Best Running Backs in Los Angeles Rams History

Updated on November 18, 2019
Los Angeles Rams running back, Todd Gurley, hurdles over Dallas Cowboys safety, Jeff Heath, during a 2017 game. Gurley is among the greatest running backs in Rams history.
Los Angeles Rams running back, Todd Gurley, hurdles over Dallas Cowboys safety, Jeff Heath, during a 2017 game. Gurley is among the greatest running backs in Rams history. | Source

Who Are the Greatest Running Backs in Los Angeles Rams History?

The Los Angeles Rams have bounced between several cities since joining the National Football League in 1937, with legendary running backs bouncing off tacklers. With three players who could plant an argument to be the team's No. 1 running back of all-time, the Rams are steeped in tradition at one of the most important offensive positions. That doesn't even count present-day running back, Todd Gurley, who is on pace to be as good as—if not better than—the rest of the team's legends.

Running the ball and the Rams have been synonymous for decades. Since 1970, there have been 31 seasons when a Rams running back rushed for at least 1,000 yards, and the longest stretch since then without seeing a running back eclipse that mark was just 4 years (1995–98). During the 8-year stretch from 2005–12, Steven Jackson single-handedly made sure there was a 1,000-yard rusher for the Rams, while from 1983–89, there were 3 players who contributed to a 7-year streak of rushing excellence. Throughout the entire team's history, there have been 33 seasons to feature a 1,000-yard rusher, with 12 different players reaching that plateau. Of those players, nine have done so multiple times, including five players with at least three such seasons.

Selection Criteria for This List

Those phenomenal numbers are what made creating this list so difficult, but nevertheless, what follows is a list of the 10 greatest Rams running backs of all-time. Also included is a handful of honorable-mention candidates and statistics from every 1,000-yard rushing season in team history. The criteria used to develop this list includes:

  • Legacy Honors (Hall of Fame, Ring of Honor, retired number, etc.)
  • Single-Season Honors (MVP, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, etc.)
  • On-Field Success (league leader, playoff appearances, records, etc.)
  • Longevity (years with Rams, percentage of career with Rams, etc.)
  • Versatility (rushing ability, receiving ability, returning ability, etc.)

Only games played with the Rams are factored into this list, so while Hall of Famer Ollie Matson would be a great player to include on a list about the Arizona Cardinals, his 4 seasons in Los Angeles with just 1,214 yards won't place him in the top 10 here. Now, without further ado, let's count down the top 10 running backs in Los Angeles Rams history! Feel free to chime in with your thoughts on these selections.

10. Cullen Bryant

  • Years With the Rams: 1973–83, '87
  • Playoff Appearances: 1973–80

William Cullen Bryant came to the Los Angeles Rams as a second-round draft pick in 1973, but he didn't have a steady impact on the rushing attack until late in the decade. Bryant opened his rookie season as a return specialist, and he returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the third week of the season against the San Francisco 49ers. He also opened the 1974 season with an 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter of a season-opening victory over the Denver Broncos.

Bryant spent the 1975 season as the fullback, but was back to returning kicks the next two seasons. Finally, from 1978–81, he broke into the rushing attack with regularity, and he helped push the Rams to three playoff appearances. His best game on the ground came in 1978, when he carried the ball for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns in the last game of the season.

In 19 postseason games—11 of which he ran the ball—he rushed 113 times for 447 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also catching 19 passes for 151 yards and another touchdown. In the return game, he returned 16 kicks and 11 punts for 455 yards. Bryant had a pair of playoff games with over 100 rushing yards, and his most significant touchdown came in Super Bowl XIV. That's when his 1-yard plunge gave the Rams an early lead in a game they would ultimately lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-19.

In an 11-year career with the Rams, Bryant had 802 carries for 3,119 yards and 20 touchdowns, and he also hauled in 84 passes for 979 yards and a touchdown. As a kick and punt returner, he added 2,467 total return yards and 3 touchdowns. He was a strong and steady carrier throughout his career. His 11 fumbles are the fewest among Rams running backs with at least 500 carries.

Cullen Bryant's Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD
1973
13
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1974
14
0
10
24
0
2
14
0
1975
14
13
117
467
2
20
229
0
1976
14
0
21
64
2
2
28
0
1977
14
0
6
42
0
4
28
0
1978
16
9
178
658
7
8
76
0
1979
16
16
177
619
5
31
227
0
1980
16
16
183
807
3
53
386
3
1981
13
12
109
436
1
22
160
0
1982
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1983
10
3
27
87
0
3
8
0
1984
9
2
20
58
0
3
20
0
1987
3
0
1
2
0
0
0
0

9. Les Josephson

  • Years With the Rams: 1964–74
  • Playoff Appearances: 1967, '69, '73, '74
  • Pro Bowl: 1967

Les Josephson was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Dallas Cowboys in 1964, but a trade to the Los Angeles Rams before the season started gave Josephson a new home where he would stay for over a decade. Josephson battled many injuries throughout his career, but played in 129 games and made 4 postseason appearances throughout an 11-year career.

Josephson was used sparingly over his first three seasons, but burst onto the scene in 1967. He started all 14 games that season and made his only Pro Bowl after piling up 1,200 yards from scrimmage (800 rushing, 400 receiving). He then missed the entire 1968 season with multiple injuries, but came back strong in '69 with another 14-start season. He'd have 1,067 total offensive yards in 1970 before declining over the last several seasons of his career.

He had a career-high 138 rushing yards in his fourth professional game, and had 100 total offensive yards numerous times. All told, he carried the ball 797 times for 3,407 yards and 17 touchdowns, while adding 194 receptions for 1,970 yards and 11 touchdowns. In the postseason, he had limited contributions, with 19 carries for 32 yards, and 9 catches for 71 yards.

Les Josephson's Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD
1964
14
9
96
451
3
21
269
1
1965
13
6
71
225
0
18
169
0
1966
14
0
14
97
0
2
10
1
1967
14
14
178
800
4
37
400
4
1969
14
14
124
461
0
32
295
2
1970
12
12
150
640
5
44
427
0
1971
14
9
99
449
3
26
230
2
1972
8
1
18
75
0
14
170
1
1973
14
0
36
174
2
0
0
0
1974
12
0
11
35
0
0
0
0
Jerome Bettis arrives during the 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Though he is mostly known for his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he had a few great seasons with the Rams.
Jerome Bettis arrives during the 2019 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Though he is mostly known for his time with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he had a few great seasons with the Rams. | Source

8. Jerome Bettis

  • Years With the Rams: 1993–95
  • Pro Bowl: 1993–94
  • All-Pro: 1993
  • Major Awards: Pro Football Hall of Fame (2015), Offensive Rookie of the Year (1993)

When the Los Angeles Rams spent the 10th pick of the 1993 NFL Draft on Jerome Bettis, one of the greatest running backs in NFL history was born. The Notre Dame standout became an instant hit as "The Battering Ram" and looked like he'd become the Rams' next great running back. Going into the 1996 season, however, Bettis was asked to be the fullback and instead opted to be traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he would build a Hall of Fame career and help them win a Super Bowl.

That said, the time Bettis spent with the Rams represents some of the finest seasons a running back has had with the franchise. As the consensus Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1993, Bettis was the only rookie to be named an All-Pro after bulldozing his way to 1,429 yards in one of the more memorable debut seasons in NFL history. Bettis rushed for more than 100 yards in 7 games that year, including 5 of the final 6 matchups. That included a career-high 212 yards in a victory over the New Orleans Saints and a career-best 39 carries for 146 yards in a season-ending victory over the Chicago Bears.

During the following season, he maintained his role as the primary rusher, carrying the ball at last 21 times each of the first 7 weeks of the campaign to pile up 660 yards. But over the last 25 games in his Rams career, he would only exceed 20 rushing attempts in a game 4 times. A change in offensive style for the 1995 season significantly cut Bettis' role. For the only time in his NFL career, he wouldn't rush for 100 yards in any game, as his carries dropped by 42% from the season before. Throughout the final 6 games, Bettis carried the ball fewer than 10 times each week.

Had the Rams known how great Bettis would become (he's the seventh-leading rusher in NFL history), they surely would have held onto him longer. As it was, he gained 3,091 yards and 13 touchdowns on 796 carries with the Rams, while adding 75 receptions for 643 yards and a touchdown.

Jerome Bettis' Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD
1993
16
12
294
1429
7
26
244
0
1994
16
16
319
1025
3
31
293
1
1995
15
13
183
637
3
18
106
0

7. Dick Bass

  • Years With the Rams: 1960–69
  • Playoff Appearances: 1967
  • Pro Bowl: 1962–63, '66
  • Major Awards: Comeback Player of the Year (1966)

After watching Richard "Dick" Bass lead a star-studded college career, the Los Angeles Rams saw a chance to get a star runner with the second pick of the 1959 NFL Draft. Bass wouldn't disappoint—remaining with the Rams his entire career and making three Pro Bowls along the way.

Known for his speed, Bass was used primarily in the return game as a rookie and maintained that role for the next two seasons. In 1961, he led the league with an average return rate of 30.3 yards on kick returns, and added a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown. On top of that, he slid into a more important offensive role each year, becoming the starting fullback by 1962 and notching his first season with 1,000 rushing yards. By doing so, he became the first player in Rams history to achieve the feat.

He had a second straight Pro Bowl-caliber season in 1963, but was slowed by injuries in both 1964 and '65. Back at full strength for the 1966 season, Bass was the comeback story of the season, gaining 1,364 total offensive yards and rushing for a career-high 8 touchdowns.

Bass rushed for at least 100 yards in 10 career games, including a career-high mark of 169 against the Chicago Bears in 1962. He also had a three-touchdown game in 1966 during a win over the San Francisco 49ers. Over 10 seasons and 112 games, Bass rushed for 5,417 yards and 34 touchdowns on 1,218 carries, while also catching 204 passes for 1,841 yards and 7 touchdowns. He is fifth all-time on the Rams' career rushing list. In his lone postseason game, Bass had 40 rushing yards on 14 carries in a loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Dick Bass' Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD
1960
12
4
31
153
0
13
92
0
1961
14
9
98
608
4
16
145
0
1962
14
13
196
1033
6
30
262
2
1963
12
11
143
520
5
30
348
0
1964
9
7
72
342
2
9
83
0
1965
12
8
121
549
2
21
230
2
1966
14
14
248
1090
8
31
274
0
1967
14
14
187
627
6
27
212
1
1968
10
10
121
494
1
27
195
2
1969
1
0
1
1
0
0
0
0

6. Dan Towler

  • Years With the Rams: 1950–55
  • Playoff Appearances: 1950–52, '55
  • Pro Bowl: 1951–54
  • All-Pro: 1951, '53, '54
  • Major Awards: Pro Bowl MVP (1951)

Daniel "Deacon Dan" Towler should probably be more well-known among NFL fans, but because his career was so short, his accolades are sometimes glossed over. Towler was a 25th-round selection in the 1950 NFL Draft and became a valuable member of the "Bull Elephants," the nickname for the three Rams fullbacks of the era who helped the Rams win the 1951 NFL championship. While playing for the Rams, Towler simultaneously pursued a master's degree in religion at the University of Southern California. Upon completion of that degree in 1955, he retired from the NFL.

Towler bruised his way as one of the leading rushers of the early 1950s, pacing the league in yards in 1952 and touchdowns in '52 and '54. In 1953, he ran for a career-high 205 yards in a win over the Baltimore Colts, and in 1954, he scored 3 touchdowns in a win over the Chicago Bears.

Had he played longer, Towler likely would be a Hall of Famer. He carried the ball 672 times for 3,493 yards and 43 touchdowns during his 6 seasons (67 games), and helped the aerial attack by catching 62 passes for 665 yards and a touchdown. His career average of 5.2 yards per carry ranks first among Rams players with at least 400 attempts.

Dan Towler's Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD
1950
12
1
46
130
6
8
63
0
1951
12
5
126
854
6
16
257
0
1952
12
11
156
894
10
11
68
0
1953
12
9
152
879
7
11
125
1
1954
12
7
149
599
11
10
127
0
1955
7
3
43
137
3
6
25
0
Former Los Angeles Rams running backs, Wendell Tyler (26) and Lawrence McCutcheon (30), pose at an NFL All-Access event at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2016.
Former Los Angeles Rams running backs, Wendell Tyler (26) and Lawrence McCutcheon (30), pose at an NFL All-Access event at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2016. | Source

5. Lawrence McCutcheon

  • Years With the Rams: 1972–79
  • Playoff Appearances: 1973–77, '79
  • Pro Bowl: 1973–77
  • All-Pro: 1974

Lawrence McCutcheon was one of the NFL's premier running backs in the 1970s, and he led the Los Angeles Rams to an abundance of success throughout the decade. McCutcheon was extremely consistent, missing just 3 starts between 1973–77, while rushing for over 900 yards each season to help lead the Rams to the playoffs. In 1975, he had one of the finest playoff rushing performances of all-time and also completed a trick play in Super Bowl XIV.

McCutcheon left Colorado State as the all-time leading rusher in the history of the Western Athletic Conference, and was taken by the Rams as a third-round pick in the 1972 NFL Draft. He didn't see regular action with Los Angeles until his second season, and that came after he was slated for a backup role in the preseason. A strong showing in those exhibitions, however, moved him into the starting lineup, and he'd stay there for years to come. He gained 120 yards on the ground and another 53 and a touchdown in the passing game during the 1973 season-opener. Later in the season, he had back-to-back games with 152 rushing yards, which would serve as his career-high (he matched the number again in '77).

In 1974, McCutcheon gained a career-best 1,517 yards from scrimmage. He had a breakout season 2 years later, when he rushed for 9 touchdowns to more than double his career total to that point. Between 1976 and '77, McCutcheon scored 20 total touchdowns and had 2,985 total offensive yards. Injuries slowed him over the final two years of his career with the Rams, but he remains fourth all-time in team history with 6,186 rushing yards. He gained those yards on 1,435 carries and added 23 touchdowns. Through the air, he caught 184 passes for 1,683 yards and 12 touchdowns. During the 1976 Pro Bowl, McCutcheon set a game record with a 41-yard run. It still stands as the longest non-scoring running play in Pro Bowl history.

In the playoffs, McCutcheon excelled. In the Divisional round in 1975, he set an NFL record with 202 rushing yards against the Arizona Cardinals (now fifth all-time). A year later, he scored a touchdown in both of Los Angeles' postseason matchups, while rushing a combined 47 times for 186 yards. In Super Bowl XIV, he completed a 24-yard touchdown pass in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, which served as the final game of his 8-year tenure with the Rams. In 11 playoff games, he carried the ball 173 times for 687 yards, and added 17 catches for 150 yards.

Lawrence McCutcheon's Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD
1972
3
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1973
12
12
210
1097
2
30
289
3
1974
14
14
236
1109
3
39
408
2
1975
13
13
213
911
2
31
230
1
1976
14
14
291
1168
9
28
305
2
1977
14
14
294
1238
7
25
274
2
1978
8
7
118
420
0
12
76
2
1979
11
4
73
243
0
19
101
0
Los Angeles Rams running back, Todd Gurley, runs the ball in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2019.
Los Angeles Rams running back, Todd Gurley, runs the ball in the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2019. | Source

4. Todd Gurley

  • Years With the Rams: 2015–present
  • Playoff Appearances: 2017–18
  • Pro Bowl: 2015, '17, '18
  • All-Pro: 2015, '17, '18
  • Major Awards: Offensive Rookie of the Year (2015), Offensive Player of the Year (2017)

The St. Louis Rams took a risk by drafting Todd Gurley II as the 10th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but they've been rewarded with one of the best running backs in today's league. Gurley was rehabilitating a torn anterior cruciate ligament when he was drafted but returned to action sooner than expected, and despite only starting 12 games, he had a sensational rookie season. He's continued on to become a durable dual threat who led the NFL in total touchdowns in 2017 and '18.

Gurley punished the Arizona Cardinals with 144 yards in the second half of his first career start to open a string of four straight weeks with over 100 yards on the ground. Those 556 yards marked the most in NFL history during a running back's first 4 starts. By season's end, he was the third rookie in team history to run for more than 1,000 yards, joining Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson (1983) and Jerome Bettis ('93), who both also won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

In 2016, Gurley's production dipped when the team moved to Los Angeles, but since coach Todd McVay was hired for the 2017 season, Gurley has been among the NFL's best offensive forces. After failing to reach 100 yards in a game in 2016, Gurley did so 6 times in both '17 and '18. He picked up his first career 3-touchdown game in Week 3 of 2017, then gained 215 total yards the following week. By season's end, however, those games were shadowed because Gurley scored 4 times against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15 and then gained 276 total yards the following week against the Tennessee Titans. Over his final 3 games of the season, Gurley racked up 8 total touchdowns, helping him close the season with 19 touchdowns and a league-best 2,093 offensive yards.

In 2018, Gurley signed a contract extension to become the highest-paid running back in the league. On the field, he picked up where he left off, and that included a career-high 208 rushing yards in a win over the Denver Broncos. That came in the middle of a fabulous 3-game stretch that saw Gurley pile up 348 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns as the Rams moved to 7–0 on the season. In six games that season, he scored at least two touchdowns. In Week 10, he scored against the Seahawks to give himself a touchdown in 13 straight regular-season games (dating back to 2017), which set a franchise record. By season's end, he had 21 total touchdowns and 1,831 total yards, and also tied the NFL record by scoring on a pair of 2-point conversions in a Week 2 win over the Arizona Cardinals.

Gurley helped the Rams make the playoffs in each 2017 and '18. He had 101 rushing yards in the opening round in '17, but the Rams lost to the Atlanta Falcons. The following postseason, he pushed Los Angeles to the Super Bowl. In 3 playoff games, he carried the ball 44 times for 261 yards and 2 touchdowns, despite battling a knee injury that hindered him in a loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

Todd Gurley's Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD
2015
13
12
229
1106
10
21
188
0
2016
16
16
278
885
6
43
327
0
2017
15
15
279
1305
13
64
788
6
2018
14
14
256
1251
17
59
580
4
2019
7
7
92
355
6
15
81
1
Former St. Louis Rams running back, Steven Jackson, runs the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the 2007 season.
Former St. Louis Rams running back, Steven Jackson, runs the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the 2007 season. | Source

3. Steven Jackson

  • Years With the Rams: 2004–12
  • Playoff Appearances: 2004
  • Pro Bowl: 2006, '09, '10
  • All-Pro: 2006, '09

If Steven Jackson did what he did for the St. Louis Rams with some other teams, he'd be considered the best running back in that franchise's history. Unfortunately for Jackson, he comes in at No. 3 in an extremely crowded race to be the best in Rams' history. Jackson's longevity was remarkable, as he ran for at least 1,000 yards for 8 straight seasons (1 of just 6 players in NFL history to do so) and closed out his career with franchise records for rushing attempts and yards. He was also a threat to catch the ball out of the backfield, leaving him as one of the most dynamic offensive players of the late 2000s.

Jackson slipped in the 2004 NFL Draft due to a knee injury he suffered at Oregon State, but the Rams opted to select him as the 24th overall pick. Jackson would serve as the backup to Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk as a rookie, and after being named the starter in 2005, he began one of the longest streaks of 1,000-yard seasons in NFL history. After Faulk retired, Jackson was the premier back in St. Louis, and had a breakout season in 2006 when he led the NFL with a career-best 2,334 offensive yards. That season, he set career-highs in rushing yardage (1,528), receiving yardage (806), and total touchdowns (10).

Going into the 2008 season, Jackson demanded a new contract from the team, and after a training camp holdout, he was made the highest paid running back in the league. He rewarded the franchise with back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons in 2009 and '10, and exceeded 1,600 total yards both years. After 3 more seasons with at least 1,000 yards, he opted out of his contract and went to the Atlanta Falcons for the 2013 season.

Jackson was extraordinarily strong with the ball in his hands. With the Rams, he only fumbled 23 times on 2,396 rushing attempts and 407 receptions (less than 1% of his offensive touches), and didn't fumble at all during his last 2 seasons. He gained a team-record 10,138 rushing yards and 56 touchdowns during his tenure, while adding 3,324 yards and 8 touchdowns through the air.

Steven Jackson's Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD
2004
14
3
134
673
4
19
189
0
2005
15
15
254
1046
8
43
320
2
2006
16
16
346
1528
13
90
806
3
2007
12
12
237
1002
5
38
271
1
2008
12
11
253
1042
7
40
379
1
2009
15
15
324
1416
4
51
322
0
2010
16
16
330
1241
6
46
383
0
2011
15
15
260
1145
5
42
333
1
2012
16
16
258
1045
4
38
321
0
Former Los Angeles Rams running back, Eric Dickerson, poses with No. 29 jersey during a press conference after signing a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Rams at Cal Lutheran University on August 29, 2017.
Former Los Angeles Rams running back, Eric Dickerson, poses with No. 29 jersey during a press conference after signing a one-day contract to retire as a member of the Rams at Cal Lutheran University on August 29, 2017. | Source

2. Eric Dickerson

  • Years With the Rams: 1983–87
  • Playoff Appearances: 1983–86
  • Pro Bowl: 1983–84, '86, '87
  • All-Pro: 1983–84, '86, '87
  • Major Awards: Pro Football Hall of Fame (1999), Rams No. 29 retired, Offensive Rookie of the Year (1983), NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1986), NFC Offensive Player of the Year (1983, '86, '87)

After being selected with the second pick of the NFL draft, Eric Dickerson became the most prolific rookie running back in the history of the NFL. And his attack on the league's record book didn't stop there. After establishing numerous rookie rushing records in 1983, Dickerson set a new all-time single-season rushing record in 1984 and continued a blistering career from there.

Dickerson set still-standing rookie rushing records with 390 attempts for 1,815 yards and 18 touchdowns, and rushed for more than 100 yards in 9 games. That included his 192- and 199-yard efforts in back-to-back weeks. Factoring in his receiving yardage, he had more than 100 yards from scrimmage in all but 3 games that season, and twice that year, he had 3 rushing touchdowns. With 20 total touchdowns as a rookie, Dickerson posted the second-best mark of all-time, trailing only Gale Sayers, who had 22 in 1965. Dickerson's 2,212 yards from scrimmage also established an NFL rookie record that still stands today.

Then, he followed up his Rookie of the Year campaign with an even better season. He bullied his way to an NFL record 2,105 yards, collecting a then-record 12 games with at least 100 yards in the process. Dickerson's high mark for the season came against the Houston Oilers, when he bulled his way for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he also added 208 yards against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Dickerson became embattled in a contract dispute with the Rams after that stellar start to his career, which caused him to miss two games at the start of the 1985 season. That didn't seem to matter, however, as Dickerson ran for over 1,000 yards once again, including a 150-yard, 3-touchdown showing in his first game of the season. Dickerson then dazzled even brighter in the playoffs. With the Rams battling the Dallas Cowboys in the Divisional round, Dickerson delivered one of the greatest postseason escapades of all-time with a still-standing record 248 rushing yards in a 20-0 shutout.

In 1986, he opened the season with 193 yards against the Cardinals and added 207 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers later in the season. Those efforts helped him lead the league in rushing for the third time in 4 seasons, and cross the 1,800-yard mark for a record third time in his career. Only 2 other players (O.J. Simpson and Barry Sanders) have ever rushed for more than 1,800 yards in 2 seasons. After that star-studded season, continued contract disputes between Dickerson and the Rams led into the strike-shortened 1987 season. After three games, Dickerson was traded to the Indianapolis Colts in one of the biggest moves in NFL history.

Despite his rocky tenure with Los Angeles, Dickerson now works in the Rams' front office. During his career, he carried the ball 1,525 times for 7,245 yards and 56 touchdowns, while adding 123 receptions for 912 yards and 2 more scores. He is second in team history in all three rushing categories. During the postseason, he gained 724 rushing yards in 7 games, scoring 3 touchdowns.

Eric Dickerson's Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD
1983
16
16
390
1808
18
51
404
2
1984
16
16
379
2105
14
21
139
0
1985
14
14
292
1234
12
20
126
0
1986
16
16
404
1821
11
26
205
0
1987
3
2
60
277
1
5
38
0
Former St. Louis Rams running back, Marshall Faulk, is seen during the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game-Enshrinees' Gold Jacket Dinner at Canton Memorial Civic Center.
Former St. Louis Rams running back, Marshall Faulk, is seen during the 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game-Enshrinees' Gold Jacket Dinner at Canton Memorial Civic Center. | Source

1. Marshall Faulk

  • Years With the Rams: 1999–2006
  • Playoff Appearances: 1999–2001, '03, '04
  • Pro Bowl: 1999–2002
  • All-Pro: 1999–2001
  • Major Awards: Pro Football Hall of Fame (2011), Rams No. 28 retired, NFL MVP (2000), NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1999–2001), Bert Bell Award (2001)

Among the most pivotal pieces of "The Greatest Show on Turf" Rams teams was Marshall Faulk, the greatest running back in franchise history. Faulk established himself as a superstar in the mid- and late-1990s with the Indianapolis Colts, and got even better once he came to St. Louis. He is the only player ever to accumulate 12,000 rushing yards and 6,000 receiving yards in a career, and his time with the Rams certainly made that possible.

Faulk was an impact starter right from the beginning. After being traded to the Rams for two draft picks following a dispute with the Colts, Faulk signed the richest contract in Rams history. He went to work immediately in 1999 and rewarded the team's investment by recording one of the finest seasons of his career. He broke the NFL record for total offensive yards in a season with 2,429 and became the second player ever to reach 1,000 rushing and receiving yards in the same season. With his 1,048 receiving yards, he also set a new NFL standard for receiving yardage by a running back. St. Louis would win Super Bowl XXXIV that season, and Faulk did his damage with 90 receiving yards after being stuffed for just 17 on the ground.

The next season was equally strong and saw Faulk set an NFL record with 26 total touchdowns. That came despite missing two games to injury, and earned him Most Valuable Player honors. Faulk was virtually unstoppable in the early-going, racking up 1,083 offensive yards through 6 games, which helped the Rams scored at least 37 points in each of those matchups. He also had two of his finest individual games in 2000. Against the New Orleans Saints in the season finale, he had a career-high 220 rushing yards, and that game followed up a 4-touchdown effort from 2 weeks earlier against the Minnesota Vikings. Early in the season, Faulk had 286 offensive yards and tied the NFL record by scoring on a pair of 2-point conversions against the Atlanta Falcons.

In 2001, he again missed 2 games, but still amassed an NFL-high 21 total touchdowns and had more than 2,100 total yards for a third straight season. Faulk was also selected by the Associated Press as Offensive Player of the Year for the third straight season, becoming just the second player in history to achieve that feat (Earl Campbell did so from 1978–80). He had 159 rushing yards in the NFC title game, and a win put the Rams back into the Super Bowl—though they would lose to the New England Patriots. That marked Faulk's only playoff game with more than 100 rushing yards.

For Faulk, however, that would be his last season of true greatness. He succumbed to injuries over the next several seasons, but was still productive when he played. Faulk piled up at least 750 rushing yards during each of the next 3 seasons, but he'd only amass 26 total touchdowns over the final 4 years of his career. After missing the entire 2006 season following reconstructive knee surgery, Faulk announced his retirement in 2007. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.

In total for the Rams, Faulk carried the ball 1,447 times for 6,959 yards and 58 touchdowns, while also catching 470 passes for 4,071 yards and 27 touchdowns. Faulk holds the team record for rushing touchdowns (58) and total touchdowns (83), though present-day starter Todd Gurley is threatening both marks.

Marshall Faulk's Statistics With the Rams

Year
G
GS
Rush
Yds
TD
Rec
Yds
TD
1999
16
16
253
1381
7
87
1048
5
2000
14
14
253
1359
18
81
830
8
2001
14
14
260
1382
12
83
765
9
2002
14
10
212
953
8
80
537
2
2003
11
11
209
818
10
45
290
1
2004
14
14
195
774
3
50
310
1
2005
16
1
65
292
0
44
291
1
Former Los Angeles Rams running back, Wendell Tyler, smiles during an NFL All-Access event at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2016.
Former Los Angeles Rams running back, Wendell Tyler, smiles during an NFL All-Access event at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2016. | Source

Honorable Mentions

Because the Rams have had so many prominent players at the running back position, several deserving ball carriers had to be left out of the top 10. Listed below are a handful of those who left an indelible mark on team history, but didn't quite make the top 10.

Paul "Tank" Younger (1949–57)

Paul "Tank" Younger was a four-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro for the Rams during the 1950s after being signed as the first NFL player from a historically black college. The best game of his career came in 1954, where he rushed for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Chicago Bears. With the Rams, Younger ran the ball 682 times for 3,296 yards and 31 touchdowns, and helped the team win the 1951 NFL championship. After he retired, he became the first African-American administrator in an NFL front office, when he joined the Rams as a scout.

Greg Bell (1987–89)

Greg Bell was a blooming star for the Buffalo Bills after being drafted in 1984, and when he went to St. Louis as part of the Eric Dickerson trade in 1987, he had his two best seasons ever. He led the NFL in touchdowns in each 1988 and '89, while rushing for more than 1,000 yards each season. He scored on the ground in all but seven games over those two seasons. Included was a 3-touchdown game against the Phoenix Cardinals in 1988, and a 221-yard, 2-touchdown effort against the Green Bay Packers in 1989. Overall, Bell ran the ball 568 times for 2,375 yards and 31 touchdowns while with the Rams.

Willie Ellison (1967–72)

While Willie Ellison was only the primary starter for two seasons, he was definitely a strong running back when given the chance to showcase his skills. His best season came in 1971, when he was selected for the Pro Bowl after posting 1,000 rushing yards, and setting a then-NFL record with 247 yards in a game against the New Orleans Saints. With the Rams, Ellison racked up 2,901 yards and 20 touchdowns on 656 attempts.

Wendell Tyler (1977–82)

Wendell Tyler had two seasons as the primary running back for the Rams, and he made the most of them. In 1979, he had 1,109 yards and 9 touchdowns, and in 1981, he posted 1,074 yards and 12 touchdowns. Tyler was a dual threat, carrying the ball 720 times for 3,266 yards and 33 touchdowns, and adding 120 receptions for 1,147 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Cleveland Gary (1989–93)

Cleveland Gary was a solid rushing option for the Rams for several seasons. In 1990, he led the NFL with 14 rushing touchdowns—including 3 in a game against the Dallas Cowboys—and he ran for a career-high 1,125 yards in 1992. Gary gained 2,634 yards and 24 touchdowns on 667 carries in his career with the Rams.

Los Angeles Rams running back, Malcolm Brown, scores a touchdown in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium in a 2019 game. While Brown is the team's reserve running back, he's shown flashes that he could someday be a star.
Los Angeles Rams running back, Malcolm Brown, scores a touchdown in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium in a 2019 game. While Brown is the team's reserve running back, he's shown flashes that he could someday be a star. | Source

Los Angeles Rams Running Back History

With 33 seasons featuring a 1,000-yard rusher and three Hall of Famers to wear the uniform, the franchise records among running backs feature some of the finest marks in NFL history.

Los Angeles Rams Rushing Records

  • Career Yards: 10,138, Steven Jackson (2004–12)
  • Career Touchdowns: 58, Marshall Faulk (1999–05)
  • Single-Season Yards: 2,105, Eric Dickerson (1984)*
  • Single-Season Touchdowns: 18, Dickerson ('83) and Faulk ('00)
  • Single-Game Yards: 247, Willie Ellison (1971)
  • Single-Game Touchdowns: 4, Many players tied

*NFL record

Los Angeles Rams Running Backs to Rush for 1,000 Yards

Player
Year
G
GS
Att
Yds
TD
Eric Dickerson
1984
16
16
379
2105
14
Eric Dickerson
1986
16
16
404
1821
11
Eric Dickerson
1983
16
16
390
1808
18
Steven Jackson
2006
16
16
346
1528
13
Jerome Bettis
1993
16
12
294
1429
7
Steven Jackson
2009
15
15
324
1416
4
Marshall Faulk
2001
14
14
260
1382
12
Marshall Faulk
1999
16
16
253
1381
7
Charles White
1987
15
12
324
1374
11
Marshall Faulk
2000
14
14
253
1359
18
Todd Gurley
2017
15
15
279
1305
13
Todd Gurley
2018
14
14
256
1251
17
Steven Jackson
2010
16
16
330
1241
6
Lawrence McCutcheon
1977
14
14
294
1238
7
Eric Dickerson
1985
14
14
292
1234
12
Greg Bell
1988
16
13
288
1212
16
Lawrence McCutcheon
1976
14
14
291
1168
9
Steven Jackson
2011
15
15
260
1145
5
Greg Bell
1989
16
15
272
1137
15
Cleveland Gary
1992
16
16
279
1125
7
Lawrence McCutcheon
1974
14
14
236
1109
3
Wendell Tyler
1979
16
12
218
1109
9
Todd Gurley
2015
13
12
229
1106
10
Lawrence McCutcheon
1973
12
12
210
1097
2
Dick Bass
1966
14
14
248
1090
8
Wendell Tyler
1981
15
15
260
1074
12
Steven Jackson
2005
15
15
254
1046
8
Steven Jackson
2012
16
16
258
1045
4
Steven Jackson
2008
12
11
253
1042
7
Dick Bass
1962
14
13
196
1033
6
Jerome Bettis
1994
16
16
319
1025
3
Steven Jackson
2007
12
12
237
1002
5
Willie Ellison
1971
14
13
211
1000
4

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