With a 200-yard performance in Week 17, Washington Redskins running back Alfred Morris has vaulted himself into the second position on the NFL rushing yardage leaderboard. The most productive rookie rusher this season only trailed the great Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings (2,097 yards) for the 2012 rushing title.
Peterson fell only nine yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record (2,105).
Still, Morris ran for more yards in 2012 than anyone did in 2011. Maurice Jones-Drew led the league last year with 1,606 while Morris ran for 1,613 in this, his inaugural season.
Morris’ first NFL campaign resulted in the 48th-most prolific season in terms of rushing yardage, edging Walter Payton’s 1979 season in which the Chicago Bears legend rushed for 1,610 yards. It fell just shy of Kansas City Chiefs great Priest Holmes’ 1,615 rushing yards in 2002, as well as Houston Texans RB Arian Foster’s breakout 2010 season (1,616).
Only two rookies have covered more ground in their debut seasons than Morris, according to ESPN. Dickerson did it (1,808 yards) in 1983 with the Los Angeles Rams; George Rogers (1,674) did it with the New Orleans Saints in 1981.
Most rushing yds by rookie in season Eric Dickerson (1983 Rams) 1,808, George Rogers (1981 Saints) 1,674, Alfred Morris (2012) 1,613— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 31, 2012
Morris was born in 1988.
A “rookie wall” was no hindrance to Morris—his team relied on him more as the season wore on. After taking 20 or more carries just three times in his first nine games and catching five total passes, the downhill runner carried the ball 20-plus times every time out in his last seven appearances.
He also caught six passes during that time.
Similar to the way he finishes games, Morris seemed to get stronger as the season wore on. His most productive game came in the last regular-season contest against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 17. The rookie carried the ball 33 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns—all career highs.
For more NFL analysis, follow Jamal on Twitter: Follow @StatManJ
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!