Another career snapshot of Curtis Martin, who is in the running to be a first-year inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Dallas:
In 2004 Curtis Martin went the extra yard. And it won him his only NFL rushing title.
Martin had flirted with gaining the NFL’s most rushing yards in a season, a hallowed distinction in league annals. As a rookie with the Patriots in 1995, he finished third with 1,487 yards. In ’99 with the Jets he was second with 1,464 behind the Colts’ Edgerrin James. Two years later he rushed for 1,513 yards but still came in second by 42 yards to the Chiefs’ Priest Holmes.
Then in ’04 Martin was in a duel with the Seahawks’ Shaun Alexander for the top spot. It appeared Curt was headed for the silver medal again as he trailed Alexander by 72 yards heading into the final week of the regular season.
But Martin got first licks in a 1 p.m. ET game at St. Louis and he made the most of it, rushing for 153 yards in the 32-29 overtime loss to the Rams. That total, which included 24 yards on three OT carries, gave him a sparkling 1,697 yards for the season. It was, in fact, Martin’s career high. But would it be enough?
Yes, by that one yard in the closest rushing title in NFL history. Alexander managed 80 yards on 19 carries, and more than likely would have gotten the chance to gain those 2 yards he needed, except that the Falcons ran 15 plays and held the ball for the game’s final 4:28 en route to a touchdown on the last play of the game. Whew.
“Curtis approaches this game as his life,” said Chad Pennington, Martin’s quarterback in that game and for many others in the later years of his playing career. “He doesn’t approach it as a hobby or as something he does on weekends. He’s going to be a Hall of Famer one day because of it.”
HOF in Primetime
For the first time ever at night, the network will announce the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees, determined by the Hall’s selection committee earlier in the day, on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. “Road to Canton” will be hosted by Rich Eisen alongside Hall of Famers Steve Young, Rod Woodson and Michael Irvin, who will be joined by new inductees and current Hall members during the show.
Portions of the announcement ceremony will also be available live on NFL.com.
For the second consecutive year, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has teamed up with Van Heusen and JCPenney to allow fans to select whom they believe should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Tags: Chad Pennington, Curtis Martin, rushing title, Seattle Seahawks, Shaun Alexander, St. Louis Rams
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