One of the easiest ways to see how effective a running back is during a game is to look at his yards per carry. Not every play will go for big yards, but over the course of a game a running back who averages four or more yards per carry can be quite effective. But what about the worst yards per carry games had by a running back?
Here we tried to find the three worst running back performances since the AFL–NFL merger of 1970. We only looked at running backs who attempted at least 15 carries in the game, and here are the worst three games that stood out above… well below the rest.
-The third worst game was turned in by future Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers in 2005 in a 20-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. In the game, Tomlins ran the ball 17 times for a total of 7 yards, giving him an average of 0.41 yards per carry.
-All time rushing leader, and another future Hall of Fame running back, Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys has the second worst yards per carry performance on the books. In a 1998 22-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints, Smith ran the ball 15 times for 6 yards, giving him an average of 0.40 yards per carry.
-Emmitt Smith’s performance above was actually the worst of all time for two weeks until the next player came along and took the top (or bottom) spot on this list over for himself. The worst performance by a running back carrying the ball a minimum of 15 times in an NFL game also occurred in 1998, but this time it involved Miami Dolphins running back Karim Abdul-Jabbar. In a 31-21 victory over the Denver Broncos, Abdul-Jabbar ran the ball 15 times for 5 yards, an averagle of 0.33 yards per carry.