Top 10 Running Backs in Los Angeles Rams History

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Rams running back Todd Gurley hurdles over Cowboys safety Jeff Heath during a 2017 game. Gurley is among the greatest running backs in Rams history.

Rams running back Todd Gurley hurdles over Cowboys safety Jeff Heath during a 2017 game. Gurley is among the greatest running backs in Rams history.

Who Are the Greatest Rams Running Backs of All Time?

With at least three different players who could reasonably lay claim to being the Rams' No. 1 running back of all time, the franchise has an impressive history when it comes to this important offensive position.

Running the ball and the Rams have been synonymous for decades. Since the team joined the NFL in 1937, there have been 33 seasons when a Rams running back rushed for at least 1,000 yards; 12 players have achieved that milestone. The longest stretch without seeing a running back eclipse that mark was just four years (1995–98). During the eight-year stretch from 2005 to '12, Steven Jackson single-handedly made sure there was a 1,000-yard rusher for the Rams, while from 1983 to '89 there were three players who contributed to a seven-year streak of rushing excellence. Nine players have had multiple 1,000-yard seasons; five players have had three of them.

These phenomenal numbers are what made creating this list so difficult.

Selection Criteria

  • 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 the Rams, percentage of career with the 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 Cardinals, his four seasons in Los Angeles with just 1,214 yards won't place him in the top 10 here.

Following the top 10, I have also included a handful of honorable mentions as well as statistics from every 1,000-yard rushing season in team history.

10. Cullen Bryant

  • Years With the Rams: 1973–82, '87
  • Playoff Appearances: 1973–80

Cullen Bryant came to the Rams as a second-round draft pick in 1973, but he didn't have a steady role in 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 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 Broncos.

Bryant spent the 1975 season as the fullback, but he was back to returning kicks the next two seasons. Finally, from 1978 to '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 two touchdowns in the last game of the season.

In 14 postseason games—eight of which he ran the ball—he rushed 102 times for 409 yards and two touchdowns, while also catching 17 passes for 139 yards. As a return specialist, he returned 14 kicks and 11 punts for 412 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 one-yard plunge gave the Rams an early lead in a game they would ultimately lose to the Steelers, 31–19.

In an 11-year career with Los Angeles, Bryant had 802 carries for 3,119 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also hauled in 142 passes for 1,148 yards and three touchdowns. As a kick and punt returner, he added 2,467 total return yards and three 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: Rams Statistics

YearGGSRushYdsTDRecYdsTD

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

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 Cowboys in 1964, but before the season started he was traded to the Rams—where he would stay for over a decade. He battled many injuries throughout his career, but he played in 129 games and made four postseason appearances throughout an 11-year career.

Josephson was used sparingly over his first three seasons, but he 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 he 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 nine catches for 71 yards.

Les Josephson: Rams Statistics

YearGGSRushYdsTDRecYdsTD

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 Hall of Fame Enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Though he is mostly known for his time with the Steelers, he had a few great seasons with the Rams.

Jerome Bettis arrives during the 2019 Hall of Fame Enshrinement at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Though he is mostly known for his time with the Steelers, he had a few great seasons with the Rams.

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 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. Instead, he opted to be traded to the 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, he was the only rookie to be named an Associated Press First-Team All-Pro after bulldozing his way to 1,429 yards in one of the more memorable debut seasons in NFL history. He rushed for more than 100 yards in seven games that year, including five of the final six matchups. That included a career-high 212 yards in a victory over the Saints and a career-best 39 carries for 146 yards in a season-ending victory over the Bears.

During the following season, he maintained his role as the primary rusher, carrying the ball at least 21 times per game during the first seven weeks of the season to pile up 660 yards. But over the last 25 games in his Rams career, he would exceed 20 rushing attempts in a game only four times. A change in offensive style for the 1995 season significantly cut Bettis's 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 six games, Bettis carried the ball fewer than 10 times each week.

Had the Rams known how great Bettis would become (he's in eighth place for career rushing yards 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: Rams Statistics

YearGGSRushYdsTDRecYdsTD

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 Dick Bass lead a star-studded college career, the Rams saw a chance to get a star runner with the second pick of the 1959 NFL Draft. Bass wouldn't disappoint; he remained with the franchise for his entire career and made 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 he 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 he was slowed by injuries in both '64 and '65. Back at full strength for the 1966 season, he was the comeback story of the season, gaining 1,364 total offensive yards and rushing for a career-high eight touchdowns.

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

Dick Bass: Rams Statistics

YearGGSRushYdsTDRecYdsTD

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: 1952, ‘54
  • Major Awards: Pro Bowl MVP (1951)

"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 team win the 1951 NFL championship. While playing for the Rams, Towler simultaneously pursued a master's degree in religion at USC. 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, leading the league in yards in '52 and touchdowns in '52 and '54. In 1953, he ran for a career-high 205 yards in a win over the Colts, and in '54 he scored three touchdowns in a win over the Bears.

Had he played longer, Towler likely would have become a Hall of Famer. He carried the ball 672 times for 3,493 yards and 43 touchdowns during his six seasons (67 games). He 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: Rams Statistics

YearGGSRushYdsTDRecYdsTD

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 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 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.

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 Rams to an abundance of success throughout the decade. McCutcheon was extremely consistent, missing just there starts between 1973 and '77 while rushing for over 900 yards each season to help lead the team 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 rushing yards leader in the history of the Western Athletic Conference. He 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 1977).

In 1974, McCutcheon gained a career-best 1,517 yards from scrimmage. He had a breakout season two years later, when he rushed for nine touchdowns to more than double his career total to that point. Between 1976 and '77, he 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, he 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 Cardinals (now tied for sixth all-time). A year later, he scored a touchdown in both of the Rams' 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 Steelers, which served as the final game of his eight-year tenure with Los Angeles. In 11 playoff games, he carried the ball 173 times for 687 yards and added 17 catches for 150 yards.

Lawrence McCutcheon: Rams Statistics

YearGGSRushYdsTDRecYdsTD

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

Rams running back Todd Gurley runs the ball in the fourth quarter against the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2019.

Rams running back Todd Gurley runs the ball in the fourth quarter against the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2019.

4. Todd Gurley

  • Years With the Rams: 2015–19
  • 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 Rams took a risk by selecting Todd Gurley as the 10th pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but they were rewarded with one of the best running backs in today's league. Gurley was rehabilitating a torn ACL when he was drafted, but he returned to action sooner than expected. Despite only starting in 12 games, he had a sensational rookie season. He became a durable dual threat who led the NFL in total touchdowns in 2017 and '18.

Gurley punished the 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 four 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 from St. Louis to Los Angeles, but since coach Todd McVay was hired for the '17 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 six times in both '17 and '18. He picked up his first career three-touchdown game in Week 3 of 2017, then gained 215 total yards the following week. By season's end, however, those games were overshadowed because Gurley scored four times against the Seahawks in Week 15 and then gained 276 total yards the following week against the Titans. Over his final three games of the season, he racked up eight 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 Broncos. That came in the middle of a fabulous three-game stretch that saw Gurley pile up 348 rushing yards and seven touchdowns as the Rams moved to a 7–0 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 he also tied the NFL record by scoring on a pair of two-point conversions in a Week 2 win over the Cardinals.

Gurley helped the Rams make the playoffs in 2017 and '18. He had 101 rushing yards in the 2017 wild-card round, but the Rams lost to the Falcons. The following postseason, he pushed Los Angeles to the Super Bowl. In three playoff games, he carried the ball 30 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns despite battling a knee injury that hindered him in a loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. Gurley was released by the Rams in March 2020.

Todd Gurley: Rams Statistics

YearGGSRushYdsTDRecYdsTD

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

15

15

223

857

12

31

207

2

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 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 eight straight seasons (one of just six 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 with the 24th 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 he 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 (16).

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 he exceeded 1,600 total yards both years. After two more seasons with at least 1,000 yards, he opted out of his contract and went to the Falcons for the 2013 season.

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

Steven Jackson: Rams Statistics

YearGGSRushYdsTDRecYdsTD

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 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 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.

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, '84, '86)

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, he set a new all-time single-season rushing record in '84 and continued a blistering career from there.

Dickerson set still-standing rookie rushing records with 390 attempts for 1,808 yards and 18 touchdowns, and he rushed for more than 100 yards in nine 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 three games that season. Twice that year, he had three rushing touchdowns in a game. With 20 total touchdowns as a rookie, he 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 season with an even better season. He bullied his way to an NFL record of 2,105 yards, picking up a then-record of 12 games in a season with at least 100 yards in the process. Dickerson's high mark for the season came against the Oilers, when he ran for 215 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 208 yards against the Cardinals.

Dickerson became embroiled 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 he ran for over 1,000 yards once again, including a 150-yard, three-touchdown showing in his first game of the season. He then dazzled even brighter in the playoffs. With the Rams battling the 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 Buccaneers later in the season. Those efforts helped him lead the league in rushing for the third time in four seasons and cross the 1,800-yard mark for a record third time in his career. Only two other players (O.J. Simpson and Barry Sanders) have ever rushed for more than 1,800 yards in two seasons. After that season, continued contract disputes between Dickerson and the Rams led into the strike-shortened 1987 season. After three games, Dickerson was traded to the 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 two more touchdowns. He is second in team history in rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns. During the postseason, he gained 674 rushing yards in six games, scoring three touchdowns.

Eric Dickerson: Rams Statistics

YearGGSRushYdsTDRecYdsTD

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 Rams running back Marshall Faulk during the 2017 Hall of Fame Game Enshrinees' Gold Jacket Dinner at Canton Memorial Civic Center.

Former Rams running back Marshall Faulk during the 2017 Hall of Fame Game Enshrinees' Gold Jacket Dinner at Canton Memorial Civic Center.

1. Marshall Faulk

  • Years With the Rams: 1999–2005
  • 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 Colts, and he got even better once he joined the Rams. 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 became a 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 at the time 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 held to 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 it earned him MVP honors. He was virtually unstoppable in the early-going, racking up 1,083 offensive yards through six games, which helped the Rams score at least 37 points in each of those matchups. He also had two of his finest individual games in 2000. Against the Saints in the season finale, he had a career-high 220 rushing yards, and that game followed up a four-touchdown effort from two weeks earlier against the Vikings. Early in the season, he had 286 offensive yards and tied the NFL record by scoring on a pair of two-point conversions against the Falcons.

In 2001, he again missed two games but still amassed an NFL-high 21 total touchdowns and had more than 2,100 total yards for a third straight season. He 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 to '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 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 he was still productive when he played. He piled up at least 750 rushing yards during each of the next three seasons, but he'd amass only 26 total touchdowns over the final four years of his career. After missing the entire 2006 season following reconstructive knee surgery, he announced his retirement in '07. 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. He holds the team record for rushing touchdowns (58) and total touchdowns (85), though present-day starter Todd Gurley is threatening both marks.

Marshall Faulk: Rams Statistics

YearGGSRushYdsTDRecYdsTD

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 Rams running back Wendell Tyler smiles during an NFL All-Access event at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2016.

Former Rams running back Wendell Tyler smiles during an NFL All-Access event at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2016.

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 cut.

Tank Younger (1949–57)

Tank Younger was a four-time Pro Bowler and two-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 two touchdowns against the Bears. With the Rams, Younger ran the ball 682 times for 3,296 yards and 31 touchdowns; he 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 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 rushing touchdowns in 1988 and '89 while rushing for more than 1,000 yards each season. He scored on the ground in all but eight games over those two seasons. Included was a three-touchdown game against the Cardinals in 1988, and a 221-yard, two-touchdown effort against the Packers in '89. 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 the primary starter for only 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. He also set a then-NFL record with 247 yards in a game against the 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 nine touchdowns, and in '81 he posted 1,074 yards and 12 touchdowns. Tyler was a dual threat; he carried the ball 720 times for 3,266 yards and 33 touchdowns and added 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 three in a game against the Cowboys—and he ran for a career-high 1,125 yards in '92. Gary gained 2,634 yards and 24 touchdowns on 667 carries in his career with the Rams.

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 hints that he could someday be a star.

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 hints that he could someday be a star.

Rams Running Back History and Trivia

With 33 seasons featuring a 1,000-yard rusher and three Hall of Famers to wear the uniform, the franchise records among Rams running backs feature some of the finest marks in NFL history. Here are some Rams running back records, as well as a handful of other facts and trivia.

How many Rams running backs have rushed for 1,000 yards in a season?

The Rams have had 12 players who rushed for at least 1,000 yards in a season. Steven Jackson achieved the feat eight times, the most of any player in team history.

Who is the current starting running back for Los Angeles?

The incumbent starting running back for the Rams, Todd Gurley, was released in the offseason. Cam Akers started the first two games of the 2020 season while Darrell Henderson became the starter in the third week.

What is the longest rushing play in Rams history?

Kenny Washington scored on a 92-yard touchdown run on Nov. 2, 1947, which is the longest rushing play in franchise history.

How many running backs have the Rams drafted in the first round?

The franchise has selected 23 running backs in the first round of the NFL draft.

  • 2015: Todd Gurley (No. 10)
  • 2004: Steven Jackson (No. 24)
  • 2000: Trung Candidate (No. 31)
  • 1996: Lawrence Phillips (No. 6)
  • 1993: Jerome Bettis (No. 10)
  • 1989: Cleveland Gary (No. 26)
  • 1988: Gaston Green (No. 14)
  • 1983: Eric Dickerson (No. 2)
  • 1982: Barry Redden (No. 14)
  • 1978: Elvis Peacock (No. 20)
  • 1974: John Cappelletti (No. 11)
  • 1969: Larry Smith (No. 8)
  • 1959: Dick Bass (No. 2)
  • 1957: Jon Arnett (No. 2)
  • 1956: Joe Marconi (No. 6)
  • 1950: Ralph Pasquariello (No. 9)
  • 1947: Herm Wedemeyer (No. 9)
  • 1946: Emil Sitko (No. 10)
  • 1943: Mike Holovak (No. 5)
  • 1942: Jack Wilson (No. 2)
  • 1940: Olie Cordill (No. 5)
  • 1938: Corby Davis (No. 1)
  • 1937: Johnny Drake (No. 10)

Rams Rushing Records

Listed below are the franchise's rushing records, as well as a list of every 1,000-yard rushing season in Rams history.

  • Career Yards: 10,138, Steven Jackson (2004–12)
  • Single-Season Yards: 2,105, Eric Dickerson (1984)*
  • Single-Game Yards: 247, Willie Ellison (Dec. 5, 1971)
  • Career Touchdowns: 58, Marshall Faulk (1999–2005)
  • Single-Season Touchdowns: 18, Dickerson (1983) and Faulk (2000)
  • Single-Game Touchdowns: 4, Faulk (Dec. 10, 2000)
  • Career Rushing Average: 5.2 yards per carry, Dan Towler (1950–55)
  • Single-Season Rushing Average: 7.4 yards per carry, Kenny Washington (1947)
  • Single-Game Rushing Average: 14.6 yards per carry, Dan Towler (Nov. 22, 1953)

*NFL record

Rams Running Backs to Rush for 1,000 Yards

PlayerYearGGSAttYdsTD

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