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Javonte, Gordon have longshot chance to reach 1,000-1,000 distinction

Each Broncos running back has surpassed 700 yards rushing with four games remaining.

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — They will each have to pick up the pace if Broncos running backs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon III are to become only the eighth rushing duo in NFL history to each have a 1,000-yard season.

With four games remaining, Williams has 743 yards, so he will need a tick more than 64 rushing yards a game. To date he has averaged 57.2 yards. Gordon missed a game with a hip injury and has 716 yards, so he will need 71 yards a game. He has averaged 59.7 yards in his 12 games.

It won’t be easy for them to, ahem, pick up ground this week as the Cincinnati Bengals rank fourth in rushing defense, allowing just 93.1 yards per game.

Williams and Gordon are each capable of reaching the coveted 1,000-yard milestone on their own, but because they split the carries, neither may get there. Which is the whole point of why having two 1,000-yard rushers in the same season is so unique.

Credit: AP
Denver Broncos running back Melvin Gordon (25) celebrates after running back Javonte Williams (33) scored a touchdown against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Of the seven running back duos who have had thousand-thousand seasons, the most impressive were the first two – Miami’s Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris in 1972 and the Steelers’ Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier in 1976. Both accomplished the 1,000-yard doubles in 14-game seasons.

The trick was accomplished five times in 16-game seasons with quarterbacks Michael Vick and Lamar Jackson scrambling their way into distinction. Even with the added 17th game starting this year, Williams and Gordon are the only threat to the thousand-thousand double.

NFL’s 1,000-1,000 rushers:

1972, Dolphins, Csonka (1,117) and Morris (1,000)

1976, Steelers, Harris (1,128) and Bleier (1,036)

1985, Browns, Kevin Mack (1,104) and Earnest Byner (1,002)

2006, Falcons, Warrick Dunn (1,140) and Vick (1,039)

2008, Giants, Brandon Jacobs (1,089) and Derrick Ward (1,025)

2009, Panthers, Jonathan Stewart (1,133) and De’Angelo Williams (1,117)

2019, Ravens, Jackson (1,206) and Melvin Ingram Jr. (1,018)

The Broncos came close in 2005 when Mike Anderson finished with 1,104 yards and Tatum Bell had 921. Bell crossed the 1,000-yard threshold the following year, but Anderson had been released prior to that season.

As for the Broncos running back duo this year, for all the appeal Javonte Williams has with his rookie status and uncommon tackle-breaking ability, Gordon is too good to not get his touches.

“I don’t know how anybody can underappreciate his ability,’’ Broncos head coach Vic Fangio said of Gordon. “He’s run the ball very well for us for two years. We’re splitting time with him and Javonte, who’s a real good back obviously, and that’s not just to pacify Melvin or to balance it up. I mean, he’s a damn good player. I don’t know what people are looking at if they don’t have an appreciation for how he runs the ball.”

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