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TDBH: Dillon rocks into history rushing past Sir Walter with 278 yards

Posted Oct 21, 2017

This Day in Bengals History - October 22, 2000

The Broncos bounce off Bengals running back Corey Dillon today at Paul Brown Stadium as if he is made of stone.  And in a way, he is. That's at least what he writes on the white T-Shirt he wears under his shoulder pads while running for an NFL-record 278 yards on unfathomable 22 carries in an incredible 31-21 victory that comes out of nowhere for a stunned crowd of 61,603 that has just witnessed not only the Bengals’ first win of the season but their first win in the new stadium and under even newer head coach Dick LeBeau.  With one of the "Sharpie," Magic Markers he would later use to sign programs, footballs, and sideline passes, Dillon writes on the T-Shirt, "The Lord is My Rock," borrowing from his favorite Bible verse. "I had some 'Trust the Lord,' shirts, but I forgot them today," Dillon says. "I gave (linebacker Takeo) Spikes mine and I just wrote, 'The Lord is My Rock,' and he is." He better save the T-Shirt because the Pro Football Hall of Fame calls requesting his jersey, pants and shoes after he eclipses by three yards the late great Walter Payton’s 23-year-old record set against the Vikings.

Dillon makes an indelible mark in history with touchdown runs of 65 and 41 yards in the game's final 4:58. That 65-yarder? The Broncos' No. 2-ranked run defense comes into the game allowing 65 yards PER GAME on the ground. "I'm going home and going to bed. I'm tired," says Dillon, who went through a day like this three years ago when he broke Jim Brown's rookie record with 246 yards. He now owns two of the six best rushing games in history. "I mean, I still don't believe I broke the rookie record. Now this? It's crazy, isn't it?" After the last touchdown run gives the Bengals the 31-21 lead with 1:49 left, the scoreboard flashes the unthinkable.

"I said, 'Oh, my God,'" says right tackle Willie Anderson when he saw it. "As a lineman or a running back, that's one of those records you think will never be broken. Impossible. I thought the closest it would ever happen was when he got the 246. The biggest thing people will overlook is who actually has this record. Walter Payton, someone as immortal as that falls … What Corey did was un-human. He's a freak that runs with the pigskin. I don't know who in this league would have caught him today. Today was his day no matter what else goes around the NFL this week, today, or wherever."

The record has been broken three times since and is now held by Adrian Peterson with 296 yards. But only Dillon chases down Payton to break a record that stands a decade longer than the 13 years it took O.J. Simpson’s 250 to erase Jim Brown’s 237. And the record will be broken again and again. But who will do it on just 22 carries with two quarterbacks who complete only two passes and none of their five attempts in the second half? The Bengals offensive line takes advantage of the Broncos' pursuit and handles the eight-men-in-a-box nightmare that has hounded Dillon into a mere 3.5 yards per carry coming into the game. "We figured out what (teams) were doing as an offense," Anderson says. "The game plan was to block the back-side safety. The back-side runs turned to front side. So when Corey started left, (but) he may end up on the right because the (back-side blocker) just kept pushing and pushing him and he cuts it back. Corey saw a lot of holes. At the beginning of the season, he wasn't seeing the whole picture the way he was the last couple of years. But today, and the last couple of weeks, he saw everything."

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