Like him or not, he was one of the greatest running backs in the history of the NFL. Hard to believe that he walked away from the game some 17 years ago, but for Barry Sanders, is still remembered as one of the most hard to tackle backs in the history of the game.
Sanders played his entire 10-year career with the Lions, and never rushed for less than 1115 yards in a season (that happened in 1993).
In his 10 seasons he ran for 15,269 yards and 99 touchdowns, putting up five yards a rush on the ground.
Sanders was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004 and for good reason, if he would have stuck around he could have broken a number of records, including challenging Jim Brown at the time for the all-time rushing mark.
The former Lions back was an opponent of the Steelers four times in his career, and the Steelers fared rather well against the back.
In four games listed below, you can see the numbers that Sanders put up, only going over 100 yards in one of those games, that coming in the 1995 season opener at Three Rivers Stadium.
That day will best be recalled as the day another Hall of Famer, Steelers CB Rod Woodson, tore up his knee trying to make a tackle on Sanders on the turf at Three Rivers.
Here’s the numbers for Sanders against the Black and Gold:
October 10th 1989 at the Pontiac Silverdome – Sanders 5 rushes for 1 yard and 2 catches for 11 yards – Steelers beat the Lions 23-3. (Sanders lowest game rushing in 1989).
November 15th 1992 at Three Rivers Stadium – Sanders 21 rushes for 94 yards 1 TD (44-yard long run) and 3 catches for 23 yards in Steelers 17-14 win.
September 3rd 1995 at Three Rivers Stadium – Sanders 21 rushes for 108 yards and 2 catches 6 yards in Steelers 23-20 win.
November 26th 1998 at the Pontiac Silverdome – Sanders rushed 20 times for just 33 yards and had 1 catch for 20 yards in the famous Jerome Bettis Thanksgiving ‘coin flip’ game which the Lions won in OT 19-16.
Numbers for Sanders against the Steelers – 67 rushes for 236 yards (3.5 yards per carry, 1.5 yards less than his career average) for one touchdown. 8 catches for 60 yards.
So in the end, the Steelers fared pretty well against Sanders, if you take away that 44-yard run he had against them in the 1992 season (Bill Cowher’s first), Sanders would have had just 192 yards in four games.
A great back with a great career, but one that the Steelers held pretty much in check in their four meetings over his 10-year career.
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