Remembering Barry Sanders’ Record Setting Day [Video]
On this day in 1997, Sanders became only the third person in NFL history to rush for more than 2000 yards in a single season. But it turned out to be a bittersweet moment.
On December 21, 1997, the atmosphere in the Pontiac Silverdome was raucous. The Lions, embroiled in a tight game with the New York Jets that had playoff implications for both teams, knew their star running back was close to the elusive 2000-yard plateau and the crowd knew it, too.
“It was so loud,” Lions defensive end Robert Porcher later recalled, “the turf was vibrating.”
But then the throng of over 80,000 fans silenced. While tackling Jets running back Adrian Murrell, the Lions' Reggie Brown injured his back and fell with a sick thud to the turf. It would be 17 minutes before Lions medical personnel could revive Brown. CPR had saved his life.
Brown would later recover, but he would never set foot on a playing field again.
Sanders, meanwhile, finally hit the 200 yard plateau with a two-yard scamper in the fourth quarter. But Sanders didn't stop there, taking off on a 53 yard run that would ice the Lions 13-10 victory and a place in the playoffs on the final game of the season.
Sanders was the third player to hit 2,000 yards, after O.J. Simpson and Eric Dickerson. His total from 1997 is now the fourth highest season yardage ever.