Frank Gore passes Barry Sanders for No. 3 on rushing list: 'I'm blessed'

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Buffalo Bills running back Frank Gore became the NFL's third-leading career rusher Sunday, eclipsing the 15,269-yard mark set by Barry Sanders.

Gore officially passed Sanders on a 6-yard run in the fourth quarter of the Bills' game against the Denver Broncos. Now in his 15th season, Gore previously became the fourth player to rush for 15,000 career yards during the Bills' Week 4 game against the New England Patriots.

A model of durability, playing in 217 of 231 possible games, Gore, 36, could finish his career No. 3 on the all-time list. With 15,289 yards, he's roughly 1,500 yards from the No. 2 rusher, Walter Payton (16,726), and 3,000 yards from the all-time leader, Emmitt Smith (18,355).

The former Miami Hurricane pulled himself within striking distance on a 27-yard run midway through the third quarter before securing No. 3 on the all-time list with just over nine minutes remaining in the game. Gore had just 54 combined rushing yards in his past three games but amassed 43 yards on eight carries at the time he passed Sanders' career mark, finishing with 65 yards on 15 carries as the Bills ran for a season-high 244 yards.

"I'm happy I was able to hit this milestone at home in front of the Buffalo fans," Gore said. "It hasn't been an easy road to get to Year 15, but I am very blessed."

The fact that he even made it to his 15th season is something Gore holds in high value. And although his placement on the NFL's all-time leaderboard is important to him to some extent, it pales in comparison to his inclusion alongside the running backs he looked up to when he first entered the league.

"They told me I would be [in the NFL] two or three years. When I got drafted in the third round, they said San Francisco reached on me," he said. "After the game, when I saw all the cameras, I was like, 'Man, I passed Barry.' Barry is one of the best, if not the best to do it. ... And I'm a guy who they said wouldn't be in the league more than two or three years, and I got a chance to pass him today.

"I'm blessed."

Gore signed with the Bills this offseason after stints in Miami and Indianapolis but began his career in 2005 as the 49ers' third-round pick, rushing for 608 yards in 14 games. That still stands as the fewest yards he has rushed for in a single season; Gore ran for 1,000 or more yards in nine of the following 13 seasons, although he is projected to fall short of that mark this season.

The stats have taken a backseat for Gore this season, something his teammates have taken note of.

"I told him it was an honor to be in the backfield with him," said Bills quarterback Josh Allen, who grew up a 49ers fan. "I mean, the guy just comes in and works and doesn't say anything -- puts his head down and doesn't care about stats and numbers or this and that. He wants to help his team win football games.

"You know, at 36 years old, how well he's playing ... it's unbelievable."