Daily Archives: September 19th, 2013

Are we nearing the end of the 30-carry running back in an NFL game?

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy in Week One was a big part of the success enjoyed by his team as they stunned the Washington Redskins 33-27. McCoy amassed 184 yards on 31 carries. McCoy’s 31 carries was the first time a Philadelphia running back had 30-plus rushing attempts in a game since McCoy had 30 in an October30, 2011┬ácontest against Dallas.

What’s interesting about McCoy’s stat line was the 31 carries. Not only did he have the most carries by a running back in Week One, but he was the only running back to have 30 or more rushing attempts. Week Two had no runners with 30-plus carries, and based on stats from the past several seasons, the 30-carry running back may become extinct. (Obviously the greater focus on the passing-game has been a major factor in teams not running a back 30 or more times in a game. That’s a topic for another time.)

Last season there were only nine games where a running back had 30-plus carries in a contest. Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles and Vikings’ running back Adrian Peterson both did it twice last season. The nine games was the lowest this century.

Going back to 2000, a game with a runner carrying the ball 30 or more times was more frequent. Here’s a quick look at the number of 30-plus carry games each season since 2000.

2012: 9
2011: 11
2010: 11
2009: 12
2008: 11
2007: 18
2006: 26
2005: 22
2004: 44 (most in a season since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970)
2003: 36
2002: 26
2001: 23
2000: 34

The nine games last season was the lowest number of 30-carry games in the NFL since 1990 when there was only eight. Looking at stats from 1970 to today (1970 was the first year of the AFL-NFL merger) the decade of the seventies saw an average of 7.7 games with one running back carrying the ball 30-plus times in a game; in the 1980s, the average went up to 16.4 games per season; in the 1990’s the average increased again to 19.1 games per season; in the first decade of this century, that average skyrocketed to 25.2 games per season. Over the last three seasons (2010-2012) the average plummeted to an average of only 10.3 games per season.

As mentioned above, this was the first 30-carry rusher for the Eagles since 2011. The Miami Dolphins, have the league’s longest drought when it comes to a runner with 30-plus carries. The last time Miami handed the ball to one back 30 or more times was in a game in 2003 when Ricky Williams carried it 31 times against Dallas.

Following is the last time each NFL team had one runner with 30 or more carries in a game.

Last season with a 30-carry runner in a game
2003: Miami
2004: Detroit, New England, New Orleans
2005: Dallas, Indianapolis
2006: Arizona, San Diego
2007: Chicago, Tampa Bay
2008: Green Bay, St. Louis
2009: Carolina
2010: Atlanta, Baltimore, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Tennessee
2011: Cleveland, Houston, Jacksonville, San Francisco, Seattle
2012: Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, New York Giants, New York Jets, Oakland, Washington
2013: Philadelphia

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