Two of a Kind: The Greatest Running-Back Duos in NFL History

Benjamin EdwardsCorrespondent ISeptember 4, 2008



We received a letter this week from “Zebow,“ a reader in Colorado, that asks:

“It seems like the NFL doesn’t have any good running-back tandems anymore. We used to have great pairs all the time. Who do you guys think is the best tandem ever?” 

We compiled a list of our 12 best combos. Tell us what you think.


12. Dalton Hilliard & Craig Heyward - '90s Saints

From ‘88 to ‘92, these guys punished defenses for 4,879 yds. 


11. Kevin Mack & Eric Metcalf - '90s Browns

Mostly known as a kick returner, Metcalf had the starting role for a few years in Cleveland. They amassed 4,034 yards.


10. Tony Dorsett & Herschel Walker - '80s Cowboys

In only two years (’86 & ‘87), these guys racked up 2,832 yards, and while it was never quite the “dream backfield,” as it had been billed to be, it was effective and memorable.


9. Earnest Byner & Gerald Riggs - Late '80s Redskins

These guys won the 1991 Super Bowl and gained 4,402 yards along the way.


8. Ickey Woods & James Brooks - '80s Bengals

While the Ickey Shuffle may have dominated the league for only one season, James Brooks was a very good running back for many years. As a team, they almost beat Joe Montana in the '88 Super Bowl. 5,270 yards and 49 TDs.


7. Christian Okoye & Barry Word - '90s Chiefs

The "Nigerian Nightmare’s" big season was a year before Word joined the team, but as teammates, they ruled in K.C. for three seasons. 4,590 yds and 34 TDs.


6. Warrick Dunn & Mike Alstott - '90s Bucs

These two played together for five seasons and gained 7,805 years in that time. Alstott was unstoppable.


5. Jim Brown & Bobby Mitchell - Early '60s Browns

In four seasons, these guys (mostly Brown) ran for 7,818 yards and surprisingly had a combined 2,453 receiving yards.


4. Larry Csonka & Mercury Morris - '70s Dolphins

1969 to 1974 was a very good time for the fish. Three Super Bowl appearances and a perfect season were made possible by the running game. 8,902 yards in that time along with 66 touchdowns puts these guys way up on this list. And to think that Jim Kiick also rushed for over 3,000 more yards for those early-'70s Dolphins.


3. Bo Jackson & Marcus Allen - '80s Raiders

While I usually try to stay away from the “what might have beens,” it’s impossible when it comes to Bo Jackson. These guys rushed for 5,342 yards in four years. If not for that day against Cincy, these guys may have been No. 1 on the list. Also, Bo Jackson’s impact on Tecmo Bowl is the stuff of legend.


2. Rocky Bleier & Franco Harris - '70s Steelers

Rocky is a war hero; Franco is a Pittsburgh hero. These guys won four Super Bowls in the '70s and a nation of fans. Learn about Rocky’s life. They racked up 13,178 yards and scored 99 touchdowns from 1972-1980.


1. Jim Taylor & Paul Hornung - '60s Packers

These guys are my No. 1 pick because they worked as a team better than any of the other duos. They rushed for 11,989 yards and scored 133 TDs in the years from 1957 to 1966, while winning four championships. The '60s Packers were a team full of good players that Lombardi made into great players.


Who did we leave out? Where did we get the rankings wrong?


Benjamin Edwards is lead writer for