FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots acquired three-time Pro Bowl running back Corey Dillon, the Cincinnati Bengals' all-time leading rusher, in exchange for a second-round draft choice in the 2004 NFL draft, the 56th selection overall (obtained from Miami in exchange for a 2003 third-round selection).
Dillon, who broke Walter Payton's single-game rushing record in 2000 with a 278-yard performance (since eclipsed by Jamal Lewis in 2003), now owns two of the top nine single-game rushing performances in NFL history. O.J. Simpson is the only other player to have rushed for more than 245 yards in a game twice in his career.
"We are very excited about Corey Dillon becoming a Patriot," said Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. "Corey joins Kevin Faulk and our other very good backs to deepen an already competitive running back position. We acquired multiple draft choices with the intention of strengthening the team and Corey Dillon and Rodney Bailey should help achieve that goal."
Dillon, 29, has rushed for 8,061 yards and 45 touchdowns in seven NFL seasons, an average of 1,151 yards and 6.4 touchdowns per season. He owns or shares 18 Bengals records, including career rushing yards (8,061), rushing yards in a season (1,435), rushing yards in a game (278, second in NFL history), career yards from scrimmage (9,543), longest play from scrimmage (96-yard run), most rushing touchdowns in a game (4) and most 1,000-yard seasons (6). In 2003, he became just the 28th player in NFL history to rush for 8,000 yards in his career and will enter the 2004 season just 13 yards behind Freeman McNeil (8,074) and 20 yards behind Larry Csonka (8,081) among the all-time leaders. Sam Cunningham (1973-82) owns the Patriots career rushing record with 5,453 yards.
The 6-foot-1-inch, 225-pound running back was originally drafted by the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of the 1997 NFL draft, 43rd overall, out of Washington. He rushed for 933 yards and eight touchdowns in the final eight games of his rookie campaign to finish with 1,129 yards and 10 touchdowns, respectively, to earn NFL Rookie of the Year honors. He set a Bengals single-game rushing record in his fifth game as a starter when he exploded for 246 yards and four touchdowns on 39 carries (6.3-yard average) against Tennessee on Dec. 4, 1997.
In 1998, he started 15 games for the Bengals and rushed for 1,130 yards, eclipsing his rookie total by one yard. For the second consecutive season, he rushed for more than 100 yards in four games, including a 124-yard effort on just 14 carries (8.9 avg.) at Tennessee (10/18/98). In 1999, he started 15 games and rushed for 1,200 yards and five touchdowns on 263 carries for a 4.6-yard average per carry. He eclipsed the 100-yard plateau five times, including a season-high 192 yards on 28 carries against the Cleveland Browns. He finished the season with 1,490 yards from scrimmage, the most by a Bengal in 10 years. His performance earned him a trip to the first of three consecutive Pro Bowls (following the 1999, 2000 and 2001 seasons).
In 2000, he started every game for the Bengals and rushed for a career-high 1,435 yards and seven touchdowns on 315 attempts (4.6 avg.). He rushed for over 100 yards five times, including two 200-yard efforts. After rushing for just 82 yards in his first three games that year, he averaged 104.1 yards per game over the final 13 games of the season. He broke Walter Payton's single-game rushing record with 278 yards against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 22, 2000 on just 22 carries (12.6 avg.). In that game, Dillon exploded for 201 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries in the second half of the game (15.5 avg.). In December, he rushed for 216 yards on 35 carries (6.2 avg.) vs. Arizona (12/3/00). It was the most rushing yards ever allowed by the Cardinals in their 83-year franchise history.
In 2001, he started every game and set a franchise record with 340 rushing attempts. He finished the season rushing for 1,315 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also led the team with three touchdown receptions and finished third on the team with 34 catches. With 78 points scored, he not only recorded a career high, but also became the first non-kicker to lead the Bengals in scoring since Ickey Woods accomplished the feat in 1988. He added four more 100-yard rushing performances to his career total, including a season-high 184-yard outing at Detroit on Oct. 28, 2001. In that game, he set a franchise record with a 96-yard touchdown run. It remains the fifth longest run in NFL history.
In 2002, he became just the fourth player in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in his first six seasons, joining the elite class with Eric Dickerson, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin. In the Patriots' 44-year history, the team has produced 12 1,000-yard rushers. In seven seasons, Dillon has accomplished the feat six times. He finished the year with 1,311 yards, his third consecutive season with over 1,300 yards rushing, and scored seven rushing touchdowns. He started every game for the third consecutive season and established a career high with 43 receptions for 298 additional yards. His 1,609 combined yards from scrimmage set another single-season career high and ranks second in franchise history. He rushed for over 100 yards in five more games during the season, including a season-high 164 yards at Indianapolis (10/6/02).
Last season, he started 11 of 13 games for the Bengals while sharing the rushing responsibilities with running back Rudi Johnson. He finished the year with 541 yards rushing on 138 carries and scored two touchdowns and moved ahead of James Brooks as the franchise's all-time leader with 9,543 career yards from scrimmage.
In seven seasons with the Bengals, Dillon appeared in 107 of 112 possible games, including 96 as a starter and has rushed for over 100 yards 28 times, including three 200-yard performances