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NFL International Series Game 13: The Best Ever…RBs


You have to be tough to grind out the yards in frigid Buffalo, and that’s exactly what their best ever running back was. Born in Houston, Texas in the Spring of 1966 Thurman Thomas went on to attend Oklahoma University, and had a storied three years there. As a sophomore in 1985 he finished fourth in the nation with 1,553 yards. His junior year was hampered with an ACL injury, but Thomas made a stellar return in his senior year in 1987. He ran for a total of 1,613 yards which was good enough for third best across the college scene and earned him a shot at the Heisman Trophy, only to finish seventh in the voting. His highlight coming in the Sun Bowl where he ran in four touchdowns on way to helping the Cowboys to a thrilling 35-33 comeback victory. Entering the 1988 NFL Draft he had to wait until the second round and the 40th overall pick before the Bills called his name. Thomas would soon fit into the now infamous no-huddle offense and would help his team into four consecutive Super Bowl appearances. Three times he led the AFC rushing league (1990, 1991 and 1993) with 1991 being his best year for overall production with over 2,000 all-purpose yards from scrimmage. This was enough for him to be named League MVP. As good a back he was, Thomas was also creative with his hands out of the backfield. This was never more evident than when he caught 13 catches for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns in a 1989 playoff loss to Cleveland, which was a postseason record at the time for running backs. 

His four Super Bowl appearances were as diverse as his play. The first, Super Bowl XXV, was his best with 135 rushing yards, and 55 yards receiving. If Scott Norwood had been able to convert the last gasp field goal, he would have been certain to get the MVP award for the game. His performances weren’t as good in the next three title games as he was limited to just 69 yards rushing combined. Thomas entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame at the second time of asking in 2007, after not quite making it in his first year of eligibility in 2006.

Fred Taylor was drafted by the Jaguars with their first round pick in 1998, 9th overall. Born in Pakohee, Florida he attended Glades Central High School and excelled at all sports, but football was his backbone and in his senior year ran for 1,700 yards and 22 touchdowns. This was enough to earn him a place at the University of Florida, and he excelled under the tutelage of Steve Spurrier. In 1996 he was part of the 12-1 Gators team that won the National Championship. The following year he was the team’s top back with 1,292 yards and 13 trips to the end zone. A successful rookie year for the Jaguars saw him play 15 games and gain 1,223 yards on the ground, scoring 14 times. A hamstring injury cut short his second year but such was Taylor’s toughness he bounced back with a 12 touchdown, 1,399 yards year. His best season was in 2003 when despite missing the last two games with injury he managed to total 1,572 yards rushing and another 370 through the air. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snjdc5z4v5E In his 11 seasons with the Jaguars Taylor ran in 62 touchdowns, and had another 8 receiving scores. He left the Jaguars for New England but after two unproductive years there he signed a one day contract with the Jags in September of 2011 so he could retire with the team that drafted him. In June 2012 he was the second ever player inducted into the Pride of the Jaguars.


NFL International Series Game 13: The Best Ever…RBs

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