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#22 Emmitt Smith - Running Back 1990-2002


In 15 seasons, Emmitt Smith made an impact on the NFL that few players can match at any position or in any era. As the NFL's all-time rushing leader, Smith won four NFL rushing titles, three Super Bowl titles and a league (1993) and Super Bowl (XXVIII) MVP award. He was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, with only Barry Sanders (10) having been selected more times among NFL running backs.

Smith is the seventh player in NFL history to carry the title of all-time rushing leader, and he is the only player in NFL history to rush for more than 18,000 yards. Smith is also the NFL's career rushing touchdowns leader with 164, and he stands second in league annals in total touchdowns with 175, trailing the all-time leader, Jerry Rice, by 32.

The first player in NFL history with five straight seasons with over 1,400 rushing yards, Smith and Jim Brown are the only players with seven straight 10-touchdown seasons to start their career. With 1,021 yards rushing in 2001, Smith became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in 11 consecutive seasons and the first to post 11 1,000-yard rushing seasons in a career. He is also the NFL's alltime leader in rushing attempts with 4,409. With a then NFL record 25 touchdowns in 1995, Smith scored 100 career touchdowns in just six seasons, the fastest anyone in league history has reached that mark (he tied Brown's NFL record by scoring 100 touchdowns in just 93 career games). His 164 career rushing touchdowns in 226 games gives him a 0.73 touchdown-per-game scoring average, second behind Brown's 0.90 for tops among the all-time rushing touchdown scorers (John Riggins 0.59 and Walter Payton 0.58 are next on the list). Smith's longevity and ability to score touchdowns have combined to give him three of the five best touchdown totals against a single opponent in league history. His 25 career scores against the Arizona Cardinals is the third best total by a player against an opponent since 1970, followed by his 24 scores against Washington and his 23 against the N.Y Giants.

Smith is one of only three players in Cowboys history with three career 100-point seasons, and he is the only non-kicker to accomplish the feat. His value to his team's success can be seen in the clubs' 101-26 mark (93-24 in regular season) when he carried the ball 20-or-more times a game and 65-18 record (58-18 in regular season) when he rushed for 100 yards. The century mark became a big number in Smith's career, having rushed for 100 yards in 155-of-326 games dating back to high school (45-of-49 at Escambia High School, 25-of-34 at Florida, 81-of-202 at Dallas, including playoffs, and two-of-25 at Arizona). His 45 100-yard games in high school is still the national record, and in NFL annals, Smith's 78 100-yard rushing games makes him the NFL's all-time leader - just ahead of Payton (77) and Sanders (76). Included in Smith's leaguerecord 78 regular season 100-yard rushing games are 18 days with over 150 yards (the fourth highest total of 150-yard games in NFL history).

Smith has rushed for over 100-yards against 23 of the 33 NFL teams he faced. In addition, he rushed for 2,466 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles in his 15- year career, his best output against any single opponent. That total ranks second since 1970 for running backs against one team. Smith also has the third and fifth best totals in that category.

One reason Smith was such a workhorse over the years was his ability to answer the bell at game time, having started 236-of-243 career games - including playoffs. He missed just 11 career games due to injury. Smith also accumulated a number of NFL postseason records, including rushing touchdowns (19), consecutive games with a rushing touchdown (nine) and 100-yard rushing games (seven). His 1,586 yards rushing is also tops on the NFL postseason chart, and he shares the total playoff touchdown mark of 21 with Thurman Thomas. Smith is one of only five NFL players who have amassed over 10,000 career-rushing yards and 400 career receptions. He is also second on the NFL's all-time total yards from scrimmage list with 21,579 yards. 2004: Smith - who finished 2003 as a reserve - started the 2004 season at the Cardinals starting running back and accounted for 937 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 267 carries. His 267 carries marked his highest total since 2000 and his nine touchdowns were his highest total since scoring 11 times in 1999. He also caught 15 passes for 105 yards for Arizona. He opened the season at St. Louis (9/12) with 87 rushing yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. He recorded his 49th one-yard touchdown run against New England (9/19), then totaled 45 yards on 18 carries and 11 yards on two catches at Atlanta (9/26). He posted his best game as a Cardinal the following week against New Orleans (10/3), totaling 127 rushing yards on 21 carries (6.0 avg.), including a 29-yard socring jaunt (his longest as a Cardinal). The Saints game marked his 77th career regular season 100-yard rushing game, tying Payton for the most in NFL history.

The last NFL player to eclipse the 100-yard mark in a game after his 35th birthday was Marcus Allen for Kansas City at Cleveland on Dec. 3, 1994. Smith also completed his first career pass against New Orleans, tossing a 21-yard scoring strike to fullback Obafemi Ayanbadejo. Smith carried the ball 16 times for 63 yards and a touchdown at San Francisco (10/10), then broke Payton's record for career 100-yard rushing games when he totaled 106 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries against Seattle (10/24) He also added four catches for 30 yards, allowing him to become only the fourth player in NFL history to eclipse the 21,000-combined yards mark. At Buffalo, he accounted for 64 yards on 22 carries. After rushing 19 times for 42 yards and a score at Miami (11/7), he totaled 67 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries against the N.Y. Giants (11/14) to become the only player in NFL history to eclipse the 18,000 career rushing yard mark.

He was hampered with a toe injury at Carolina (11/21) and against the N.Y. Jets (11/28) before missing the game at Detroit (12/5) due to the toe problem. He returned to action against San Francisco (12/12) and carried the ball 18 times for 53 yards and a score. A week later, he totaled 71 yards on 19 carries and 24 yards on two receptions against St. Louis (12/19). He recorded 65 yards on 23 carries at Seattle (12/26) before closing out the season with 69 yards on 23 carries and 13 yards on two catches against Tampa Bay (1/2/05).