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On This Date in Sports December 4, 1997: Dillon Runs Down the Oilers

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Corey Dillon of the Cincinnati Bengals sets a rookie record, rushing for 246 yards with four touchdowns in a 41-14 win over the Tennessee Oilers at Cinergy Field. The previous record of 237 yards was set by Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns, who held the record for 40 years. Dillon’s record would stand until 2011 when DeMarco Murray of the Dallas Cowboys topped it.

Corey Dillon was born on October 24, 1974, in Seattle. After playing at the University of Washington, Dillon was drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round with the 43rd overall pick. Starting the season on the bench, Dillon got more carries late as the Bengals were looking to the future after falling out of the playoff chase.

 The Bengals, coached by Bruce Coslet, held a record of 4-9 as they prepared to end their season with three straight home games at Cinergy Field. The first of the three games would come against the Jeff Fisher'sTennessee Oilers, who held a record of 7-6. Earlier in the season, the Bengals were manhandled by the Oilers in Memphis 30-7. Corey Dillon immediately impacted the game, scoring from two yards out to give the Bengals a 7-0 lead after the opening drive. On the Bengals' second drive, Dillon had several big carries as the Bengals took a 14-0 lead on a Boomer Esiason pass to Tony McGee. Corey Dillon continued to rack up the yards in the third quarter, having several nice runs, before breaking one open for 31 yards to score his second touchdown of the game to make it 21-0 in favor of Cincinnati. The Bengals' fourth drive began with Corey Dillon running 59 yards to take the ball into the red zone, where he would score on a one-yard run to make it 28-0. 

Dillon added a fourth score on the Bengals' first possession of the second half, making it 35-0. The rest of the game saw Corey Dillon chewing up yards as the Bengals kept the pressure on the Oilers, eventually making it 38-0 at the end of the third quarter. Tennessee scored two meaningless touchdowns in the fourth quarter, with Doug Pelfrey adding a second field goal to make the final score 41-14. As the game wound down, all eyes were on Corey Dillon, who, after topping 200 yards, was within reach of Jim Brown’s 40-year-old record for best rushing game for a rookie. As the clock wound down, Dillon broke the record with a ten-yard burst up the middle just after the two-minute warning.

 The 246 yards as a rookie would not be the best game of Corey Dillon’s career as he broke Walter Payton’s single-game record with 278 yards in a game against the Denver Broncos on October 22, 2000, a record that would only last three seasons. Corey Dillon would finish the season with 1,129 yards on the ground. He was a consistent runner who topped 1,000 yards in his first six seasons. Dillon’s finest season came in 2004 when he ran for 1,635 yards with 12 touchdowns while winning the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. Corey Dillon would retire following the 2006 season with 11,241 yards and 82 touchdowns in his career.