NFL Bruisers: Bettis, Jacobs, and the Most Crushing Runs of the Past Decade
Every fan loves to see his team's running back break off a huge run, scoring touchdowns on 75-yard scampers while dodging tacklers.
Though such plays can be fun to watch, there is something truly satisfying when the running back knocks a defender out of his shoes, even for a short gain.
In their primes, guys like Brandon Jacobs and Jerome Bettis struck fear into the hearts of even the most hardened defenders.
These pounders give no quarter, and any defender unfortunate enough to face them in a game can count on having his head rattled at least once.
Here, we will examine some running plays that take the concept of "hard hitting" being a defensive highlight and knock it on its back. Quite literally.
(Note, I don't own any of the footage in this slideshow)
11. Eddie George Takes on Ray Lewis
Back in the 2003 AFC Wild Card round, something happened that Ray Lewis isn't exactly used to: he got knocked on his back.
Leave it to Lewis to take a smashing stiff arm from a running back and still take the guy down though.
This run wasn't exactly 'bruising', but the fact of the matter is that at the end of the play, Lewis was on the turf, and on that merit alone Eddie George deserves a spot on this list.
10. Michael Robinson Goes Eagle Hunting
Michael Robinson and the 49ers needed a touchdown. Brian Dawkins wanted to stop them. Was that a smart idea on his part? It certainly wouldn't appear that way. Looks like Weapon X just got served.
9. Peyton Hillis Shows Some True Grit
Lets face the facts: until very recently, Peyton Hillis never got much respect. A slightly undersized fullback/halfback hybrid from Arkansas who shared his college backfield with Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, nobody was expecting great things from this quiet seventh-round pick.
Well he has obviously proved his doubters wrong after making a splash in 2010 with the Cleveland Browns, but anyone who was paying attention when he was a Denver Bronco knew that was coming. The guy has some serious grit. He's not flashy, but he is a bull when he gets the touch.
Bernard Pollard found this out much to his dismay. Looks like he probably spent some time with an ice pack after this one.
8. Urlacher Gets Thrown Under the Bus
Like Eddie George's highlight, this run does not necessarily showcase a bone-crunching hit. What it does show however, is one of the best power running backs ever, running over one of the best linebackers of this generation.
Somebody get the license plate number of that bus!
7. Runaway Train
The big running backs just love to abuse Urlacher, don't they? The Bears linebacker just can't catch a break in this slideshow. In this preseason game, Jacobs showed everyone why he was ready for the big time, in a big way.
This was supposed to be an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object...but instead it was just an object. Sorry Brian.
6. Hillis Strikes Again
When Peyton Hillis got the starting nod for the Browns in 2010, many people were left scratching their heads. A number of defenders around the league were quoted trash-talking about Hillis and how he wouldn't be able to run on them.
Then this game happened. What you see above is Peyton Hillis scoring his THIRD touchdwon of the first half in the Browns-Panthers game during the 2010 regular season. Think anyone was talking smack about No. 40 after this play?
If they were, it definitely was not to his face.
5. Takeo Spikes Gets Hit by a 'Blount' Object
The Bucs' young rookie free agent LeGarrete Blount went unheralded this year, largely due to supposed 'character issues' pertaining to his anger and aggression. Last time I checked, those were very good football attributes.
If you don't agree with me, ask Takeo Spikes. He did not look like he enjoyed this play too much.
4. Charles Woodson Gets the Cold Shoulder
In what became known as Ice Bowl II, the Giants and Packers played a brutal and hard-fought NFC Championship game in sub-zero conditions.
Even more brutal than the harsh temperature and unforgiving wind though, was the hit that Brandon Jacobs laid down on Charles Woodson during this play. Given how cold it was, this one HAD to hurt.
Was that Jacobs or the abominable snowman?
3. 'AP' Goes All out
Okay, okay, I know that this was technically a passing play, but it's still Adrian Peterson with the ball, so let's call it a run.
We know that AP can do it all: speed, power, agility, you name it, he's got it. It seems that William Gay forgot all these things when he got in Peterson's way. No need for anyone to say I told you so, I think dear William learned his lesson thoroughly on this one.
I mean, come on, not only did he get trucked, he got trampled too. That is just sad.
2. for Whom Mike Bell Tolls
Lyrical alliteration aside, you have to feel bad for the Lion defender on this play. Not only does he get nailed by the third-string running back, but he gets hit from behind by his own teammate as he goes down, and THEN one of the offensive linemen trips over him. Talk about a bad day.
After this encounter with Mike Bell, I bet his ears were ringing.
1. He Might Be a Giant
He's at it again folks: Brandon Jacobs, the serial killer of defenders. They might as well call him IHOP.
Bad puns aside, there's a reason this man has three highlights on this list. Jacobs only has two real settings: truck defenders, and no gain. When he's on his game, it is very hard to stop him, and that's all there is to it. Look at LaRon Landry on the replay...he doesn't look like he has all of his senses back even after Jacobs goes down.
That's what happens when a 217-lb. defensive back tries to tackle a 265-lb. running back.
Honorable Mention: Beast Mode
This highlight doesn't really showcase a crushing run, but I cant help it. This was one of the most exciting runs I've ever witnessed, and deserves an honorable mention. Plus, that stiff arm was pretty sweet, wasn't it?
This play was crushing in another sense anyway: It crushed the Saints' hope of being repeat Super Bowl champions.