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News » Carolina backs gaining acclaim

Carolina backs gaining acclaim

Carolina backs gaining acclaim
Since midseason, Carolina Panthers running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have evolved from a nice combination with potential into a dynamic duo chasing history and drawing praise from all around the NFL.

"The tandem they have right now is probably the best in the league," New Orleans linebacker Scott Fujita said Sunday after Carolina's 33-31 win over the Saints at the Superdome. "Numbers-wise, they're kind of shaping up to be one of the best [duos] ever in terms of two running backs."

Sound extreme?

Well, Fujita is correct.

Williams and Stewart combined for 2,351 yards rushing in the regular season, the best by any backfield duo since 1984, according to research done Monday by the NFL and Elias Sports Bureau.

Only seven running-back combinations ever have gained more yards in a season than Williams and Stewart this year, and all of them included one of these four Hall of Fame greats -- O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson, Jim Brown and Walter Payton.

And four of those top seven efforts happened in two years, when Simpson (1975) and Dickerson ('84) made the list with two of their teammates in the same season.

"Wow," Williams said when informed that he and Stewart were eighth on the all-time list. "It's very, very special in the fact that the relationship me and Jonathan Stewart have will go on for a long time. For us to be part of history while doing that is unbelievable."

Williams and Stewart fell 289 yards short of the record of 2,640 yards compiled in 1975 by Simpson (1,817) and Buffalo teammate Jim Braxton (823).

However, Williams and Stewart had the fourth-best total for a 16-game season and third-best among teammates who both rushed for at least 800 yards.

Williams and Stewart raced into the record books thanks to a blistering pace in the second half of the season.

After the first eight games, Carolina ranked 16th in the league in rushing and their backs had just two 100-yard rushing performances, both by Williams. It was clear back then that there was another level for them to attain in the second half of the season if they continued to develop -- and they exceeded virtually everyone's expectations down the stretch.

Williams and Stewart combined for eight 100-yard performances in the final eight games, including two by Williams. The Panthers finished the regular season ranked third in the league in rushing, best in team history.

Williams set a team single- season record with 1,515 yards and Stewart established a team season record for rookies with 823.

Williams has become more electrifying by the week. His recent ability to cutback and turn no-gainers into long-gainers has caused some, including former teammate Vinny Testaverde, to compare Williams to former Detroit great Barry Sanders.

The "Double Trouble" nickname Williams unveiled after Sunday's game fits him and Stewart well considering their close friendship and the mutual support they provide one another. It suits them better than "Smash & Dash," which they previously shared with Tennessee's Chris Johnson and LenDale White.

With the playoffs about to begin, Williams and Stewart truly are "Double Trouble" for upcoming opponents.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 30, 2008

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LaBrandon Toefield Name: LaBrandon Toefield
Position: RB
Age: 27
Experience: 6 years
College: LSU
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