It’s not always the quarterback who gets all of the glory, as running backs have had some of the most memorable performances in Super Bowl history. In this article, we’ll sort through those games to rank the top five Super Bowl RB performances ever. This takes into account stats, overall impact, and the team’s performance. Let’s hop into the rankings below!
5. Emmitt Smith, Cowboys vs. Bills, Super Bowl 28
Smith piled up 132 rushing yards and two scores on 30 carries to help the Dallas Cowboys defeat the Buffalo Bills by a score of 30-13. This secured back-to-back Super Bowl wins for the Cowboys, and both victories came against the Bills. For his efforts, Smith was named Super Bowl MVP, just one of many accolades for the legendary running back.
4. John Riggins, Washington vs. Dolphins, Super Bowl 17
Check out this stat line for Riggins: 38 carries, 166 rushing yards, and a touchdown. Riggins’ ironman performance still holds the record for the most rushing attempts in the Super Bowl. His 166 rushing yards set a record at the time, which was topped twice since — more on that to come. Riggins’ 43-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter gave Washington the lead over the Miami Dolphins. It’s also considered one of the most iconic plays in Super Bowl history.
3. Marcus Allen, Raiders vs. Washington, Super Bowl 18
Remember that rushing record of 166 yards? Allen rewrote history with 191 rushing yards on 20 carries to go along with two touchdowns just one year later. The Raiders beat up on Washington with a 38-9 victory, and Allen was named Super Bowl MVP for his record-breaking performance. He’s just one of seven running backs to win Super Bowl MVP.
2. Timmy Smith, Washington vs. Broncos, Super Bowl 22
Four years after Allen’s feat, Smith broke the record for most rushing yards in a Super Bowl with 205. This game was played in 1988, and the record still stands today. In fact, there’s a chance this mark will hold up for several years to come as the league continues to transition into more of a pass-first style. Smith only accounted for 602 rushing yards in his career, but he still owns the best statistical performance of any running back in the Super Bowl.
1. Terrell Davis, Broncos vs. Packers, Super Bowl 32
If the Denver Broncos didn’t have Davis in 1998, there’s a very good chance they wouldn’t have beaten the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl 32. Davis came through with a massive effort that included 157 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries. He earned Super Bowl MVP for his contributions, which marks the last time a running back won the award.
This article can also be found in our Ultimate Guide to Super Bowl 57, presented by Frank’s Red Hot.