Frank Gore bulled his way past another all-time great.
The Buffalo Bills’ running back rushed for 65 yards on 15 carries to surpass Hall of Famer Barry Sanders for third place on the NFL’s all-time rushing list in a 20-3 victory against the Denver Broncos on Sunday at New Era Field.
“I really didn’t think about it,” Gore said, explaining his mindset entering the game. “After the game when I saw all the cameras, I was like, ‘Man, I passed Barry. … And I’m a guy who they said wouldn’t be in the league more than two or three years, and I got a chance to pass him today. I’m blessed.”
Gore has 15,289 career rushing yards in 15 NFL seasons with the San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins and Bills.
Only Hall of Famers Emmitt Smith (18,355 yards) and Walter Payton (16,726) have more.
“That’s major,” said rookie running back Devin Singletary, who had his first career 100-yard rushing game. “He’s up there with some greats. He’s a great himself. We know he’s going to get that jacket. It’s an honor for me just to be around him every day. That was a major moment. It don’t get no bigger.”
Gore entered the game needing just 45 rushing yards to match Sanders, who had 15,269 career rushing yards while playing for the Detroit Lions from 1989 to '98.
Gore had a 27-yard run in the third quarter, the Bills’ longest of the day, then tied Sanders with a 2-yard run later in the third. He then lost three yards on his next carry in the fourth.
But on the Bills’ next possession, after a rush for no gain, Gore set the milestone with a 7-yard carry on second-and-10 at the Denver 48 with 9:29 to play.
After another carry for no gain, the Bills called a timeout before punting, allowing Gore’s teammates to mob him in celebration.
“I told him it was an honor to be in the backfield with him,” quarterback Josh Allen said. “The guy just comes in and works and doesn’t say anything, puts his head down and doesn’t care about stats and numbers or this and that. He wants to help his team win football games and at 36 years old, how well he’s playing, how hard his is, how physical he is, it’s unbelievable.”
“I grew up watching Frank,” offensive lineman Jon Feliciano said. “He was one of the players that made me want to go to the University of Miami. And as a ’Cane, I’m just so proud of him. Coming into this game, we knew it was most likely going to happen today, and I’m just proud and honored to play with Frank and call him my teammate.”
“I used to play a video game with Frank when I was a little kid,” left tackle Dion Dawkins said, “so playing with him, blocking for him, it’s a heck of an honor and I’m just truly blessed to be in the position that I am, which I’m pretty sure every lineman that’s played and tight end and receiver that’s blocked for him is thinking the same way.”
Gore also has 19,155 career yards from scrimmage, which is fourth in league history. He passed Marshall Faulk on Sunday. Faulk had 19,154 yards. Jerry Rice is first with 23,540 yards, followed by Smith (21,579) and Payton (21,264).
The Bills compiled congratulatory messages from former teammates and other greats, including Sanders, Smith, Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, college teammates Clinton Portis, Willis McGahee, Ken Dorsey and Gore’s son, Frank Gore Jr.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) November 24, 2019
Buffalo finished with 244 rushing yards on 47 carries against the Broncos, the franchise’s most rushing yards in a game since 2016.
“It’s an honor to watch Frank every day,” coach Sean McDermott said. “It’s an honor just to have witnessed what I – what we’ve all witnessed out here, and we should all be grateful for being able to witness that. He went to third all-time and those names that are up there, those are legendary names, and Frank is now right with those guys. And no that he wasn’t before, but to be No. 3 is an incredible testament to his character, to his work ethic, to his just mental toughness and proving people wrong.”
Gore, a third-round draft pick out of Miami by the 49ers in 2005, played 10 seasons in San Francisco, three in Indianapolis and one in Miami before signing a one-year contract with the Bills in March.
He said it was special hitting the milestone in a home game.
“That’s big, especially for the fans here,” Gore said. “The fans are great. You see that Buffalo cheer, man, I love it. Let’s go, Buffalo! I’m happy I got a chance to do it at home, in front of the fans, and that was big today.”