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On This Date in Sports December 25, 1995: 25 Scores of Emmitt

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

Emmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys sets an NFL record by scoring his 25th touchdown of the season. Smith breaks the old record set by John Riggins with the Washington Redskins in 1983. Smith scores the record-breaker in the fourth quarter as the Cowboys crush the Arizona Cardinals 37-13 in the final game of the season on Monday Night Football. The record would be topped by Marshall Faulk of the St. Louis Rams five years later. 

 Emmitt Smith was born on May 15, 1969, in Pensacola, Florida. He was a top-rated running back at the University of Florida but was overlooked by many NFL scouts due to his size. The Cowboys chose Smith with the #17th overall, well after the New York Jets chose Blair Thomas out of Penn State. For a Cowboys team that the year before lost 15 games, Emmitt Smith’s arrival singled the start of their reemergence as an NFL powerhouse. In his first season, Smith was named Offensive Rookie of the Year, with 937 yards and 11 touchdowns. The following season, Emmitt Smith led the NFL in rushing with 1,563 yards with 12 touchdowns as the Cowboys returned to the playoffs.

 In Emmitt Smith’s third season, the Dallas Cowboys reached the promised land winning Super Bowl XXVII against the Buffalo Bills. Along the way, Smith again led the NFL in rushing with 1,713 yards with an NFL high 18 rushing touchdowns. The following year, Emmitt Smith had a much-publicized holdout, looking for a bigger contract. After Dallas lost the first two games of the 1993 season, the Cowboys agreed to make Smith the highest-paid running back in the NFL. Despite missing two games, Emmitt Smith again led the NFL in rushing with 1,486 yards with nine touchdowns. In the final game of the season with the division title on the line, Emmitt Smith, despite playing with a separated shoulder, had 229 yards from scrimmage to lead Dallas to a 16-13 win over the New York Giants at the Meadowlands. The game catapulted Emmitt Smith into legendary status as he was named the 1993 NFL MVP. The Cowboys would win a second straight Lombardi Trophy beating the Buffalo Bills again in Super Bowl XXVIII. This time, Emmitt Smith was named MVP with 132 yards rushing with two second-half touchdowns. The Dallas Cowboys would fall short of making it to a third straight Super Bowl, though Emmitt Smith remained one of the NFL's biggest stars, rushing for 1,484 yards with an NFL best 21 rushing touchdowns.

 After falling short in their quest for a third straight Lombardi Trophy, the Dallas Cowboys were out for vengeance for coach Barry Switzer in 1995. They started the season with a 35-0 win over the New York Giants at the Meadowlands on Monday Night Football. Emmitt Smith led the charge with four touchdowns. Smith was a touchdown scoring machine for the Cowboys, scoring in all but one of their 16 games, the lone exception a Week 5 loss to the Washington Redskins (27-23) at RFK Stadium. He made up for it with three touchdowns against the Oakland Raiders six weeks later as the Cowboys won 34-21. Each of Emmitt Smith’s touchdowns was on the ground as he led the NFL in rushing for the fourth time in five years with a career-best 1,773 yards. 

 

Emmitt Smith tied the record of 24 touchdowns in Week 16 as the Cowboys edged the Giants 21-20. This set the stage for the final game of the season on Monday Night Football. The Cowboys entered the game at 11-4, while the Arizona Cardinals were 4-11 as Buddy Ryan’s two-years in the desert were ending in disaster. Sun Devil Stadium was rarely filled, except when the Cowboys rolled into town, but it would be filled with America’s Team fans. The Cowboys won the game easily as the movie “Jerry McGuire” was shot at the stadium that same day. There was little drama to the outcome as Emmitt Smith finally found the end zone on a three-yard run in the fourth quarter as Dallas won 37-13. 

 Marshall Faulk with score 26 touchdowns in 2000, with eight in the air. Priest Holmes had 27 touchdowns with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2003, scoring all 27 on the ground to break Emmitt Smith’s record for rushing touchdowns. Shaun Alexander had 28 touchdowns with the Seattle Seahawks in 2005. One year later, the current record was set by LaDainian Tomlinson when he scored 31 touchdowns with28 rushing touchdowns with the San Diego Chargers.