Arian Foster won the rushing title for a bad 6-10 team that gave up a lot of points.
This left me wondering how difficult -- and perhaps uncommon -- it is for the league’s most productive running back to come from a losing team that spent a fair share of time playing from behind and needing to throw the ball.
The answer, from Keith Hawkins of ESPN Stats & Info, is that it’s not all that uncommon.
Here is a list of the running backs since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 who have won the league’s rushing total despite playing on a losing team.
A few points:
It’s a lot rarer if your name isn’t OJ Simpson or Barry Sanders.
Foster was just the fourth back to do it under the current playoff format, installed in 1990.
Foster was just the sixth back to do it since the league went to a 16-game schedule in 1978.
Other Foster notes on a truly remarkable season:
His 1,616 rushing yards were the most by an undrafted player in NFL history, topping Priest Holmes 1,615 for Kansas City in 2002.
He is the third player in NFL history to record 1,600 or more rushing yards and 600 or more receiving yards in a season. He finished the year with 1,616 rushing yards and 604 receiving yards. The others were LaDainian Tomlinson (1,645 and 725 in 2003) and Holmes (1,615 and 672 in 2002).
He won the title over Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles by 149 yards.
He tied Tennessee’s Chris Johnson with eight 100-yard games.
His 231-yard effort in the season opener versus Indianapolis (9/12) was the best in the league, and his 180-yard performance against Jacksonville (1/2) was the fourth-best individual rushing game of the season.