NFL: The 22 Best Running Back Duos of All Time

Tony SantorsaSenior Writer IIJuly 7, 2011

NFL: The 22 Best Running Back Duos of All Time

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    Over the many years of the National Football League, there has been a share of dominating rushing attacks, whether it's an elite running back like Barry Sanders or it's a pair of two extremely effective running backs.

    The most intriguing rushing attack is when there are two players that are sometimes just as effective as each other—and defenses have a feel hard time defending them. 

    Here are the 22 best running back duos in NFL history.

    Keep in mind that the league has changed over the years, and that nowadays, more and more teams are splitting the carries among two quality running backs. 

     

    This article was first seen at PatriotsPlus.net. Be sure to follow Tony Santorsa on Twitter @     TonySantorsa.    

22. Garrison Hearst and Terry Kirby

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    Garrison Hearst and Terry Kirby were a pair of solid running backs for the San Francisco 49ers during the late 1990s. 

    Hearst usually was the lead running back as Kirby was used in situations as a change-of-pace running back. 

21. Michael Bennett and Moe Williams

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    Michael Bennett and Moe Williams are one of the most unknown pair of running backs to ever play the game—as the success days of their career were short-lived.

    However, when Bennett and Williams are at their best, during the early 2000s, they were quite the two-headed monster backfield for the Minnesota Vikings. 

20. Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport

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    From 2002-2005, Ahman Green and Najeh Davenport were quite the running back tandem for the Green Bay Packers.

    Both averaged well over 4.0 yards per carry during their Green Bay careers and piled up the touchdowns as they both combined for a massive 61 total touchdowns. 

19. Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor

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    Adrian Peterson's and Chester Taylor's time together were short-lived, as Taylor left via free agency, but they were one of the great two-headed monster backfields to ever play the game. 

    Many will overlook Taylor's solid production, as Peterson emerged as one of the NFL's top running backs, but when Peterson was on the sidelines, Taylor certainly didn't harm Minnesota's offensive attack. 

18. O.J. Simspon and Jim Braxton

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    O.J. Simpson and Jim Braxton created one of the greatest rushing attacks in NFL history. 

    Braxton spent most of his solid NFL career lead-blocking for Simpson, however, when he was able to carry the ball, he averaged a rather impressive 3.9 yards per-carry. 

17. Jerome Bettis and Duce Staley

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    Everyone is well aware of Jerome "The Bus" Bettis, but some people may forget about how effective Duce Staley really was. 

    During the 2004 Pittsburgh Steelers' 15-1 season, Bettis ran for a solid 941 yards as Staley chipped in for 830 yards. Both players were obvious keys to the Steelers' major success in '04. 

16. Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett

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    Warrick Dunn was at the end of his career when he played with T.J. Duckett, but they were the prime example of "thunder and lightning" out of the backfield.

    Dunn was used most of the time, as he was a playmaking runner, but whenever the Atlanta Falcons were in a short-yardage situation, they called upon the massive Duckett. 

15. Essex Johnson and Boobie Clark

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    Cincinnati Bengals' Essex Johnson and Boobie Clark were near misses to join the two 1,000-yard rushers club as they fell just short in 1973. 

    Johnson tallied up 997 yards as Clark didn't fall much far behind as he piled up 988 yards. 

    Both running backs were extremely productive during their time together. 

14. Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew

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    Fred Taylor and Maurice Jones-Drew's time with the Jacksonville Jaguars may have been limited, but both were extremely effective when they were together.

    In 2006, Taylor ran for an amazing 1,146 yards as the young Jones-Drew managed to rack up an impressive 941 yards. 

13. Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward

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    Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward became the sixth pair of running backs to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards in one season in 2008 for the New York Giants. 

    Jacobs ran for 1,089 total yards as Ward accumulated 1,025 total yards. 

12. Walter Payton and Roland Harper

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    Walter Payton may be one of the greatest running backs in NFL history, but he certainly received a little bit of help from his backup, Roland Harper, who was almost as effective as Payton. 

11. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart

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    DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart were both nightmares for opposing defenses to defend against for the Carolina Panthers, but injuries are what prevent them from being higher on this list.

    In 2009, Williams ran for an incredible 1,117 yards as Stewart managed to out-do his teammate's numbers as he piled up 1,133 total yards—Williams and Stewart are the first and only pair of running backs to both eclipse 1,100 total rushing yards. 

10. Michael Vick and Warrick Dunn

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    I know, I realize that Michael Vick is a quarterback, but can't we all agree that he was more of a running back during his early days as the Atlanta Falcons' starting quarterback? I certainly believe so. 

    Vick and running back Warrick Dunn became the fourth pair in NFL history to ran for 1,000 yards each in 2006—Vick and Dunn are still the only running back and quarterback tandem to do so. 

9. Franco Harris and John Fuqua

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    Franco Harris and John Fuqua are one of the best running back and fullback combinations in NFL history.

    In 1972, Harris led the Pittsburgh Steelers in rushing as he accumulated 1,055 yards while Fuqua tallied up 665 yards and both contributed for a total of 14 touchdowns. 

    Harris and Fuqua were one of the many reasons why the Steelers were so great in the 1970s. 

8. Randy McMillan and George Wonsley

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    Randy McMillan and George Wonsley are two of the best running backs to ever play for the Indianapolis Colts.

    In 1985, McMillian and Wonsley defined teamwork as neither eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark, but they combined for an incredible 1,574 total yards. 

7. LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles

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    LaDainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles were an extremely effective pair of running backs for the San Diego Chargers during the mid 2000s. 

    Sproles was certainly overshadowed by Tomlinson's stellar stats, as he broke several records, but he was the perfect change-of-pace running back for the Chargers. 

6. Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner

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    Kevin Mack and Earnest Byner both crossed the 1,000-yard mark in 1985 for the Cleveland Browns as Mack tallied up 1,104 yards while Byner ran for 1,002 yards.

    Mack and Byner became the third pair in NFL history to both rush for 1,000 yards while playing on the same team. 

5. Leroy Kelly and Ernie Green

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    Leroy Kelly and Ernie Green may be unknown to the average football fan, but this combination was deadly to opposing defenses. 

    Both Kelly and Green averaged more than 5.0 yards per carry as they accumulated 1,851 yards together. 

4. Sam Cunningham and Andy Johnson

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    Sam Cunningham and Andy Johnson are two of the greatest New England Patriots, and they certainly are the best pair of running backs that New England has ever saw.

    Cunningham and Johnson both chipped into have the greatest rushing season by a team in NFL history as the Patriots ran for a massive 3,165 yards in 1978. 

3. Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris

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    Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris were the first ever to accumulated 1,000 yards each while playing on the same team in 1972—which happened to be the Miami Dolphins' undefeated season.

    Both running backs split carries, and Csonka, who lined up as fullback, piled up 1,117 yards as Morris landed exactly at 1,000 yards.  

2. Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier

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    Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier became the second pair of running backs to both accumlate 1,000 yards while playing on the same team.

    Harris, who was the team's fullback, tallied up an incredible 1,128 yards while the halfback, Bleier, chipped in a stellar 1,036 yards. 

1. Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams

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    Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are the greatest running back tandem in NFL history.

    Both players may not be the best in the league, but when they're paired together, it's a nightmare for opposing defenses. 

    Brown and Williams have been so effective together that the Miami Dolphins resurrected an old single wing offensive formation, which we now call the Wildcat.

    At times, Brown and Williams can be on the field at the same time, even when Miami is not in the Wildcat formation, and it creates a huge problem for opposing defenses. Even when one is on the sidelines and the other is on the field, Miami usually has their way with running the ball.

    Both running backs share multiple common qualities, but both thrive off of each other, as they're not exactly identical runners.

    As of today, Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams are the greatest running back duo of all time.