The Top 10 Runs at the NFL's Midseason Mark
There's nothing sweeter than watching a running back break out for a monster touchdown run—especially when the opposing defense is doing its utmost to stop him.
The NFL is a game of inches, and contests are won and lost in the trenches. More often than not, the men running the ball are lucky to move the pile three or four yards.
Every so often, though, we are treated to bursts of energy and skill from the top runners in the league that cover great distances in the blink of an eye. Here are the most impressive runs we've seen up to this point in the season.
Note: For the sake of this discussion, I'm only including runs that resulted in touchdowns, as they carry the most weight.
10. Trent Richardson's First Career Touchdown Run
Cleveland Browns fans haven't had much to cheer about this season, but Trent Richardson has provided a few brief moments of excitement that portend better days are ahead.
This 32-yard touchdown scamper was one of those moments.
Richardson takes the delayed handoff from fellow rookie Brandon Weeden, follows his blockers up the middle and then uses his superior vision, agility and speed to turn a really good run into a spectacular touchdown.
His ability to shift gears while changing direction is plain to see here (and seriously impressive), and the Cincinnati Bengals defenders were powerless to stop him from achieving his goal.
9. Alfred Morris Gashes the Bucs for a 39-Yard TD
In a matchup between two rookie running backs, Alfred Morris (drafted in the sixth round) stood head and shoulders above Doug Martin (drafted No. 31 overall).
Morris' 39-yard touchdown run right up the middle of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense is more impressive than you might think.
The Bucs feature the No. 1 run defense in the NFL, allowing a scant 3.1 yards per carry. This run here from Morris is the longest run this defense has allowed all year long.
Furthermore, this touchdown run put the Washington Redskins up by a score of 21-3, and it was the last touchdown the Bucs defense allowed in this game. The Redskins went on to win by a score of 24-21—Morris' touchdown being a huge key to their victory.
8. C.J. Spiller Guts the Jets
The Buffalo Bills were destroyed by the New York Jets in this game, but C.J. Spiller's 56-yard touchdown run deserves a spot on this list, regardless.
The thing I love most about Spiller's run here is that he almost got tripped up at the line of scrimmage but still had enough balance and agility to stay on his feet. Then, his pure speed was enough to take him the rest of the way—right up the middle of the Jets defense.
Spiller's run gave the Bills a shot at getting back into this game, as the score was 21-7 after the extra point. Unfortunately, the Jets continued to impose their will on offense, and the game got completely out of hand.
Final score: Jets won 48-28.
7. Maurice Jones-Drew Untouched for Huge TD
Down by a score of 14-3 at halftime to the Indianapolis Colts, the Jacksonville Jaguars took the field in the third quarter needing to make a statement.
Their defense held Andrew Luck and the Colts offense to just one first down, forcing them to punt, and then Maurice Jones-Drew hit them with a 59-yard touchdown run on the next play. Jones-Drew certainly doesn't deserve all the credit for this run, though, as he literally went untouched from the time he took the handoff until he crossed the plane of the end zone.
The big guys up front did a phenomenal job paving a superhighway for their running back.
This play sparked a comeback win for the Jags, too, as they ended up winning this game by a score of 22-17—the team's only victory so far this season.
6. Frank Gore Won't Be Denied
The matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers in Week 1 was highly anticipated, and the two teams engaged in a highly contested battle all game long.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the 49ers were up by a score of 23-15 when Frank Gore stuck a dagger in the heart of the Packers and their fans.
Gore's 23-yard touchdown is tied for the shortest run on this list, but he gets extra marks for going the extra mile and plowing through defenders on his way to the end zone.
The 49ers ended up winning this game by a score of 30-22.
5. Darren McFadden Sets the Tone Early
After Carson Palmer's opening-play interception turned into a quick seven points for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Oakland Raiders were in danger of losing this game before it ever got started.
Darren McFadden made sure that wasn't going to happen.
On the third play of the team's second drive of the game, McFadden gashed the Steelers defense for 64 yards and a touchdown. His offensive line created a nice little crease for him, but the real beauty of this play manifested itself after he got through the initial fray.
First, McFadden juked Ryan Mundy out of his shoes. Then, he outran cornerback Keenan Lewis to get into the end zone.
If not for this run, the Raiders may have fallen into too deep a hole to get out of, considering the way Ben Roethlisberger and his receivers were going in this game. Instead, the Raiders ended up edging the mighty Steelers by a score of 34-31 with a Sebastian Janikowski field goal as time expired.
4. RGIII Turns on the Afterburners
You can't teach speed.
Robert Griffin III's 79-yard touchdown run was a revelation.
Some of the credit for this play goes to Mike and Kyle Shanahan for having the vision to craft a playbook that complements this young man's skills so aptly. This play looked like a pass from the outset, but it was a designed run all the way.
After RGIII got through the fray at the line of scrimmage, his vision and speed took care of the rest.
The scary thing to me about this play is that I could swear he never hit top gear. The best thing about this run is that it was the dagger than sealed the victory for the Washington Redskins over the Minnesota Vikings.
3. Chris Johnson's World-Class Speed Finally Shows Up in 2012
2012 hasn't exactly been a banner year for Chris Johnson and the Tennessee Titans, but perhaps things are changing for the better. The team is now 3-3, having won the last two straight games, and Johnson is finally starting to look like himself again.
This 83-yard touchdown is a perfect example of why CJ2K earned his moniker. To start off, he did a nice job of tapping his feet to find the big hole his offensive line created for him, and then his world-class speed did the rest.
When Johnson is running full stride there isn't a defender in the NFL that can catch him.
The Titans went on to win this game by a score of 35-34, thanks in part to Johnson's resurgent running game.
2. Jamaal Charles Goes 93 Yards to Paydirt
The New Orleans Saints looked to have this game in the bag midway through the third quarter, leading by a score of 24-6.
Then, Jamaal Charles and the Kansas City Chiefs' running game changed things for good.
This is a simple sweep play to the left. There's absolutely nothing complicated or tricky about it.
The Chiefs offensive line and receivers simply sealed off the left side, and Charles used his breakaway speed to scamper untouched for 93 yards and an easy touchdown.
This score sparked a comeback that saw the Chiefs win the game by a score of 27-24 in overtime.
Charles' final line for the game: 33 carries for 233 yards and a touchdown.
1. Reggie Bush Runs Over, Around and Through the Raiders Defense
Reggie Bush would not be denied the end zone on this incredible 23-yard touchdown.
The Oakland Raiders went into halftime with a 10-7 lead, but the third quarter belonged to Bush and the Miami Dolphins. He scored two rushing touchdowns in this game—this one and a 65-yard blast just a few minutes later.
Three Raiders defenders had a chance to trip him up around the line of scrimmage, but Bush kept his feet churning underneath him and kept his balance. Then, Shawntae Spencer had a chance to stop him from scoring, but Bush wouldn't be denied.
The Dolphins went on to dominate the rest of the game, winning by a score of 35-13.
Bush's final broken tackle makes this the sweetest run I've seen so far this season, which is why it's the No. 1 run of the year at the NFL's midseason mark.