There are few more thrilling events in an NFL game than the sight of a running back bursting through the defensive line and charging downfield. Like the 100 metres at an Olympic Games, the combination of speed and power is a sight to behold, particularly if that ball carrier can convert his fine start into a touchdown.
In NFL history, there have only been two players to rush the entire length of the field to score a touchdown, proving just how tough it is when you consider the average NFL game contains somewhere between 134 and 168 plays, according to Pro Football Reference.
We are going to rank the top five longest touchdown runs right here, starting with a man who is the only player in NFL history to rush over 95 yards a touchdown twice.
5. Lamar Miller – 97 yards
Incredibly, Lamar Miller has gone wire-to-wire on two occasions to register 97-yard touchdowns and both scores have occurred in divisional match ups.
Miller first achieved the feat when representing the Miami Dolphins in a Week 17 game against AFC East foes the New York Jets. Having forced a turnover on downs three yards from their own endzone in the third quarter, the Fins handed the ball off to Miller and he went the length of the field untouched to give Miami a 24-14 lead. The Jets would come back to win the game 37-24 but it was the play from Miller that is best remembered.
Four years later, the University of Miami alumni did it again when on the Houston Texans. Miller had to work a little harder for his touchdown this time with opponents Tennessee at least getting in a couple of half-hearted tackles but there was no stopping the Texans back as he outsprinted the Titans secondary.
This time the second quarter TD meant a little more as it helped Houston rack up an eighth straight win in the Week 12 match up.
4. Ahman Green – 98 yards
Green is a Packers legend, holding the franchise’s all-time rushing record and recording two of Green Bay’s three 90-plus yard rushing touchdowns. In 2004, he went 90 yards in a Week Seven win over the Dallas Cowboys but it was his achievement 12 months earlier that earns him a spot on this list.
A Week 17 rout of the Denver Broncos offered Green the opportunity to pen another piece of Packers’ folklore as he exploded through a sizeable gap in Denver’s line before pulling clear of any would-be tacklers to score. Green set a franchise record for rushing yards in the 31-3 win as he piled up 218 yards and two touchdowns.
3. Ronald Jones – 98 yards
Ronald Jones has barely had a sniff in the Tamp Bay offence this year but less than 12 months ago he was ripping off the biggest run in Buccaneers’ history. Backed up in their own endzone after a punt by Carolina in an NFC South Week 10 encounter, the Bucs needed a way out of trouble and Jones provided.
Jones was able to find a gap and sprint down the field, the Panthers secondary failing to keep up as the Tampa Bay running back hit 19.49 miles per hour. It was a crucial score in the third quarter as it ended any Panthers’ resistance, Tampa Bay extending their lead to 26-17 as they went on to win 46-23. Of course, much bigger wins would await as the Bucs clinched the Super Bowl later in the season
2. Tony Dorsett – 99 yards
The original 99 yarder was the great Tony Dorsett, who went the length of the field in a Monday Night Football encounter in Minnesota in 1983. The Hall of Famer used his lighting quick reactions to get out of the Dallas Cowboys endzone and then he was gone, sidestepping one Vikings defender and stiff-arming another to reach the endzone.
The touchdown would be in vain as Dallas lost the season finale 31-27 but provided a nice moment for a man for enjoyed plenty of success as a Cowboy, Dorsett finishing his career with 12,739 rushing yards and one Super Bowl title to his name.
He’d be the only member of the 99 yard club for 35 years until being joined by the current rushing king.
1. Derrick Henry – 99 yards
The achievements of Dorsett and Henry are both incredible but for the superhuman strength and power it took for Henry to finish off his 99-yard run, he gets top billing on our list. King Henry’s run has to be seen to be believed as he manhandled three Jacksonville Jaguar defenders on route to the endzone. He also doesn’t get as clean a start to his run as the rest of the names on this list.
Henry’s wire-to-wire run capped a remarkable night for the Tennessee Titans running back as he racked up a franchise-record 238 yards and four touchdowns in a 30-9 demolition of their AFC South rivals. We’ve got used to seeing Henry throw grown men around like they are toys while breaking off big runs but this was something extra special.