Thurman Thomas produced 18,393 yards and 109 touchdowns in 12 seasons with the Buffalo Bills. That's a lot of great moments in a career that will be honored with the retirement of his No. 34 jersey in October.
Thomas' greatest career achievement, besides helping the Bills to four straight Super Bowls, was leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage a record four straight years. No other player ever has led the league in yards from scrimmage three straight years. Only two other players have led the league at least four times, Hall of Famers Jim Brown (six times) and Eric Dickerson (four times).
Here is a subjective list of Thomas' five greatest moments with the Bills:
1. Four for four. The Bills hopped on Thomas' back for their fourth straight AFC Championship Game victory in January 1994. He carried an AFC title-game record 33 times for 186 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-13 rout of Kansas City. The first TD, a 12-yard run up the middle, burned a Chiefs blitz and set the tone. With the Chiefs worried about the Bills' pass attack Jim Kelly kept calling Thomas' number on audibles.
2. Jets killer. Thomas' career rushing performance was a 214-yard game on Monday night against the New York Jets in 1990. The Bills were coming off a Week Two blowout loss in Miami. Thomas got the team back on track in a 30-7 win. His long run was a 60-yard, weaving burst up the middle behind a pancake block from center Kent Hull. Jets Joe Kelly, James Hasty and Erik McMillan were left in the dust.
"When we watched the film it turned out we left one guy on their defense totally unblocked the whole night," Hull later told The News. "He was never accounted for, but it didn’t matter because Thurman kept making one guy miss on every play. Thurman made us all look great.”
3. Super Bowl XXV TD run. Maybe the most replayed highlight of Thomas' career is his 31-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Bills a 19-17 lead over the New York Giants. What a run. First, he slipped a tackle attempt by Gary Reasons, then he lowered his shoulder and bounced off safety Myron Guyton in the middle of the field. Showing Hall of Fame balance, Thomas hop-stepped and raced down the right sideline to the end zone. It was the only time the Bills ever held the lead in the fourth quarter of a Super Bowl.
4. Shootout in the sun. The 1991 season-opener was a Holy War game for Miami, which had been knocked out of the playoffs the January before in the snow in Buffalo, 44-34. Miami jumped out to a 14-0 lead. But a 50-yard TD pass from Kelly to Thomas highlighted the rally to a 35-31 Bills victory. Thomas rolled up a career-high 268 yards from scrimmage – 165 rushing and 103 receiving.
5. Take that, Dolphins. It wasn't the most important TD of Thomas' career but it symbolized his passion, leadership and loathing of the Dolphins. In a 1991 Monday night victory at Miami, Thomas followed the blocks of John Davis and Carwell Gardner and scored on a 1-yard run to put the Bills ahead, 34-13. Thomas then whipped the ball into the padding on the wall in the corner of the end zone. It was the exclamation point on the Bills' superiority over their archrival.
"I hate Miami but it wasn't for them, it was for their fans," Thomas said after the game. "They were taunting me to do something, so I did a couple things. That's really not my style, but it was an important game."
Story topics: Thurman Thomas