New England Patriots: Notable 1000-yard rushers in franchise history

Corey Dillion carries the ball. The Denver Broncos Beat the New England Patriots by a score of 27 to 13 at Invesco Field at Mile High, Denver CO, January 14, 2006. (Photo by Rich Gabrielson/NFLPhotoLibrary)
Corey Dillion carries the ball. The Denver Broncos Beat the New England Patriots by a score of 27 to 13 at Invesco Field at Mile High, Denver CO, January 14, 2006. (Photo by Rich Gabrielson/NFLPhotoLibrary) /

Let’s take a look at the New England Patriots 1000-yard rushers in their history as the team seems ready to adopt a ground-and-pound offense.

An article not too long ago by sister site Musket Fire outlined the last 10 years  of Patriots 100-yard rushers. That was an excellent refresher.

Now, let’s take a look a bit further back to see how many have ever broken that mark since the team in 2021 is looking to run and run some more.

To do that, they’d almost have to have a 1000-yard rusher in tow. Do they have that? We’ll just briefly take a look at that too.

New England Patriots 1000-yard rushers all-time

Let’s take a look at some Patriots’ 1000-yard rushers. Rather than list them all, let’s cherry-pick a few and provide a link to all of them if the readers are interested.

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The first was Jim Nance, nicknamed, “Big Bo” who did it twice in 1966 and 1967. His highest total in only 14 games was 1458. Nance was a big back, a very big back then at about 235 pounds.

Do you know or remember who the Patriots’ all-time rushing leader in one season was? (Note: it was in 16 games.) It was big back Corey Dillon in 2004, in that Super Bowl-winning season.

Let’s look further into this. So let’s ask, who else gained more than 1000 yards more than once for the Patriots? The answer is … Curtis Martin.

Well, Martin is arguably the New England Patriots greatest running back ever, who unfortunately went on to amass massive yardage for the … not-so-well-liked, NY Jets.

Martin was great for New England and even better for the Jets. In 1995 and 1997 he gained more than the magic 1000 yards for New England. What did he do for the Jets?

Well, he sickeningly went on to earn that total seven more times for the J-E-S-T, (sic), Jets after he was stolen … err … signed away by former Patriots Head Coach, Bill Parcells.

That was no surprise. Over the entire history of the team. Martin was the biggest one that got away. That is until “old No. 12” went to Tampa Bay. Breathe … We move on.

Another very notable example was Craig James, who amassed 1227 yards in 1985, the Patriots’ first Super Bowl season. They lost, of course, to the Chicago Pandas, or Bears. Whatever.

So, let’s’ take a look at other New England Patriots’ 1000-yard rushers in Super Bowl-winning seasons. (Eat your heart out, Mr. Martin.)

More New England Patriots rushers in Super Bowl-winning seasons

Let’s take a look at others who had great rushing seasons in Super Bowl-winning seasons. They include another big back, Antowain Smith in the breakout season, 2001.

Smith was a, “three yards and a cloud of dust” runner, a big, tough grind-it-out runner. He gained 1167 yards in 2001. The Patriots won their first title in 2001 and Smith had a lot to do with it.

There were other 1000-rushers as has been noted. Yet, the last one I will note is an all-time favorite of this writer.

That would be the amazing, and spectacularly underrated, LeGarrette Blount. Blount rushed for 1161 yards and an astronomical 18 touchdowns in 2016.

He was a running back in a big linebacker’s or a big fullback’s body. Again, he fit the New England Patriots, to a T.

His contribution, along with those of Corey Dillon and Antowain Smith, were the largest contributions by running backs in the history of the team.

Blount should be inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame and I, for one, would vote early and often for his induction.

So that’s it. A look at some of the greatest and the most important running backs in the history of the New England Patriots.

Next. New England Patriots: 5 second-year studs destined to shine in 2021. dark

If in 2021, the Patriots seek to be a ground-and-pound offense, they need a guy like one of these guys were.

It says here, they may just have one. It could be Damien Harris who may be on the cusp of a breakout year. Or, might it just be another of those big-backs?

They now have one. He’s rookie running back (from Oklahoma), Rhamondre Stevenson. Who knows? Let’s hope one of them can measure up. It’s shaping up to be a great year. Can’t wait.