Rare rookie running back showdown at Soldier Field

One of the best parts of Sunday’s Titans-Bears matchup is the battle of the NFL’s two best rookie running backs, Chicago’s Matt Forte and Tennessee’s Chris Johnson.

They are the only two rookie running backs among the Top 10 rushing leaders -– Forte with 641 rushing yards, Johnson with 715. Only twice in NFL history have rookie running backs that ranked in the Top 10 in rushing with 600 yards apiece actually squared off.

The first time it happened also involved another Chicago running back, Gale Sayers, going against San Francisco’s Ken Willard on Dec. 12, 1965. At the time Sayers had 672 yards, Willard 745.

The other time two rookie running backs in the league’s Top 10 rushers squared off was Dec. 21, 1969, when Washington’s Larry Brown battled Dallas’ Calvin Hill. At the time Brown had 827 rushing yards, Hill 869.

Now we get another of those rare rookie running back matchups.

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