DeMarco Murray isn’t the only NFL running back on a record pace this season.
Murray, the Cowboys running back who is threatening the NFL’s single-season records for carries and yards, is having the best season of any back in football. But Bears running back Matt Forte and Colts running back Ahmad Bradshaw are both threatening to break NFL records for running backs as well.
Forte is leading the league in receiving, with 52 catches, which puts him on pace for 119 catches this season. That would blow away the previous record for catches by a running back, set in 1995 when Cardinals fullback Larry Centers caught 101 passes. Forte is also threatening to become just the third player in NFL history to have 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. Forte currently has 448 rushing yards and 436 receiving yards, putting him on pace to finish the year with 1,024 and 997, respectively. Only Roger Craig in 1985 and Marshall Faulk in 1999 have managed 1,000 yards both rushing and receiving in the same year.
Bradshaw has six receiving touchdowns through seven games this season, putting him on pace for 14 by the time the year is over. No running back in NFL history has ever had double-digit receiving touchdowns. Faulk had nine receiving touchdowns in 2001, and running backs Leroy Hoard, Chuck Foreman, Bill Brown and Billy Cannon all had nine-touchdown seasons as well. Bradshaw has a good chance of becoming the first running back ever to get to 10.
At a time when running backs are being devalued in the NFL, Murray is showing how big an impact a workhorse back can have for his team. But Forte and Bradshaw may be showing the future of running backs in the NFL: In a passing league, the best backs may be the ones who have the biggest impact on the passing game.