Broncos' rookie leads Week 14 rushing parade
By Desmond M. Wallace, CNNSI.com
The Broncos' Mike Anderson is not even the best-known running back on his own roster, but after his 251-yard rushing performance in a 38-23 win against the Saints on Sunday, he does own the NFL's single-game rookie rushing record.
Anderson, who began the season as Denver's No. 3 tailback, galloped over and through a New Orleans defense which limited the defending Super Bowl champs to 28 rushing yards seven days earlier.
The Broncos' sixth-round draft pick from Utah broke Corey Dillon's 3-year-old record of 246 yards and registered the fourth-best rushing performance in league history.
Anderson's playing time increased because of injuries to Terrell Davis and his backup, Olandis Gary. Davis tore the ACL in his right knee in October of 1999 only to strain calf muscles and sprain his left ankle this season. In Week 1 of 2000, Gary tore the ACL in his right knee.
Denver's hard-luck season at running back nearly continued on Sunday. With about four minutes left in the third quarter and with 171 yards under his belt, Anderson took a hard shot to his left knee and was helped off the field. He would return in the fourth for 13 more carries and 80 more record-setting yards.
Perhaps there was something in the water at NFL stadiums this weekend. Including Anderson's effort, Week 14 produced four 200-yard individual running performances. The Bengals' Dillon (216 yards), the Buccaneers' Warrick Dunn (210) and the Jets' Curtis Martin (203) also registered 200-yard afternoons.
Never before had the league seen as many superlative ground games in a single day. In fact, through Week 14, this season had already seen more 200-yard rushing efforts (10) than any season in pro football history.