The most rushing yards in a single NFL game happened on November 4, 2007, so fairly recently actually. On this day, Adrian Peterson ran for 296 yards off 30 carries! Absolutely incredible. That’s a good number for an NFL quarterback to put up in a single NFL game.
Related: Most Passing Yards in an NFL Game
Most rushing yards in a single game
Peterson almost hit the 300 mark, while averaging 9.87 yards per carry that day while playing for the Minnesota Vikings. If you’re averaging almost 10 yards per carry, you might as well just continue to run the ball right at the opposing team.
But don’t worry, that’s exactly was the Vikings did that day. Peterson lead the team to a victory over the San Diego Chargers by a score of 35-17 while tacking on three rushing touchdowns.
2007 Minnesota Vikings
The 2007 Vikings ended their season 8-8 which was a game back from the wild card spot. Minnesota was 8-6 going into their final two game and controlled their own destiny. What hurts even more is that their week 16 matchup against the Washington Redskins basically gifted the Redskins the 6th seed in the playoffs.
The week 16 game saw the Redskins go out to a 22-0 lead at halftime and coast to a 32-21 victory. That put the Vikings in a spot that they needed help going into week 17, which is never where you want to be. They would lose their final game of the season in OT to the Denver Broncos, which officially ended their playoff hopes.
Next best rushing games
Although not the most rushing yards in an NFL game, here are some more instances running backs that were right there:
|Jamal Lewis||Baltimore Ravens||September 14, 2003||295|
|Jerome Harrison||Cleveland Browns||December 20, 2009||286|
|Corey Dillon||Cincinnati Bengals||October 22, 2000||278|
|Walter Payton||Chicago Bears||November 20, 1977||275|
|O.J. Simpson||Buffalo Bills||November 25, 1976||273|
|Shaun Alexander||Seattle Seahawks||November 11, 2001||266|
|Jamaal Charles||Kansas City Chiefs||January 3, 2010||259|
|DeMarco Murray||Dallas Cowboys||October 23, 2011||253|
|Mike Anderson||Denver Broncos||December 3, 2000||251|
|Doug Martin||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||November 4, 2012||251|
NFL is a passing league
One common thread in all these examples is that they all happened at least 9+ years ago. Although not on the above chart, Derek Henry ran for 238 yards in 2018. That is the most recent game that cracks the top 50 single rushing games of all time in the NFL.
It’s obvious that if you watch the NFL today that the league has shifted in favor of passing. This is why