Even the best running backs have really bad days. So do the really bad ones!
Yesterday, we counted down the 10 greatest performances in Eagles history by running backs. Today, we celebrate the 10 worst!
Usual rule applies: No back can be listed more than once. Why? Nobody wants to read about 10 Michael Haddix games!
1. Steve Van Buren, vs. Browns, Dec. 3, 1950
The game: Browns 13, Eagles 7, Cleveland Municipal Stadium
The stats: 10 carries, minus-2 yards
The story: Even Hall of Famers have bad games, and Van Buren had the worst game of his career against the Browns, who a few weeks later won the NFL Championship. Van Buren finished his career with a 4.4 rushing average. Without this game, he would have been at 4.5. The only game in Eagles history where a back had 10 or more carries and negative yards. And the 3rd-worst rushing performance ever by a Hall of Fame running back.
2. Ricky Watters, Sept. 3, 1995, vs. Buccaneers
The game: Buccaneers 21, Eagles 6, Veterans Stadium
The stats: 17 carries, 37 yards, 2 fumbles
The story: The stats were bad enough, but what made this such a disaster for Ricky in his first game as an Eagle was his notorious explanation for a lack of effort on two late but catchable passes from Randall Cunningham: “Hey, I’m not going to trip up there and get knocked out. For who? For what?” Ricky apologized the next day and went on to have three straight Pro Bowl seasons. But he never did shake the “For Who, for What” tag.
3. Al Pollard, Oct. 19, 1952, vs. Browns
The game: Browns 49, Eagles 7, Shibe Park
The stats: 5 carries, minus-11 yards
The story: Poor Al Pollard. It’s not easy to average negative 2.2 yards per carry. That’s the fewest yards in Eagles history on five or more carries and 11th-worst in NFL history by a non-quarterback. That one game drops Pollard’s career rushing average from 3.7 to 3.4.
4. Keith Byars, Oct. 26, 1986, vs. Chargers
The game: Eagles 23, Chargers 7, Veterans Stadium
The stats: 10 carries, 0 yards, 1 TD
The story: Here’s what Byars’ day looked like in order: +2, -3, -2, +7, +1, 0, -1, -3, -3, +2TD. He’s one of only three players in NFL history – and the only one in the last 65 years – with 10 or more carries, zero or fewer yards and a rushing TD. Byars’ 0 yards is the second-fewest in Eagles history on double-digit carries, two more than Van Buren against the Browns in 1952.
5. DeMarco Murray, Sept. 20, 2015, vs. Cowboys
The game: Cowboys 20, Eagles 10, Lincoln Financial Field
The stats: 13 carries, 2 yards
The story: A year earlier, Murray was a 1st-team all-pro and led the NFL in rushing for the Cowboys. But against his former team, he averaged 5.5 inches per carry (although he did catch 5 passes for 53 yards). His 2 yards are the fewest in franchise history on 13 or more carries and 9th-fewest in NFL history. It’s the worst rushing performance ever by a defending NFL rushing champion.
6. LeSean McCoy, Sept. 21, 2014, vs. Redskins
The game: Eagles 37, Redskins 34, Lincoln Financial Field
The stats: 19 carries, 22 yards
The story: McCoy’s average of 1.16 yards is 5th-lowest in NFL history on 19 or more carries. In the second half, Shady had 14 carries for 11 yards, and in the 4th quarter he was 6-for-4 rushing. McCoy averaged 4.2 yards per carry that year. Without that game, it would have been 4.4.
7. Michael Haddix, Sept. 22, 1985, vs. Redskins
The game: Eagles 19, Redskins 6, RFK Stadium
The stats: 14-for-20 rushing, 1 catch, minus-3 yards
The story: Haddix had 38 career games with an average of 2.5 or worse. During his career – from 1983 through 1990 – only one running back (Tony Paige) had more (40). But his performance against the Redskins in 1985 was historic. His 1.4 rushing average is 3rd-worst in Eagles history on a minimum of 14 carries. But factor in his negative-3 receiving yards and you have 15 touches for 17 yards. That’s the 2nd-fewest scrimmage yards in Eagles history on at least 15 touches (read below for the only worse game). He’s one of only eight players in NFL history to average 1.4 yards per game or worse and have minus-3 receiving yards in the same game!
8. Bryce Brown, Dec. 9, 2012, vs. Buccaneers
The game: Eagles 23, Buccaneers 21, Raymond James Stadium
The stats: 12 carries for 6 yards
The story: This is called coming back down to Earth. In the previous two games, filling in for injured LeSean McCoy, the rookie 7th-round pick rushed 43 times for 347 yards and four TDs. Needless to say it’s the worst performance in NFL history by a back coming off consecutive 165-yard performances. The 4th-lowest rushing average in Eagles history on 12 or more carries.
9. Heath Sherman, Oct. 6, 1991, vs. Buccaneers
The game: Buccaneers 14, Eagles 13, Tampa Stadium
The stats: 35 carries, 89 yards
The story: When you have Brad Goebel at QB, you have to try to run the ball, and Rich Kotite tried and tried and tried and tried. The Bucs stacked the box, Heath Sherman kept pounding and he never got anywhere. Sherman’s 89 yards are 3rd-fewest in NFL history on 35 or more carries. Best part about it is that we blasted Kotite for giving Sherman 35 carries and Keith Byars and Robert Drummond a combined three carries. So the next week Heath goes 7-for-29 in a loss to the Saints and we ask Kotite why he didn’t get more carries, and Kotite flips out: “Last week it was too many carries, now it’s not enough carries! It’s ABSURD! It’s ABSURD!”
10. Wilbert Montgomery, Dec. 24, 1978, vs. Falcons
The game: Falcons 14, Eagles 13 [wild-card game]
The stats: 16 carries, 19 yards, 1 TD, 1 catch, minus-5 yards
The story: Two years later, Montgomery would have one of the greatest games in NFL postseason history. But in the grim loss to the Falcons – that’s the one Mike Michel’s missed PAT cost the Eagles at least overtime – Montgomery had one of the worst games in NFL playoff history. His 19 yards are 3rd-fewest in NFL postseason history on 15 or more carries and his 14 scrimmage yards are the fewest in NFL postseason history and 3rd-fewest in NFL history in any game on at least 17 touches.
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