Cincinnati Bengals rookie running back Jeremy Hill ripped off the fifth-longest run in Cincinnati Bengals history Monday night in the team’s 37-28 victory against Denver, but it’s hard to imagine any of the four longer ones having greater significance.
Hill’s 85-yard touchdown run came one play after Denver cornerback Aqib Talib intercepted Andy Dalton and returned the ball 33 yards for a touchdown that gave the Broncos a 7-0 lead just 4 minutes and 32 seconds into the game.
In addition to evening the score, Hill kick-started an impressive performance that put him in some elite company.
He finished with 147 yards on 22 carries, which – according to Stats LLC – makes him the third rookie in NFL history to have at least four games with 140 or more rushing yards. Eric Dickerson did it five times with the Los Angeles Rams in 1983, while Curtis Martin accomplished the feat four times with New England in 1995.
Hill also joins DeMarco Murray as the only backs with four or more 140-yard games this season, and he is the first player in Bengals history to do it.
And he became the first Cincinnati rookie to eclipse 1,000 yards (1,024) since Corey Dillon did it in 1997.
“It’s not something I’ll think about right now, but after the season I’ll look back on it and really appreciate,” Hill said of the 1,000-yard milestone. “Not too many people have gone over 1,000 in their rookie year, especially in the role I’ve been in. It’s really been a blessing.”
The Broncos came into the game with the No. 1-ranked rushing defense in the league, allowing 71 yards per game. But Hill topped that with one run, and by halftime the Bengals had 166. They finished with 207, marking the second consecutive week they have topped 200.
“To hit that 200 mark today, I think we were a little disappointed,” Cincinnati left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “We wanted to go for 300 after that first half. We hit a couple of plays where, when people break down film, we’ll see they could’ve actually been house calls with one little play here or there. We had a chance to do it, and we didn’t do it.”
The last time the Bengals rushed for 200 yards in back-to-back games was in 2003 when they did it in three straight against Houston (240), Kansas City (200) and San Diego (210).
While the 85-yard touchdown was the fifth longest run in Bengals annals, it was only the second longest of the season. Giovani Bernard went 89 yards for a touchdown in the Carolina game. Corey Dillon holds the franchise record with a 96-yarder in 2001, followed by Bernard, Paul Robinson (87 in 1968) and Essex Johnson (86 in 1971).
The longest run Denver had allowed all year was 27 yards by St. Louis’ Tre Mason, and the most they had allowed in a game was 133 in Week 2 against Kansas City.
Hill’s accomplishments were tempered by a third-quarter fumble on first and goal at the 8, a mistake that led to the Broncos going on a 91-yard touchdown drive for a go-ahead score.
“I don’t know if they had the cameras on me on TV, but I beat myself up pretty bad about it,” Hill said. “It’s something I’m not used to do it. But it happened. I can’t change it. I just have to learn from it.”