DeMarco Murray's Record Setting Day Put In Context

Following his breakout performance against the St. Louis Rams, DeMarco Murray has been the topic of many conversations. Both nationally and within the Cowboys kingdom, fans and writers alike are mitigating Murray's resounding performance by indicating that it was done against a Rams defense that really doesn't resemble a professional unit at the moment.

253 yards on 25 carries is an amazing afternoon, regardless of who lines up on the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. Good enough for the top spot in Cowboys lore, Murray's performance ranks ninth in the history of the entire National Football League. The question I sought an answer for was the following; if we discount Murray's performance because of the competition, then what kind of competition did the other guys in the Top 10 all time have to navigate through.

The Top 10 of single-game rushing totals has a fair share of Hall Of Famers, great backs and a couple "who"s? Adrian Peterson's 296 yards against the Chargers in 2007 sets the pace, but there are a couple names some might be surprised to see. We'll also compare Murray's day to the man who's team record he broke on Sunday, Emmitt Smith. Smith's 237 yards ranks tied for 16th.

Follow the jump for a bit of NFL rushing history, with a little added context.

Stats gathered from Pro-Football-Reference.com and NFL.com

All-Time Rank Player (age) Yds Opponent/Date Opponent Run Defense Rank for Year Facts On Opponents Rush Defense
1 Adrian Peterson (22) 296 Minnesota Vikings vs. San Diego Chargers, November 4, 2007 15th The Vikings ran for a total of 378 yards on 43 carries in this game against the Chargers, who ended the season 11-5 and made it to the AFC Championship game. The Chargers never again allowed over 150 yards in a single game, but did allow over 100 yards rushing in 9 of their 19 games that season.
2 Jamal Lewis 295 Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns, September 14, 2003 22nd The Ravens ran for 343 yards on 41 carries against the Browns on this day, a defense coordinated by Dave Campo. The Browns would also give up 228 yards on the ground to San Diego, 276 to the Ravens later that year, and over 100 yards in five add'l contests that season.
3 Jerome Harrison (26) 286 Cleveland Browns vs. Kansas City Chiefs, December 20, 2009 31st The Browns amassed 351 yards ib 49 carries in a shootout against the Chiefs, winning the game with only 66 yards passing, 41-34. The Cheifs were horrid against the run, giving up 245 rush yards to the Broncos, 200 to Buffalo, 198 to Baltimore, 182 to Oakland and an astounding seven other 100 yard games to their opponents
4 Corey Dillon 278 Cincinnati Bengals vs. Denver Broncos, October 22, 2000 7th The Bengals racked up 407 yards on 37 carries against the Broncos in this game. Denver would also give up 264 yards to the Chiefs, but not muchelse on the season. 12 games with less than 100 yards surrendered on the ground, including six contests relinquishing less than 50 yards.
5 Walter Payton+ 275 Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings, November 20, 1977 21st (out of 28) The Bears racked up 343 yards, but took a mind boggling 63 rushing attempts against the Vikes. Despite making it to the NFC Championship game that year, a loss to Dallas, the Vikes couldn't stop anyone on the ground. 316 to the Cards, 283 to the Rams, 196 to the 49ers. 16 games on the season, only four where they held the opponent to under 100 yards.
6 O.J. Simpson+ 273 Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions, November 25, 1976 9th of 28 OJ led a really bad Buffalo team to 307 yards on 41 carries against Detroit. The Lions also gave up 212 yards to the Pack and 196 to the Giants. Allowed over 100 yards rushing in 9 of their 14 games.
7 Shaun Alexander 266 Seattle Seahawks vs. Oakland Raiders, November 11, 2001 6th Seattle gained 319 yards on 42 carries against their then division rival Raiders. Oakland made it to a divisional playoff game that year, but didn't stop the run very often. 204 yards to the Chiefs was accompanied by another 10 with over 100 rushing yards against, for 12 out of 18 games.
8 Jamaal Charles (23) 259 Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos, January 3, 2010 31st The Cheifs tallied 317 yards on 35 totes, in a Week 17 win against a Denver team that was mailing in their season, losing their last 4 after being 8-4. The Broncos hadn't given up 100 yards on the ground through their Week 7 bye, but did 7 times in their last 10 games, including 241 to Oakland and 203 to the Chargers.
9 DeMarco Murray (23) 253 Dallas Cowboys vs. St. Louis Rams, October 23, 2011 32nd Dallas gained 294 rushing yards on 34 carries against the hapless Rams. To this point of the season, St. Louis has given up the following rushing totals: 236, 119, 168, 196, 90, 294.
10 Mike Anderson 251 Denver Broncos vs. New Orleans Saints, December 3, 2000 10th Denver gained 283 yards on 49 carries against the Saints, who made it to a divisional playoff game that year. The Saints run D was up and down that season, holding three teams under 35 yards on the ground, including only 10 to the Carolina Panthers in week 7. They also gave 246 to the Rams and five other games of 100 or more rushing yards.
           
16(t) Emmitt Smith 237 Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles, October 31, 1993 24th out of 28 The Cowboys rolled up 271 yards on 39 carries against the Eagles, setting the previous Cowboys mark. Philly was in the midst of a horrible stretch of Run D, giving up 210 to the Giants the week prior, and 243 to the Cardinals the week after. 11 games total with their opponent surpassing the 100 yard barrier
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