Hi 81 / Lo 61
|Volume 68, Issue 46,
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Smith breaks record with longevity, not 'Sweetness'
The Longest Yard
Stuart H. Clements
With 16,743 yards, Dallas Cowboys' star running back Emmitt Smith claimed what is arguably the most prestigious record in all of football: the NFL all-time rushing record.
The family of the previous record-holder, the late Walter Payton, watched Smith break the record at Sunday's game. The only thing that went wrong was that the Cowboys lost the big game against the Seattle Seahawks, 17-14.
Before Sunday's game, the Seahawks had the worst rated defense in the NFL, but the defense held America's team scoreless through the first half.
With the final moments of the fourth quarter winding down, the Seahawks drove into field goal range to break a 14-14 tie and put a damper on the Cowboys' day.
All-time greatest running backs
In the spirit of Smith's breaking the all-time rushing record, it's time for this writer to make his obligatory list of best running backs in NFL history. After all, everyone else has. Here's the top five:
1.) Walter Payton — Payton was the most determined running back ever to step on the field. He held the all-time rushing record for years until Sunday. "Sweetness" was rough, tough and broke tackles merely with leg strength. No one will ever get this good.
2.) Barry Sanders — Sanders had all the talent and the gifts necessary to break almost any rushing record out there. He could make cuts like nobody's business, and if it weren't for his early retirement from the Detroit Lions, we'd be cheering him, not Smith, for having the all-time record.
3.) Emmitt Smith — Longevity has been the key to Smith's success. In his 13-year career with the Dallas Cowboys, he's never had any serious injury and has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 12 of the 13 seasons. His work was validated with his success Sunday in taking the record.
4.) Jim Brown — Every running back needs to be strong, but Brown had strength, speed and determination. Those three tools alone were enough to put him in the top five.
5.) O.J. Simpson — Aside from Gayle Sayers, Simpson was arguably the fastest running back ever to play the game. Sayers' career was cut short with knee injuries, so he never really got the opportunity to prove his worth. Conversely, Simpson was able to prove his speed. He wouldn't have to dodge much or make cuts; he'd just blow by the defense.
Games in Texas this week were defined by the last minute field goal. Dallas lost because of a fourth-quarter field goal, while the Houston Texans finally picked up their second win of the season on a field goal, defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars, 21-19.
The win gives the Texans some momentum going into their next game against the 0-7 Cincinnati Bengals. It will give the Texans an opportunity to embarrass the only winless team in the NFL.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Bengals head coach Dick LeBeauhad guaranteed a victory against the Texans. Those are pretty big words from a team that's started a season 0-7 four times since 1991.
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