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On This Date in Sports September 14, 2003: Jamal Lewis' Run for the Record

Jamal Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens sets a new single-game rushing record by running for 295 yards. Lewis, who had touchdown runs of 82 and 63 yards, leads Baltimore to a 33-13 win over the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium. Jamal Lewis broke the three-year-old record of Corey Dillon with 278 yards. Lewis’ record lasted four years before Adrian Peterson topped it with the Minnesota Vikings.

The single-game rushing record was a venerable mark set by Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears in 1977 when he ran for 275 against the Minnesota Vikings on November 20, 1977. Before Sweetness, the record was held by O.J. Simpson, who led the Buffalo Bills with a 250-yard game against the New England Patriots in 1973. O.J. toped his mark three years later, running for 273 yards on Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions. The Payton record would stand for over 20 years before Corey Dillon with the Cincinnati Bengals torched the Denver Broncos for 278 yards on October 22, 2000.

Jamal Lewis was born on August 26, 1979, in Atlanta. He was a big part of the Tennessee National Championship run in 1998. A year later, he was chosen with the fifth overall pick by the Baltimore Ravens in the 2000 NFL Draft. Lewis had an impressive rookie season, rushing for 1,364 yards with six touchdowns, as Baltimore won Super Bowl XXXV. In the Super Bowl win against the New York Giants, Jamal Lewis rushed for 103 yards with a touchdown.

The 2001 season would end before it ever began for Jamal Lewis when he tore his ACL in training camp. The injury was part of the first season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks.” Lewis returned in 2002 and bounced back to form, running for 1,327 yards with six touchdowns, nearly matching the numbers from his rookie season. In 2003, Jamal Lewis began the season by rushing for 69 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown during a 34-15 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

After losing to the Steelers, the Ravens, coached by Brian Billick, hosted the Cleveland Browns in their home opener. The Browns, led by Butch Davis, had lost to the Indianapolis Colts in their season opener. The day started early for Jamal Lewis as he took the game's first carry 82 yards for pay dirt, giving Baltimore a 7-0 lead. On the Ravens' second possession, Lewis had a run of 23 yards, as the drive ended in disappointment when Matt Stover missed a 45-yard field goal. The Browns were able to contain Jamal Lewis on the next series, but Stover made it 10-0 with a 20-yard boot following a turnover. Lewis and the Browns got the ball at the end of the first quarter one more time, as he ended the quarter with an eight-yard run. At the end of the first quarter, Jamal Lewis had 118 yards on ten carries.

The Browns had Jamal Lewis contained through most of the second quarter, as they got on the scoreboard with a field goal. After forcing the Ravens to punt twice, Lewis again broke a long run for 48 yards as Matt Stover was good from 40 yards to make it 13-3 in favor of the Ravens. Lewis went into halftime with 180 yards, just seven short of his career-best game, also set against the Browns.

Leading 16-3 at the half, the Ravens relied heavily on the run to keep the pressure on Cleveland. However, in the third quarter, the Browns had things interesting as they limited Lewis to 15 yards, scoring ten unanswered points.

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Holding a 16-13 lead, the Ravens got a game-breaking run from Jamal Lewis again. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Lewis took a handoff 63 yards for his second touchdown. Now at 258 yards rushing, Lewis looked to continue to break the record when the Browns got the ball back. Adding 22 yards on three carries, Lewis ran past the 278 yards set by Corey Dillion in 2000. With just over five minutes left, Jamal Lewis sat at 280 yards, a new NFL single-game record. He was handed the ball on three straight carries for 13 yards, taking the record beyond 290 yards. Jamal Lewis’ final run went two yards, and he ended the game with 295 yards on 30 carries. The Ravens would get a field goal from Stover to put the game out of reach at 26-13. They would later add a pick-six from Ed Reed as the game ended with a 33-13 victory for Baltimore. It was the first touchdown in Reed’s Hall of Fame career.

Jamal Lewis would parlay the record game into a career-making season as he was named 2003 Offensive Player of the Year with 2,066 yards and 14 touchdowns.