To have one great running back is one thing, to have two, in the same season, is quite another.
In the history of the NFL, there have been some outstanding tandems in the backfield. Of late, running backs, full-backs and fleet-of-foot quarterbacks have more equitably shared the load.
Case in point, Carolina’s Jonathan Stewart (989 yards rushing, 6 TDs in 2015), quarterback Cam Newton (636 yards, 10 TDs) and fullback Mike Tolbert (256 yards, 1 TD). That’s 1,881 yards and 17 scores, on running plays alone. Outstanding.
Before the advent of a host of pivots who can run (add to the list Russell Wilson, Tyrod Taylor and Alex Smith), the running game rested mostly with the speedy backs.
The following list of duos, frankly, made opposing defenders lose sleep at night. It was very rare to find a one-two punch in the backfield, even more rare now, where one player compliments the other, and both players are making an impact. But when it happens, it provides a huge offensive boost.
Here are the 15 pairs we consider to be the best in the history of the league, in no particular order.
After nine seasons in the league, the Texans entered the 2011 season with few expectations after a 6-10 finish in 2010. However, with a renewed commitment to defence 2011 looked to be different, especially after drafting Wisconsin Badgers walk-on J.J. Watt. On offence, veteran signal caller Matt Schaub was under center with explosive third-year man Arian Foster getting most of the touches at running back and Auburn rookie Ben Tate shuffling in and out. Well, the pairing of Foster and Tate couldn’t have worked out better. Foster, who led the NFL with 1,616 yards in 2010, rambled off 1,212 yards and scored 10 TDs in 2011, in just 13 starts. Tate got in 15 games (two starts) and posted 942 yards and four scores. The result? A 10-6 record and the first playoff berth in team history.