April 30, 2016

1983: Stars Even Score with Defeat of Bandits


The Philadelphia Stars had a 7-1 record in the inaugural United States Football League season and faced a rematch on April 30, 1983 with the one team that had beaten them thus far, the Tampa Bay Bandits. Coached by Jim Mora, the Stars featured a ball-control offense led by QB Chuck Fusina and star rookie RB Kelvin Bryant as well as a tough and opportunistic defense. They survived a close call against the Boston Breakers the previous week that provided them with a two-game cushion in the Atlantic Division.

Tampa Bay had won its first four games before losing two of three and was at 6-2 and trying to hold off the Chicago Blitz in the Central Division. Under the guidance of Head Coach Steve Spurrier, the Bandits had a strong passing attack and while they had lost veteran QB John Reaves to a broken wrist, young backup QB Jimmy Jordan out of Florida State was performing well in his place.

There were 41,559 fans in attendance at Tampa Stadium for the Saturday contest. The Stars set the tone on their first possession, driving 77 yards in 11 plays. RB Allen Harvin had a 10-yard carry and Kelvin Bryant ran the last 10 for a touchdown, with David Trout adding the extra point for the early 7-0 advantage.

Still in the opening period, a fumble by Tampa Bay RB Sam Platt after a nine-yard gain on a reverse was recovered by SS Scott Woerner. Four plays later, the Stars added three points with a 44-yard Trout field goal.

Early in the second quarter, the Bandits got on the board as the result of an eight-play, 52-yard series that featured a pass from Jimmy Jordan to WR Eric Truvillion for a 33-yard gain. It was Jordan to Truvillion again for a two-yard TD to finish the possession off and Zenon Andrusyshyn converted to make it a three-point game.

The home team had an opportunity to tie the score with 1:28 remaining in the first half, but Andrusyshyn was wide to the left on a 37-yard field goal attempt. The Stars remained ahead by 10-7 at halftime.

Philadelphia started off the third quarter with a methodical drive, mixing runs and passes. Facing second-and-ten at the Tampa Bay 20, Harvin took off on a sweep to the right for a touchdown. Trout added the point after and the visitors were now up by 17-7. The Bandits responded with a series that resulted in a 25-yard Andrusyshyn field goal to make it a seven-point contest.

Tampa Bay had largely controlled Bryant in the first half, but on the ensuing Philadelphia possession the star rookie took charge as he broke away for a 22-yard carry to the Tampa Bay nine, gained six yards on the next play, and finished the drive with a three-yard touchdown run with 2:35 remaining in the third quarter. Trout again converted to extend the visitors’ lead to 14 points.

The Bandits had opportunities in the fourth quarter, but failed to capitalize. A poor 27-yard punt by Philadelphia’s Sean Landeta from his own end zone gave Tampa Bay the ball at the Stars’ 39. But on a third down play, a Jordan pass was intercepted by CB Antonio Gibson to snuff out the threat. It proved to be all the Stars needed as they won convincingly by a final score of 24-10.

Philadelphia had the edge in total yards (332 to 321), almost evenly split between rushing (175) and passing (157) yards, while the Bandits were held to 69 yards on the ground while gaining 252 through the air. The Stars also led in first downs (20 to 16) and time of possession (32:44 to 27:16). Tampa Bay accumulated six sacks, to just one by Philadelphia, but also turned the ball over four times, to two suffered by the visitors.

Chuck Fusina completed 17 of 28 passes for 232 yards and gave up one interception. Kelvin Bryant rushed for 106 yards on 22 carries that included two touchdowns and also had four catches for 21 yards while Allen Harvin contributed 67 yards on 9 rushing attempts that also included a TD. WR Willie Collier led the Philadelphia receivers with five catches for 73 yards.

For the Bandits, Jimmy Jordan was successful on 24 of 47 throws for 260 yards and a touchdown, but also was intercepted three times. Eric Truvillion and Sam Platt had seven catches apiece, for 81 and 56 yards, respectively, and Truvillion scored a TD while Platt also led the club in rushing with 46 yards on 10 attempts.

“Philadelphia played well,” said a frustrated Coach Steve Spurrier,” but we hurt ourselves a lot. We were just a little bit away from making the big plays.”

The Stars continued to play well and cruised to a 15-3 record, reaching the USFL Championship game before falling to the Michigan Panthers. Tampa Bay won its next three games but collapsed down the stretch and ended up at 11-7, third in the Central Division and out of the playoffs. 

The win over the Bandits was the sixth hundred-yard rushing game for Kelvin Bryant, who led the USFL at that point with 929 yards, and in the end he was second to New Jersey’s Herschel Walker with 1442 yards, scoring 16 touchdowns along the way. He also caught 53 passes for another 410 yards and a score and received MVP honors from the league.

April 28, 2016

Highlighted Year: Bob Boyd, 1954

Offensive End, Los Angeles Rams




Age: 26
4th season in pro football & with Rams
College: Loyola Marymount
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 200

Prelude:
Boyd was a versatile athlete in college (track & field and boxing as well as football) and was the NCAA champion in the 100-yard dash as a senior. Undrafted by the NFL, he signed with the Rams in 1950 and was a backup among a talented group of receivers during his first two seasons, catching a total of 18 passes for 348 yards (19.3 avg.) and five touchdowns. After missing the ’52 season due to military service, Boyd broke out in 1953 with 24 pass receptions for 548 yards and a league-leading 22.8 yards per catch.

1954 Season Summary
Appeared in all 12 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 53 [3] 
Most receptions, game – 8 (for 128 yds.) at Detroit 10/10, (for 131 yds.) vs. Chi. Bears 10/24
Yards – 1212 [1]
Most yards, game – 157 (on 5 catches) vs. San Francisco 10/3
Average gain – 22.9 [2]
TDs – 6 [11, tied with Dorne Dibble & Ray Mathews]

Scoring
TDs – 6 [20, tied with five others]
Points – 36

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: AP, NY Daily News
2nd team All-NFL: UPI
Pro Bowl

Rams went 6-5-1 to finish fourth in the NFL Western Conference while leading the league in total yards (5187).

Aftermath:
Boyd’s production dropped in 1955 as he missed five games with a knee injury, ending up with just 22 catches for 383 yards (17.4 avg.) and three touchdowns. He played two more seasons, grabbing 30 passes for 586 yards (19.5 avg.) and 7 TDs in ’56 and 29 for 534 yards (18.4 avg.) in 1957. Overall, Boyd caught 176 passes for 3611 yards (20.5 avg.) and 28 touchdowns over the course of seven seasons and 79 games, all with the Rams. Noteworthy for the speed he brought to LA’s passing attack, the 1954 season was the only one in which Boyd received All-NFL and Pro Bowl honors.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Percentage, Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

April 26, 2016

1985: Redskins Obtain George Rogers from Saints


A trade that had been widely rumored was finalized on the afternoon of April 26, 1985 as the Washington Redskins dealt their first pick in the upcoming NFL draft to New Orleans for RB George Rogers plus the Saints’ fifth, tenth, and eleventh-round draft choices.

The 26-year-old, power-running Rogers had won the 1980 Heisman Trophy while at South Carolina. Chosen in the first round of the ’81 NFL draft by the Saints, he had a big rookie season, rushing for a league-leading 1674 yards with 13 touchdowns. The 6’2”, 225-pound Rogers was a consensus first-team All-NFL choice and was named to the Pro Bowl, an honor he received again in the strike-shortened 1982 season when he rushed for 535 yards in six games and the Saints contended for a playoff spot.  

However, there were off-field drug problems and Rogers was further hampered by a knee injury in ’83. He still ran for 1144 yards in 13 games but, in 1984, found competition from newly-acquired RB Earl Campbell, who was obtained from the Houston Oilers and reunited with Bum Phillips, once head coach in Houston and now in New Orleans. Rogers’ rushing total fell to 914 yards and he scored only two touchdowns. After four seasons and 4267 rushing yards, the Saints were willing to swing the trade with Washington (and would find that the once-great Campbell was at the end of his Hall of Fame career).

The Redskins were still a fundamentally sound team under Head Coach Joe Gibbs, having won back-to-back NFC Championships in 1982 and ’83, with the former resulting in a Super Bowl victory, and topped the NFC East with an 11-5 record in 1984 before succumbing to the Bears in the Divisional playoff round.

However, Washington’s once-formidable ground game had become a source of concern due to uncertainty surrounding star RB John Riggins, who rushed for 1239 yards but was 35 years old and hindered by a back injury, and Joe Washington, who was 31 and missed nine games with a knee injury (and was separately traded to Atlanta for draft choices).

Riggins returned to the club for the 1985 season, but it was Rogers carrying most of the rushing load. He accumulated four hundred-yard performances, capping the year with 206 yards on 34 attempts in a win against the Cardinals. Overall, he gained 1093 yards on 231 carries, for a career-best 4.7-yard average, and scored seven touchdowns. Riggins contributed 677 yards and Keith Griffin, handling the third-down role that had been Joe Washington’s specialty, gained 473 rushing yards and caught 37 passes for 285 more (Rogers and Riggins had ten catches between them). The team went 10-6, but while the Cowboys and Giants did likewise, tiebreakers put Washington third in the NFC East and out of the playoffs.

With Riggins retired in 1986, Rogers carried 303 times for 1203 yards (4.0 avg.) and a league-leading 18 touchdowns. The Redskins grabbed a Wild Card slot with their 12-4 record and, in his first opportunity to appear in the postseason, Rogers added another 202 yards on the ground, but while that included 115 yards on 29 carries in a first round win over the Rams, he was held to 15 yards on nine attempts in the NFC Championship loss to the Giants.

Rogers spent an injury-plagued 1987 season running for 613 yards in 11 games and saw limited action in the Super Bowl victory over Denver in which RB Timmy Smith, a little-used reserve during the regular season, gained 204 yards on 22 carries. It was the end of the line for Rogers at age 29. He retired, citing nagging injuries. Overall for his three seasons with the Redskins, he ran the ball 697 times for 2909 yards (4.2 avg.) and scored 31 touchdowns. Rarely used as a pass receiver, he had 11 catches for 76 yards.

As for the rest of the transaction involving Rogers, the 1985 draft choices that Washington received were used to take RB Raphael Cherry from Hawaii in the fifth round, Texas RB Terry Orr in the tenth, and G Raleigh McKenzie of Tennessee in the eleventh. Cherry was converted to strong safety, started five games as a rookie when veteran Tony Peters was injured, and intercepted two passes in his only season with the Redskins. Orr was on injured reserve and thus saw no action in ’85 but, utilized at tight end, spent most of the next eight years with Washington and caught 52 passes. McKenzie didn’t contribute much in his first year but he ended up staying with the Redskins until 1994 and started a total of 113 games at both left and right guard as well as center. He moved on to the Eagles in ’95 and finished his career with Green Bay in 2000.

With the first round pick obtained from Washington, which was 24th overall, the Saints selected Tennessee LB Alvin Toles. He spent four seasons with the club, primarily as a reserve among a strong corps of linebackers, and his career was cut short by a serious knee injury during the 1988 season.

April 25, 2016

Highlighted Year: Chad Brown, 1996

Linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers



Age: 26
4th season in pro football & with Steelers
College: Colorado
Height: 6’2”   Weight: 240

Prelude:
A four-year starter in college, Brown was chosen by the Steelers in the second round of the 1993 NFL draft. He moved into the starting lineup at inside linebacker due to an injury to Jerry Olsavsky and, while a raw talent, performed ably with three sacks, two forced fumbles, and 69 tackles. Brown excelled in 1994 as part of an outstanding linebacker corps, compiling 8.5 sacks and 90 tackles, and was used as a rushing defensive end on passing downs. He missed six games due to injuries in ’95. After three years, Brown totaled 17 sacks and 218 tackles.

1996 Season Summary
Appeared in 14 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Sacks – 13 [5, tied with four others]
Most sacks, game – 4.5 vs. Cincinnati 10/13
Multi-sack games – 3
Interceptions – 2
Most interceptions, game – 1 vs. Cincinnati 10/13, at Cincinnati 11/10
Int. return yards – 20
Most int. return yards, game – 16 at Cincinnati 11/10
Int. TDs – 0
Fumble recoveries – 2
Forced fumbles – 3
Tackles – 50
Assists – 31

Postseason: 2 G
Sacks – 4
Most sacks, game – 3 vs. Indianapolis, AFC Wild Card playoff
Interceptions – 1
Int. return yards – 0
TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, Sporting News
1st team All-AFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Steelers went 10-6 to finish first in the AFC Central while leading the conference in sacks (51), fewest total yards allowed (4362), fewest passing yards allowed (2947), and fewest points allowed (257). Won AFC Wild Card playoff over Indianapolis Colts (42-14). Lost AFC Divisional playoff to New England Patriots (28-3).

Aftermath:
Brown departed the Steelers for Seattle as a free agent in 1997. Playing at right OLB in a 4-3 scheme, he led the Seahawks with 104 tackles while also registering 6.5 sacks and scoring two touchdowns among his four fumble recoveries. Brown was credited with a career-high 149 tackles in ’98, receiving consensus first-team All-NFL honors and garnering the first of two consecutive Pro Bowl selections. He spent a total of eight seasons with Seattle, continuing to be a fine playmaker if also showing signs of wear. He left the Seahawks after the 2004 season and, in his last three years, played for the Patriots twice with a return to Pittsburgh in between. Overall, over the course of 15 seasons and 188 games, Brown compiled six interceptions, 15 fumble recoveries, three of which were returned for TDs, 79 sacks, and over a thousand tackles. He received consensus first-team All-NFL honors twice and was chosen to three Pro Bowls.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

April 24, 2016

Highlighted Year: Harold Carmichael, 1973

Wide Receiver, Philadelphia Eagles


Age: 24 (Sept. 22)
3rd season in pro football & with Eagles
College: Southern
Height: 6’8”   Weight: 225

Prelude:
A quarterback in high school, Carmichael shifted to wide receiver in college. With concerns about his tall but lean frame being able to hold up in pro football, he was chosen by the Eagles in the seventh round of the 1971 NFL draft and spent the first two years of his career being tried at tight end as well as wide receiver and missing time due to injuries. He caught a total of 40 passes in 1971 and ’72 for 564 yards and two touchdowns. With WR Harold Jackson traded to the Rams for QB Roman Gabriel, and new Head Coach Mike McCormack committing to Carmichael at the open wide receiver slot, he broke out in ’73. In combination with 6’3” WR Don Zimmerman and 6’4” TE Charle Young, he became the tallest member of the “Fire High Gang”.

1973 Season Summary
Appeared in all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 67 [1] 
Most receptions, game – 12 (for 187 yds.) at St. Louis 10/14
Yards – 1116 [1]
Most yards, game – 187 (on 12 catches) at St. Louis 10/14
Average gain – 16.7 [14]
TDs – 9 [4, tied with Isaac Curtis]
100-yard receiving games – 5

Rushing
Attempts – 3
Yards – 42
Average gain – 14.0
TDs – 0

Scoring
TDs – 9 [10, tied with four others]
Points – 54

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: PFWA, Pro Football Weekly
2nd team All-NFL: AP, NEA
1st team All-NFC: AP, Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Eagles went 5-8-1 to finish third in the NFC East while leading the NFL in passing yards (2998).

Aftermath:
Carmichael’s pass reception and yardage totals in 1973 remained his career highs, but he continued to be a key element in Philadelphia’s offense for another ten seasons. Lacking speed, Carmichael used his height and dependable hands to good advantage, and was difficult to bring down in the open field. He caught 56 passes for 649 yards and eight touchdowns in ’74, garnering second-team All-NFC recognition from UPI. After three seasons of less than 50 catches with a club that struggled on offense, Carmichael had 55 receptions for 1072 yards (averaging a career-best 19.5 yards) and 8 TDs in 1978, the first of two consecutive years in which he received first-team All-NFC honors and three straight in which he was chosen to the Pro Bowl. He had a career-high 11 scoring receptions in ’79, the same year in which he broke the record for consecutive games with pass receptions, a streak that eventually reached 127 and served as a testament to his durability as well as reliability. Carmichael departed the Eagles after the 1983 season holding club records with 589 catches, 8978 receiving yards, and 79 touchdowns. He appeared in two games with Dallas in 1984, his last season, and caught one pass for seven yards to top out his career total at 590, which ranked fifth in NFL history at the time. Carmichael received first-team All-NFL recognition once, first- or second-team All-NFC honors after five other seasons, and was chosen to four Pro Bowls.  

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Percentage, Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

April 21, 2016

Highlighted Year: Tim Brown, 1988

Wide Receiver, Los Angeles Raiders


Age: 22
1st season in pro football
College: Notre Dame
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 190

Prelude:
The versatile Brown was utilized primarily as a flanker in college and also as a runner from scrimmage and kick returner. He ended up as Notre Dame’s all-time pass receiving yardage leader (2493 on 137 catches), returned six kicks (three punts and three kickoffs) for touchdowns, and won the 1987 Heisman Trophy as well as receiving consensus All-American honors. Brown was chosen by the Raiders in the first round of the 1988 NFL draft (sixth overall) and had an impact both as a pass receiver and kick returner.

1988 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 43      
Most receptions, game – 8 (for 95 yds.) vs. Kansas City 10/30
Yards – 725
Most yards, game – 114 (on 4 catches) at Seattle 11/28
Average gain – 16.9 [15]
TDs – 5
100-yard receiving games – 1

Rushing
Attempts – 14
Most attempts, game – 3 (for 17 yds.) at Denver 9/26, (for 13 yds.) vs. Miami 10/9, (for 17 yds.) vs. Atlanta 11/20
Yards – 50
Most yards, game – 17 yards (on 3 carries) at Denver 9/26, (on 3 carries) vs. Atlanta 11/20
Average gain – 3.6
TDs – 1

Kickoff Returns
Returns – 41 [1, tied with Joe Cribbs]
Yards – 1098 [1]
Most yards, game – 178 (on 5 ret.) at Seattle 11/28
Average per return – 26.8 [1]
TDs – 1 [1, tied with seven others]
Longest return – 97 yards

Punt Returns
Returns – 49 [2]
Yards – 444 [3]
Most yards, game – 102 (on 7 ret.) at San Diego 11/6
Average per return – 9.1 [14]
TDs – 0
Longest return – 36 yards

All-Purpose yards – 2317 [1]

Scoring
TDs – 7
Points – 42

Awards & Honors:
1st team All-NFL: PFWA, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
1st team All-AFC: Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Raiders went 7-9 to finish third in the AFC West.

Aftermath:
Brown’s 1989 season ended with torn knee ligaments in the opening game and he was slow to come back, following up with a mediocre year in ’90. He began to return to form in 1991 and ’92, catching 36 and 49 passes, respectively, before breaking out with 80 receptions for 1180 yards and seven TDs in 1993. It was the first of seven straight seasons in which he had at least 80 catches and nine consecutive thousand-yard receiving totals, with highs of 104 receptions and 1408 yards in 1997. While lacking his former speed, Brown remained a dangerous runner after the catch. He stayed with the Raiders, who returned to Oakland in 1995, through the 2003 season, a total of 16 years, and caught 1070 passes for 14,734 yards and 99 touchdowns, all franchise records, as well as his 104 total TDs. He finished up with Tampa Bay in 2004, bringing his career totals to 1094 pass receptions, which ranked third in NFL history at the time, for a second-ranked 14,934 yards and 100 TDs. He added another 45 catches for 581 yards and three TDs in 12 postseason games. As a kick returner, he averaged 25.2 yards on 49 kickoff returns with one TD and 10.2 yards on 326 punt returns, scoring three touchdowns. In all, he compiled 19,682 all-purpose yards, the league’s fifth highest total at the time. Brown received consensus first-team All-NFL honors once, at least some first-team recognition after one other season, was first- or second-team All-AFC seven times, and was selected to nine Pro Bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2015.

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Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

April 19, 2016

2004: Patriots Obtain Corey Dillon from Bengals


On April 19, 2004 the New England Patriots obtained accomplished but discontented RB Corey Dillon from the Cincinnati Bengals. To do so they traded a second-round draft pick to Cincinnati that had previously been obtained from Miami (the Bengals used it to select Maryland FS Madieu Williams, who moved into the starting lineup as a rookie but had problems with injuries during his four years with the club).

The 29-year-old Dillon (he turned 30 during the 2004 season) was Cincinnati’s all-time rushing leader, having gained 8061 yards over the course of seven seasons, and was selected to the Pro Bowl three times. He further held a total of 18 franchise records at the time that included most rushing yards in a season (1435). At 6’1” and 225 pounds he had the size to be a punishing runner between the tackles while also possessing speed and elusiveness.

Dillon, who played collegiately at the Univ. of Washington, was originally chosen by the Bengals in the second round of the 1997 NFL draft and came on strong in the second half of his rookie year, gaining 933 of his 1129 rushing yards and scoring 8 of 10 TDs in the last eight games, highlighted by a 246-yard, four-touchdown performance in his fifth contest as a starter. It was the first of six consecutive seasons reaching the thousand-yard rushing threshold. Along the way Dillon had two more 200-yard single-game performances, including a then-league record 278 against the Broncos in 2000.

Dillon began sharing the rushing duties with RB Rudi Johnson in 2003 and had been pushing for a trade, complaining that he should be carrying more of the load. Following a season-ending loss to the Browns at Paul Brown Stadium, Dillon reportedly threw some of his equipment into the stands. He had further gotten into a public spat with OT Willie Anderson, calling him “a bum” on a sports radio show after the Pro Bowl tackle accused Dillon of being selfish at a point when the Bengals were still in playoff contention.

Reportedly, Coach Belichick laid down ground rules to Dillon prior to the trade being finalized. “We are very excited about Corey Dillon becoming a Patriot,” the coach said in reaction to the deal being completed. “Corey joins Kevin Faulk and our other very good backs to deepen an already competitive running back position.”

The Patriots had won two NFL Championships in the previous three years, including 2003, without a feature running back in an offense largely propelled by the passing of QB Tom Brady. Antowain Smith had been a stalwart, if plodding, ground gainer since arriving in 2001 and shared the duties with the more versatile Kevin Faulk in ’03, gaining 642 yards to Faulk’s 638, while Faulk caught 48 passes for 440 yards to Smith’s 92 yards on 14 receptions. The arrival of Dillon marked the end of the line in New England for the 32-year-old Smith.

Any concerns about Dillon and the wisdom of trading for him were resolved during an outstanding 2004 season. He started strong, with a 15-carry, 86-yard effort in an opening-week win over the Colts and followed with 158 yards on 32 attempts at Arizona the next week. He had four straight hundred-yard games as the Patriots got off to a 7-1 start and ended up with a total of nine such performances over the course of the season. Dillon ended up with a club-record 1635 rushing yards on 345 carries for an average gain of 4.7 yards and scored 12 touchdowns. He gained another 292 yards in three playoff games, with 144 coming in a Divisional-level win over the Colts and 75 yards on 18 carries in the Super Bowl victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. Dillon was chosen to the Pro Bowl for the first time in three years and, moreover, proved to be a leader who fit well in New England’s team-first approach.

Dillon spent two more seasons with the Patriots, rushing for lesser totals of 733 and 812 yards, although scoring 12 and 13 TDs, respectively, in 2005 and ’06. He was hindered by a bad ankle in ’05 and showed increased signs of wear in 2006, when he began to lose playing time to rookie Laurence Maroney. Released in the offseason, he ultimately retired.

In his three years in New England, Dillon gained 3180 yards on 753 rushing attempts (4.2 avg.) with 37 TDs. He also caught 52 passes for 431 yards and another two scores (Kevin Faulk continued to be the preferred receiver out of the backfield in addition to being a change-of-pace runner). In eight postseason games, he rushed for 508 yards and four TDs and accumulated 12 pass receptions for 74 yards.