List of NFL annual rushing yards leaders

(Redirected from NFL rushing champions)

In American football, rushing and passing are the two main methods of advancing the ball down the field.[1] A rush, also known as a running play, generally occurs when the quarterback hands or tosses the ball backwards to the running back,[2] but other players, such as the quarterback, can run with the ball.[1] In the National Football League (NFL), the player who has recorded the most rushing yards for a season is considered the winner of the rushing title for that season.[3] In addition to the NFL rushing champion, league record books recognize the rushing champions of the American Football League (AFL), which operated from 1960 to 1969 before being absorbed into the National Football League in 1970.[4]

Jim Brown, wearing a jacket, poses for a picture.
Jim Brown led the league in rushing for eight seasons, including five consecutive seasons from 1957 to 1961 and three consecutive seasons from 1963 to 1965

The NFL did not begin keeping official records until the 1932 season.[5] Since the adoption of the 14-game season in 1961, all but one rushing champion have recorded over 1,000 yards rushing. Eight rushing champions have recorded over 2,000 rushing yards, a feat first accomplished by O. J. Simpson in 1973 and most recently achieved by Derrick Henry in 2020. [6]

The player with the most rushing titles is Jim Brown, who was the rushing champion eight times over his career. Eric Dickerson, Emmitt Smith, O. J. Simpson, Steve Van Buren, and Barry Sanders are tied for the second-most rushing titles, each having won four times. Jim Brown also holds the record for the most consecutive rushing titles with five, having led the league in rushing each year from 1957 to 1961. Steve Van Buren, Emmitt Smith, and Earl Campbell each recorded three consecutive rushing titles. The Cleveland Browns have recorded the most rushing titles with eleven; the Dallas Cowboys rank second, with seven rushing titles. The most recent rushing champion is Christian McCaffrey of the San Francisco 49ers, who led the league with 1,459 rushing yards during the 2023 season. Derrick Henry is the most recent player to win back-to-back titles.[7]

In 2022 the NFL announced, "To permanently honor the impact of Jim Brown in the NFL, the player with the most rushing yards each season will be presented with the "Jim Brown Award".[8] Josh Jacobs was the inaugural recipient.

List of NFL rushing title winners

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Byron "Whizzer" White, a future associate justice of the US Supreme Court, won the league rushing title in 1938 and 1940
 
Gale Sayers led the NFL in rushing in 1966 and 1969
 
Eric Dickerson led the league in rushing in 1983 and 1984, his first two seasons in the league, and won two more titles in 1986 and 1988
 
Emmitt Smith was the league's rushing champion four times, including three consecutive years from 1991 to 1993
 
LaDainian Tomlinson won back-to-back rushing titles in 2006 and 2007
 
Adrian Peterson led the league in rushing three times in the 2008, 2012, and 2015 seasons
 
Derrick Henry won back-to-back rushing titles in 2019 and 2020, and is the most recent player to do so
Key
^ Pro Football Hall of Fame member
* Player is active
Player won the AP Most Valuable Player award in the same year
Player won the AP Offensive Player of the Year award in the same year
National Football League (NFL) rushing title winners by season[9]
Season Winner Team Yards Games[A]
1932 Cliff Battles^ Boston Braves 576 10[B]
1933 Jim Musick Boston Redskins 809 12[C]
1934 Beattie Feathers Chicago Bears 1,004 13[D]
1935 Doug Russell Chicago Cardinals 499 12
1936 Tuffy Leemans New York Giants 830 12
1937 Cliff Battles^ (2) Washington Redskins 874 11
1938 Byron White Pittsburgh Pirates 567 11
1939 Bill Osmanski Chicago Bears 699 11
1940 Byron White (2) Detroit Lions 514 11
1941 Pug Manders Brooklyn Dodgers 486 11
1942 Bill Dudley^ Pittsburgh Steelers 696 11
1943 Bill Paschal New York Giants 572 10
1944 Bill Paschal (2) New York Giants 737 10
1945 Steve Van Buren^ Philadelphia Eagles 832 10
1946 Bill Dudley^ (2) Pittsburgh Steelers 604 11
1947 Steve Van Buren^ (2) Philadelphia Eagles 1,008 12
1948 Steve Van Buren^ (3) Philadelphia Eagles 945 12
1949 Steve Van Buren^ (4) Philadelphia Eagles 1,146 12
1950 Marion Motley^ Cleveland Browns 810 12
1951 Eddie Price New York Giants 971 12
1952 Dan Towler Los Angeles Rams 894 12
1953 Joe Perry^ San Francisco 49ers 1,018 12
1954 Joe Perry^ (2) San Francisco 49ers 1,049 12
1955 Alan Ameche Baltimore Colts 961 12
1956 Rick Casares Chicago Bears 1,126 12
1957 Jim Brown^ † Cleveland Browns 942 12
1958 Jim Brown^ † (2) Cleveland Browns 1,527 12
1959 Jim Brown^ (3) Cleveland Browns 1,329 12
1960 Jim Brown^ (4) Cleveland Browns 1,257 12
1961 Jim Brown^ (5) Cleveland Browns 1,408 14
1962 Jim Taylor^ Green Bay Packers 1,474 14
1963 Jim Brown^ (6) Cleveland Browns 1,863 14
1964 Jim Brown^ (7) Cleveland Browns 1,446 14
1965 Jim Brown^ † (8) Cleveland Browns 1,544 14
1966 Gale Sayers^ Chicago Bears 1,231 14
1967 Leroy Kelly^ Cleveland Browns 1,205 14
1968 Leroy Kelly^ (2) Cleveland Browns 1,239 14
1969 Gale Sayers^ (2) Chicago Bears 1,032 14
1970 Larry Brown Washington Redskins 1,125 14
1971 Floyd Little^ Denver Broncos 1,133 14
1972 O. J. Simpson^ Buffalo Bills 1,251 14
1973 O. J. Simpson^ † ‡ (2) Buffalo Bills 2,003 14
1974 Otis Armstrong Denver Broncos 1,407 14
1975 O. J. Simpson^ (3) Buffalo Bills 1,817 14
1976 O. J. Simpson^ (4) Buffalo Bills 1,503 14
1977 Walter Payton^ † ‡ Chicago Bears 1,852 14
1978 Earl Campbell^ ‡ Houston Oilers 1,450 15
1979 Earl Campbell^ † ‡ (2) Houston Oilers 1,697 16
1980 Earl Campbell^ ‡ (3) Houston Oilers 1,934 15
1981 George Rogers New Orleans Saints 1,674 16
1982 Freeman McNeil New York Jets 786 9[E]
1983 Eric Dickerson^ Los Angeles Rams 1,808 16
1984 Eric Dickerson^ (2) Los Angeles Rams 2,105 16
1985 Marcus Allen^ † ‡ Los Angeles Raiders 1,759 16
1986 Eric Dickerson^ (3) Los Angeles Rams 1,821 16
1987 Charles White Los Angeles Rams 1,374 15[F]
1988 Eric Dickerson^ (4) Indianapolis Colts 1,659 16
1989 Christian Okoye Kansas City Chiefs 1,480 16
1990 Barry Sanders^ Detroit Lions 1,304 16
1991 Emmitt Smith^ Dallas Cowboys 1,563 16
1992 Emmitt Smith^ (2) Dallas Cowboys 1,713 16
1993 Emmitt Smith^ † (3) Dallas Cowboys 1,486 14
1994 Barry Sanders^ ‡ (2) Detroit Lions 1,883 16
1995 Emmitt Smith^ (4) Dallas Cowboys 1,773 16
1996 Barry Sanders^ (3) Detroit Lions 1,553 16
1997 Barry Sanders^ † ‡ (4) Detroit Lions 2,053 16
1998 Terrell Davis^ † ‡ Denver Broncos 2,008 16
1999 Edgerrin James^ Indianapolis Colts 1,553 16
2000 Edgerrin James^ (2) Indianapolis Colts 1,709 16
2001 Priest Holmes Kansas City Chiefs 1,555 16
2002 Ricky Williams Miami Dolphins 1,853 16
2003 Jamal Lewis Baltimore Ravens 2,066 16
2004 Curtis Martin^ New York Jets 1,697 16
2005 Shaun Alexander† ‡ Seattle Seahawks 1,880 16
2006 LaDainian Tomlinson^ † ‡ San Diego Chargers 1,815 16
2007 LaDainian Tomlinson^ (2) San Diego Chargers 1,474 16
2008 Adrian Peterson Minnesota Vikings 1,760 16
2009 Chris Johnson Tennessee Titans 2,006 16
2010 Arian Foster Houston Texans 1,616 16
2011 Maurice Jones-Drew Jacksonville Jaguars 1,606 16
2012 Adrian Peterson† ‡ (2) Minnesota Vikings 2,097 16
2013 LeSean McCoy Philadelphia Eagles 1,607 16
2014 DeMarco Murray Dallas Cowboys 1,845 16
2015 Adrian Peterson (3) Minnesota Vikings 1,485 16
2016 Ezekiel Elliott* Dallas Cowboys 1,631 15
2017 Kareem Hunt* Kansas City Chiefs 1,327 16
2018 Ezekiel Elliott* (2) Dallas Cowboys 1,434 15
2019 Derrick Henry* Tennessee Titans 1,540 15
2020 Derrick Henry* (2) Tennessee Titans 2,027 16
2021 Jonathan Taylor* Indianapolis Colts 1,811 17
2022 Josh Jacobs* Las Vegas Raiders 1,653 17
2023 Christian McCaffrey* San Francisco 49ers 1,459 16

List of AFL rushing title winners

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American Football League (AFL) rushing title winners by season[4]
Season Winner Team Yards Games
1960 Abner Haynes Dallas Texans 875 14
1961 Billy Cannon Houston Oilers 948 14
1962 Cookie Gilchrist Buffalo Bills 1,096 14
1963 Clem Daniels Oakland Raiders 1,099 14
1964 Cookie Gilchrist (2) Buffalo Bills 981 14
1965 Paul Lowe San Diego Chargers 1,121 14
1966 Jim Nance Boston Patriots 1,458 14
1967 Jim Nance (2) Boston Patriots 1,216 14
1968 Paul Robinson Cincinnati Bengals 1,023 14
1969 Dickie Post San Diego Chargers 873 14

Most rushing titles

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Count Player Seasons Team(s)
8 Jim Brown 1957–1961, 1963–1965 Cleveland Browns
4 Eric Dickerson 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988 Los Angeles Rams / Indianapolis Colts
Barry Sanders 1990, 1994, 1996, 1997 Detroit Lions
O. J. Simpson 1972, 1973, 1975, 1976 Buffalo Bills
Emmitt Smith 1991–1993, 1995 Dallas Cowboys
Steve Van Buren 1945, 1947–1949 Philadelphia Eagles
3 Earl Campbell 1978–1980 Houston Oilers
Adrian Peterson 2008, 2012, 2015 Minnesota Vikings

See also

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Notes

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  1. ^ The NFL did not have a set number of games for teams to play until the 1935 season, instead setting a minimum.[10]
  2. ^ The Boston Braves played 10 games in a non-standardized season.[11]
  3. ^ The Boston Redskins played 12 games in a non-standardized season.[12]
  4. ^ The Chicago Bears played 13 games in a non-standardized season.[13]
  5. ^ The 1982 season was reduced from 16 to 9 games due to a 57-day players' strike.[14]
  6. ^ The 1987 season was reduced from 16 to 15 games due to a 24-day players' strike.[14]

References

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General
  • "AP MVP Winners". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on March 5, 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  • "AP Offensive Player of the Year Winners". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on March 5, 2013. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  • "Hall of Famers – Alphabetically". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on February 24, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2013.
  • "NFL Players". NFL.com. Archived from the original on January 10, 2010. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
Footnotes
  1. ^ a b "Beginner's Guide to Football". National Football League. Archived from the original on February 16, 2011. Retrieved September 30, 2012.
  2. ^ "The Run". NFL360.com. Archived from the original on December 29, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  3. ^ "Miami's Bush Eyeing NFL Rushing Title". Foxsports.com. August 16, 2012. Archived from the original on November 23, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  4. ^ a b "2012 NFL Record and Fact Book" (PDF). NFL.com. pp. 625–626. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 13, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  5. ^ "NFL's Passer Rating". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on October 3, 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  6. ^ Wyatt, Jim (January 3, 2021). "DH2K: Titans RB Derrick Henry Eclipses 2,000-Yard Mark in Win Over Texans". TennesseeTitans.com. Archived from the original on January 4, 2021. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  7. ^ Gordon, Grant (January 3, 2021). "Titans RB Derrick Henry rushes for 2,000 yards in division-clinching win". NFL.com. Archived from the original on January 5, 2021. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  8. ^ NFL (February 9, 2023). "Josh Jacobs wins FedEx Ground Player of the Year and inaugural Jim Brown Award". nflcommunications.com. NFL. Archived from the original on February 10, 2023. Retrieved February 9, 2023.
  9. ^ "NFL Year-by-Year Rushing Yards Leaders". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on June 12, 2020. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  10. ^ "NFL Regular Season Games Played per Season". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on May 12, 2013. Retrieved June 15, 2013.
  11. ^ "1932 Boston Braves". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on April 5, 2013. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
  12. ^ "1933 Boston Redskins". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on July 16, 2013. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
  13. ^ "1934 Chicago Bears". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on May 31, 2013. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
  14. ^ a b "NFL History by Decade: 1981–1990". NFL.com. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008. Retrieved February 27, 2013.