April 23, 2011

MVP Profile: Thurman Thomas, 1991

Running Back, Buffalo Bills



Age: 25
4th season in pro football & with Bills
College: Oklahoma State
Height: 5’10” Weight: 198

Prelude:
Drafted in the second round by Buffalo in 1988, Thomas led the NFL in total yardage in 1989 and ’90 (as he would in 1991), had over 1200 yards rushing (1244 & 1297), and was named to the Pro Bowl in both seasons as well. He also had a high of 60 catches for 669 yards in 1989. Thomas was a consensus first-team All-Pro in 1990 and performed well in the narrow Super Bowl loss to the Giants following that season.

1991 Season Summary
Appeared and started in 15 of 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Rushing
Attempts – 288 [3]
Most attempts, game - 32 (for 126 yds.) vs. New England 11/3
Yards – 1407 [3]
Most yards, game – 165 yards (on 25 carries) vs. Miami 9/1
Average gain – 4.9 [3]
TDs – 7 [12, tied with Reggie Cobb & Vince Workman]
100-yard rushing games - 8

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 62
Most receptions, game – 13 (for 112 yds.) at NY Jets 9/15
Yards – 631
Most yards, game - 112 (on 13 catches) at NY Jets 9/15
Average gain – 10.2
TDs – 5
100-yard receiving games - 2

All-purpose yards - 2038 [1]

Scoring
TDs – 12 [4, tied with Mark Clayton & Andre Rison]
Points – 72

Postseason: 3 G
Rushing attempts – 58
Most rushing attempts, game - 26 vs. Denver, AFC Championship
Rushing yards – 185
Most rushing yards, game - 100 vs. Kansas City, AFC Divisional playoff
Average gain rushing – 3.2
Rushing TDs – 1

Pass receptions – 11
Most pass receptions, game - 4 vs. Kansas City, AFC Divisional playoff, vs. Washington, Super Bowl
Pass receiving yards - 63
Most pass receiving yards, game - 27 vs. Washington, Super Bowl
Average yards per reception – 5.7
Pass Receiving TDs - 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL MVP: AP, PFWA, NEA, Sporting News
NFL Offensive Player of the Year: AP
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, NEA, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
1st team All-AFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Bills went 13-3 to win AFC East while leading the league in rushing (2381 yards) and touchdowns (58). They repeated as conference champions by winning a Divisional playoff over the Kansas City Chiefs (37-14) and AFC Championship over the Denver Broncos (10-7), but again lost the Super Bowl, this time to the Washington Redskins (37-24).

Aftermath:
Thomas ran for a career-high 1487 yards in 1992 and led the NFL in total yards for the fourth straight year. He was named to the Pro Bowl following the ’92 and ’93 seasons, but while Thomas continued to run for over a thousand yards for the next five years, his average gain slipped under four yards per carry from 1993 to ’96 and his pass receiving production also began to drop off, with one 50-catch season after ’92 and his average gain falling consistently under 10 yards per reception. In 1997, his last full year as a starting RB, Thomas ended up with under a thousand yards (643) for the first time since his rookie season and totaled 533 yards and 29 catches in his last two years with the Bills (1998 and ’99). He spent one last year as a backup with Miami in 2000. Overall, Thomas ran for 12,074 yards, caught 472 passes for 4458 more yards, and scored 88 touchdowns. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2007.

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MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself).

[Updated 2/15/14]