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Losing games with 200 or more rushing yards

Posted by Jason Lisk on September 24, 2009

Reader Vishal Desai sent in a question this week wanting to know how uncommon it was for a team that rushed for 200 yards to lose, noting that both Dallas and Miami lost primetime games in week two. Well, that's what we are here for, especially when you compliment us.

Going back to 1978, and not including 2009, a team has rushed for 200 or more yards on 1,110 occasions. 135 of those teams lost the game. So, the short answer is, about 12.2% of the time.

A cursory and unscientific glance at that list of 135 losers provides some of the reasons why teams that rush for 200 yards lose games.

1) They really stink at passing the ball;
2) They are playing a team that is really good at passing;
3) The defense is a sieve;
4) They are a pretty good team that had an off day with turnovers;
5) They have a running back named Walter Payton(Okay, somewhat related to point #1, but more specific);
6) They are the only team in the modern era to run the Wing-T; or
7) They lose the game late, sometimes on a fluke play, like this one.

Other random notes:

--In the "thanks for opening up that old wound, Vishal" category, the Kansas City Chiefs lost 4 games from 2001-2004 in which they ran for over 200 yards, including this gem where they had over 550 total yards and still lost, and fooled me into thinking that Koren Robinson was going to be special.
--As further proof of the greatness of Payton, the Bears lost 7 games from 1978-1984 in which they ran for 200 yards. I also detailed this spectacular game for Payton in 1983 in a podcast, which was not quite a 200 yard game but was a loss.
--21 teams lost two games in the same season in which they had 200 or more rushing yards in both losses. Only the 1978 Kansas City Chiefs had more than two. They lost 5 games in which they topped 200 yards rushing. That was Marv Levy's first season and he installed the Wing-T Offense to try to protect a defense that had 8 starters age 24 or under, and rookies at every defensive line position.
--The Detroit Lions lost to the Washington Redskins three times between 1978 and 1981, and had 200+ rushing yards in all three losses.
--Nine quarterbacks have won two games in the same season, when their defense gave up 200+ rushing yards. Only Roger Staubach (1979) did it three times in the same season.
--Dan Marino is not one of those nine quarterbacks, though he is tied for the most overall since 1978, with five wins when his team gave up 200+ rushing yards.

We'll make this a trivia question: can you guess who else has won five games (1978 to present) in which his defense surrendered 200+ rushing yards?

Hints: It's not Peyton Manning (that was #4 for him on Monday night), and the quarterback in question is the only one to beat the same team twice in the same season, when his team gave up at least 200 rushing yards in both games. One of those games came in the playoffs.

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 24th, 2009 at 11:15 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.