles in the process. That alone wouldn’t get him onto this list but when you add in the 10 catches he picked up for 63 yards you have a truly complete day.
2. Fred Jackson, 2009 – WK17, IND @ BUF: +6.1
Rushing: +5.2, Receiving: +0.6, Blocking: +0.3, Penalties: +0.0
Heading into the season finale, Jackson had been quietly making a name for himself. A healthy yards per carry average, but with just the one 100-yard rushing game he hadn’t exactly put people on notice. Step forward a Colts team already resting players, and 60 minutes later Jackson had exploded for 212 yards and forced 11 missed tackles.
=3. C.J. Spiller, 2011 – WK15, MIA @ BUF: +6.0
Rushing: +3.7, Receiving: +1.3, Blocking: +1.0, Penalties: +0.0
A Top 10-pick in 2010, Spiller hadn’t quite lived up to that in his first two seasons in Buffalo. However, he offered a glimpse of what was to come as he dazzled the Dolphins’ defense to the tune of 91 yards on just 12 carries, with an extra 78 yards in the air.
=3. Pierre Thomas, 2007 – WK17, NO @ CHI: +6.0
Rushing: +3.6, Receiving: +1.9, Blocking: +0.5, Penalties: +0.1
Thomas headed into this game with 32 career carries to his belt, but walked out with 20 more and his first 100 yard rushing game brought about largely by forcing 11 missed tackles. None content with doing damage as a rusher he added 12 receptions and 121 yards in the air in a true breakout performance.
=5. Adrian Peterson, 2013 – WK13, CHI @ MIN: +5.8
Rushing: +5.2, Receiving: -0.5, Blocking: +1.0, Penalties: +0.1
A monster day for Peterson who ran all over a misfiring Bears defense to end the day with 211 yards. He did it with 99 yards after contact and by forcing nine missed tackles. Not bad work if you can get it on 35 carries, inspiring his team to an overtime victory.
=5. Chris Brown, 2007 – WK1, TEN @ JAX: +5.8
Rushing: +4.8, Receiving: -0.2, Blocking: +1.2, Penalties: 0.0
The Titans’ Brown started off 2007 in fine form, making the most of the 36 snaps afforded to him — 19 carries later he’d broken five tackles and picked up 175 yards in an outcome few saw coming.
7. Bobby Rainey, 2013 – WK11, ATL @ TB: +5.7
Rushing: +5.5, Receiving: -0.2, Blocking: +0.4, Penalties: 0.0
The Bucs got a big game from their stand in running back as Rainey ran all over the flawed Falcons. By the end of the game he’d broken eight tackles and picked up 163 yards, with 118 of those coming after contact. Not bad for a guy they picked up off the street.
8. Adrian Peterson, 2007 – WK9, SD @ MIN: +5.6
Rushing: +5.6, Receiving: +0.8, Blocking: -0.8, Penalties: 0.0
A day for the ages as rookie Peterson ran wild on the Chargers. Even accounting for a fumble and some poor pass protection, Peterson still picked up a massive grade as he broke 10 tackles and averaged 9.9 yards per carry.
=9. Ronnie Brown, 2007 – WK6, MIA @ CLV: +5.5
Rushing: +4.3, Receiving: +0.6, Blocking: +0.4, Penalties: 0.0
There was some Brown-on-Brown crime going on when Ronnie traveled to Cleveland. His 101 yards rushing might not wow you, but the manner in which he got them should.
=9. Arian Foster, 2010 – WK1, IND @ HST: +5.5
Rushing: +5.1, Receiving: +0.3, Blocking: +0.1, Penalties: 0.0
The season opener of 2010 was one where the Texans answered a lot of questions. Pulverizing the Colts, a star was born as Foster exhibited the patience, burst and nose for the end zone to wrack up 231 yards with three touchdowns to boot.
=9. Brian Westbrook, 2007 – WK3, DET @ PHI: +5.5
Rushing: +1.8, Receiving: +4.2, Blocking: -0.5, Penalties: 0.0
An usual game for a back, in that most of the damage was done in the air. Westbrook finished with a healthy 110 yards rushing, but it was the 111 he made in the air that were more memorable, as he took very little and made an awful lot out of it.
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