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Bengals Moments: Corey Dillon Breaks the Rushing Record

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In a season where the Bengals started by losing their first six games, they needed a spark. It came in Week 8 from a running back named Corey Dillon.

There wasn't much to be excited about for Bengals fans during the 2000 season.

The season was shaping up to be the 10th consecutive year with a non winning football team in Cincinnati. The dark ages as we remember them now. The Bengals were entering Week 8 with an 0 and 6 record. Head coach Bruce Coslet had resigned and promoted coach Dick LeBeau's team had failed to properly break in the new Paul Brown Stadium with a victory.

One of the knocks on the 2000 roster was the lack of a running game. Akili Smith was trying to figure out the NFL game as the top pick in the draft. He wasn't having much success. The opposing defenses the Bengals faced were able to stack the box and stifle the offense. The closest game coming into Week 8 was a 9 point loss to the Titans. The Bengals had been shut out 3 times.

However, more than 61,000 fans showed up October 22nd to watch the Bengals take on the Denver Broncos and their No. 2 ranked run defense. The Broncos only gave up 65 yards rushing per game on average that season and looked to be another up-hill battle for the Bengals.

Denver opened the game with an easy 80 yard touchdown. When Mike Anderson punched in a one yard touchdown in the second quarter to put the Bengals down 14 - 3, fans started to boo. Then, there was a spark. Peter Warrick took a handoff, noticed the defense over pursuing and cut back. Following his lead blocker (Akili Smith) he took the ball 77 yards for a touchdown.

From then on, the Bengals ran the football. The tough running Corey Dillon was able to also take advantage of an over eager defense and extend runs. By the second half, the Bengals had given up even attempting to pass the ball. Smith was lost to a pinched nerve in his neck and the Bengals could seemingly run the football non-stop. As a matter of fact, the Bengals only completed two passes on the day. Both of them in the first quarter.

As the game shifted to the Corey Dillon show, fans were ecstatic. Dillon was banging and cutting his way through the Broncos defense with ease. As the fourth quarter came around, the Bengals had a chance to win this game. With five minutes to go, Dillon broke a 65 yard touchdown run to put the Bengals ahead by 10.

The Broncos were not going away, quickly Quarterback Brian Griese found Rod Smith in the endzone for a score to make it a 3 point game. If Denver could stop the Bengals on their next possession, they had the opportunity to steal this game. Chances were good the Bengals were going to stick to the run.

Corey Dillon once again put the team on his back. With less than two minutes to go, Dillon once again broke free. While the run was only for 41 yards, it was the last 3 that were the most important. In scoring this touchdown, Dillon had not only secured the win, he secured his spot in history. Dillon had just amassed 278 yards rushing, more than any player in NFL history in a single game. This broke the 23 year record previously held by Walter Payton.

As Dillon returned to the sidelines, the flashing on the scoreboard had caught his attention. He read it as the fans did, he owned the record. Up to this point he knew he was having a good day, but had no idea how good. He collapsed on the sidelines while teammates covered him in Gatorade.

Dillion Gatorade

The Bengals season finished as it started, a 4-12 record is nothing to boast about. However, for that brief moment, the Bengals were on top of the world. They had a whopping total of 407 yards rushing in a game where they never had to pass. The NFL world tipped a hat to a running back who beat a record that had stood for so long.

Broncos players even recognized the accomplishment. "We focused on him all week long and he still did a tremendous job," Broncos safety Billy Jenkins said. "When you let a guy set an NFL record against you, that's the epitome of embarrassment."

I remember the game well and Dillon will always have a special spot in my mind. He was one of the toughest running backs the Bengals have had and he left it all on the field.