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Longest Streaks Without Allowing a 100-Yard Rusher

Taylor was a Rams killer

Taylor was a Rams killer.

Last year, I looked at the longest streaks by teams without producing a 100-yard rusher. Today, the reverse: the run defenses that didn’t allow any opposing backs to hit the century mark week after week, year after year (note: all streaks are regular season only, unless otherwise specified). Two teams have gone 50+ straight games without allowing an opposing player to hit 100 rushing yards, and neither defense will surprise you.

The Fearsome Foursome Rams of Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones fame went 51 straight weeks without allowing a 100-yard rusher. In the final week of the 1964 season, Jim Taylor rushed 17 times for 165 yards against the Rams (he also picked up 56 receiving yards). Over the next three years, no opponent rushed for over 100 yards against Los Angeles. That held true for the first nine weeks of the 1968 season, too, until San Francisco’s Ken Willard broke that mark with a 128-yard performance. That was the only time from 1965 through 1968 that the Rams allowed a 100-yard rusher. Incredibly, there was a stretch of 93 games where the Rams allowed a 100-yard back just five times… and three of them came at the feet of Jim Taylor!1

In 1989, Gerald Riggs, then with Washington, rushed for an incredible 221 yards yards in week two against Philadelphia. That was noteworthy, because for the next 53 games, no opponent rushed for 100 yards against Reggie White, Jerome Brown, and the Philadelphia Eagles defense. We know how dominant the 1991 defense was, but the rush defense was pretty stringy in the surrounding years, too. It wasn’t until Emmitt Smith broke through with a 30-carry, 163-yard day in November 1992 that the streak was snapped.

The third longest streak belongs to the 1998-2001 Ravens: after allowing Chicago’s James Allen to record 163 rushing yards in week 16 of the ’98 season, no back rushed for 100 yards against Baltimore for 46 straight games. The streak-snapper? Corey Dillon, in week 15 of the ’01 season, in a game where the Bengals were shut out.

No active streak can really compare. The 49ers were the only team in 2013 not to allow a single 100-yard rusher, but Marshawn Lynch rushed for 111 yards in week 16 of the 2012 season, so the streak is only at 17 games. Lynch also rushed for 109 yards against San Francisco in the last time the 49ers took the field: the NFC Championship Game.2 Carolina allowed C.J. Spiller to rush for 103 yards in week two of the 2013 season, but the Panthers shut the door on opponents in the final 14 games of the year. The Cardinals and Ravens are tied for the third-longest active streak at 10 games, and the Jaguars is in fifth place at 9 consecutive games.

RkTeamYr EndedWkStreak OppBoxscoreRunner
1PHI1992853DALBoxscoreEmmitt Smith
2RAM1968951SFOBoxscoreKen Willard
3BAL20011446CINBoxscoreCorey Dillon
4BAL1972345SDGBoxscoreMike Garrett
4STL1969645NORBoxscoreTony Baker
6DAL1976244BALBoxscoreLydell Mitchell
7RAM1975342SDGBoxscoreDon Woods
8BAL2009439CINBoxscoreCedric Benson
9MIA1973938BUFBoxscoreO.J. Simpson
9MIN19881538CHIBoxscoreNeal Anderson
11MIN20091436CARBoxscoreJonathan Stewart
11SFO1991536ATLBoxscoreSteve Broussard
11SFO20111536SEABoxscoreMarshawn Lynch
14DET1970335WASBoxscoreLarry Brown Jr.
15SDG1995734SEABoxscoreChris Warren
16SFO1968733CLEBoxscoreLeroy Kelly
17BUF1966132KANBoxscoreBert Coan
17PIT20091532BALBoxscoreRay Rice
19CHI1988830NWEBoxscoreJohn Stephens
19PIT20071030NYJBoxscoreThomas Jones
21BOS1965229DENBoxscoreCookie Gilchrist
21HOU19701129CLEBoxscoreLeroy Kelly
23NYJ19801228RAMBoxscoreElvis Peacock
24MIN20061627STLBoxscoreSteven Jackson
24PHI19681027CLEBoxscoreLeroy Kelly
24RAM1971827DETBoxscoreAltie Taylor
27GNB19671026CHIBoxscoreGale Sayers
27GNB19711026NORBoxscoreBob Gresham
27HOU1981826CINBoxscorePete Johnson
27SDG1999826DENBoxscoreOlandis Gary
31DEN1974725OAKBoxscoreMarv Hubbard
31NWE1980125ATLBoxscoreWilliam Andrews
31NYG1987325WASBoxscoreLionel Vital

You’re not seeing triple: nobody broke two 25+ game streaks, but Cleveland’s Leroy Kelly broke three such streaks over his Hall of Fame career.

  1. In addition to Willard, Baltimore’s Tom Matte also accomplished that feat. And Matte did put up a 99-yard performance in 1965 against LA, too. By 1969, the Rams were positively pedestrian against the run by their standards, allowing both Gale Sayers and Tom Woodeshick to hit the 100-yard mark. Then nobody did it again for 27 games. []
  2. In fact, over the last four years, including playoffs, Lynch has 4 of the 7 100-yard rushing games allowed by the 49ers. []
  • Positively pedestrian… I love it.

  • John

    Baltimore’s 2001 & 2009 streaks involved different defensive coordinators, different defensive schemes, and completely different rosters except one particular player that bridged both teams together. Ray Lewis.

  • Chase Stuart
    • When I lived in Minnesota, the Vikings were just a horrible team to watch. They ran the ball non-stop with a boom-and-bust running back and couldn’t defend the pass at all. (Admittedly, there was one season when they could in fact throw the ball themselves, however.)

      But nobody could run on them. They had that. And they REALLY had that.

    • Richie

      Crazy Vikings stat: From week 5 of the 2005 seasons until week 7 of the 2010 season — i.e., just over 5 full years and covering 81 games — Minnesota allowed just 3 100-yard rushers: Steven Jackson, Ryan Grant, and Jonathan Stewart.

      …and then 7 weeks later they allowed two 100+ yard rushers in the same game! (Jacobs and Bradshaw)

  • Richie

    I don’t recall seeing any kind of breakdown as to whether rushing for 100+ yards with one player is any more valuable to an offense than having 2 guys combine for 100+ yards.

    I assume the main thing is that 100 yards is a nice breaking point for an in-game accomplishment, and we don’t have the same subconscious rating for team production. I count 4,542 times that a single player rushed for 1,000+ yards in a game since the merger. The similar team rushing yardage is 158 yards. There have been 4,443 times that a team rushed for 158+ yards in a game.

    So – how much would the list above change if you used 158 TEAM rushing yards, instead of 100 INDIVIDUAL rushing yards? Is that a tough query? Basically, I’m just curious if any of these teams “cheaped out” by allowing 80 rushing yards to two different guys, instead of 100 to one guy.

    • Richie

      Looks like the Eagles had a game in the beginning of 1991 where they allowed Earnest Byner to rush for 95 yards AND Gerald Riggs rushed for 70 in the same game.

  • anonymous

    The 87 Giants deserve an asterisk, as the 100 yds from Lionel Vital came in a “replacement” (scab) game. When the regulars returned, the Giants went seven more games without allowing a 100-yd rusher till Stump Mitchell ran for 111. Subtracting one replacement game included in the streak, they should be credited with 31 “real” games.

  • Richie

    Chase, I hope my post didn’t come off as negative towards your article. That was not my intent. I found this post interesting. It’s just so often, when I read you analyses, I always end up thinking “that is cool, and it makes me wonder about [x]”.

    • Chase Stuart

      Not at all. Yesterday was a very busy work day for me, which is becoming a theme; as a result, I’m having less time to reply to the comments, although I so read them all. Yours are always appreciated.

  • Wavylayz

    You missed the biggest streak on your own chart. From 2005 to 2009 the Steelers allowing 1 rusher of 100+ yards in 61 games. 2 in 62. I knew you missed that one from memory because those streaks are consecutive. But you didnt look close enough.