Josh Jacobs wins NFL running title after ‘toughest game’

Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs is the third Alabama alumnus to win the NFL running title. Jacobs’ status became official on Sunday, a day after Jacobs starred in what he called his “hardest game.”

Jacobs ran for 45 yards on 17 carries in the Raiders 31-13 loss to Kansas City Chiefs the Saturday.

With 1,653 yards and 12 touchdowns on 340 rushing attempts, Jacobs finished the 2022 campaign with a 205-yard lead over Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb, who was second at the start of Week 18.

Sunday, in the Browns’ 28-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Chubb rushed for 77 yards on 12 carries.

Jacobs did not practice with the Raiders on Wednesday and Thursday. He left for his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma on Tuesday and didn’t return to Las Vegas until Friday night.

His father had suffered emergency heart surgery after Jacobs’ 6-year-old son called 911 to report his grandfather’s condition.

Jacobs played with “Pops” written on his black eye on Saturday.

“It’s probably the hardest game I’ve ever played, not in the physical sense or anything like that – just mentally, like trying to stay in it,” Jacobs said. “Being on the sidelines and having too much time to think, think about what’s going on and think about being the rock of your family. It’s never easy when your rock is going through it, so it’s been an interesting time for me .

Chubb did not end up second to Jacobs for the title on floor. Tennesse Titans running back Derrick Henry ran for 109 yards on 30 carries in a 20-16 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars Saturday to overtake Chubb.

Jacobs and Henry became the first players in the same college program to finish first and second in the same NFL season since 1990, when Barry Sanders of the Detroit Lions led the league and Thurman Thomas of the Buffalo Bills finished second. Sanders and Thomas played at Oklahoma State.

Henry finished the 2022 campaign with 1,538 yards and 13 touchdowns on 340 rushing attempts. Chubb rushed for 1,525 yards and 12 touchdowns on 302 carries.

Shaun Alexander became the first former Alabama player to lead the league in rushing with 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns on 370 carries for the Seattle Seahawks in 2005.

Henry has won rushing crowns with 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns on 303 carries in 2019 and 2,027 yards and 17 touchdowns on 378 carries in 2020.

Jacobs’ 2022 total ranks fourth in NFL single-season rushing yards by a former Alabama player. In 2004, Alexander rushed for 1,696 yards and 16 touchdowns on 353 carries, but he missed 1 yard from league leader Curtis Martin of the New York Jets rushing total that season.


Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.

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