Editor’s Note: Jim Reineking is an editor for NFL.com. Here’s his top 5 list of legendary running back Barry Sanders’ greatest touchdown runs.
“Barry Sanders: A Football Life” debuts on NFL Network tonight at 8 p.m. ET.
“The hard thing about Barry (Sanders) is picking out what play jumps out in your mind, because his highlights, his average run, just jumps out, period.” — Curtis Martin in “Barry Sanders: A Football Life.”
That made selecting the top five greatest touchdown runs from the thrilling career of Sanders — the subject of the latest installment of “A Football Life” — equally enjoyable and challenging.
5. 1991 vs. Buffalo Bills
In order for the Lions to collect just their second division title since winning the 1957 NFL Championship, they would need to defeat the Bills, who were en route to their second of four consecutive Super Bowl appearances, in Orchard Park, N.Y. As he is wont to do, Sanders provided a key moment in a pivotal Lions victory with a 1-yard touchdown run featuring a rapid improvisation to dodge Bills defensive back Nate Odomes. Another angle of the play (check it out at the 3:28 mark of this video) reveals just how lightning quick Sanders’ spin move was to eliminate Odomes from the play. The Lions won the game, and claimed their first NFC Central Division crown since 1983.
4. 1997 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The pewter powerhouse was just starting its rise to prominence when Sanders tore through the new-look Buccaneers for an 80-yard touchdown scamper. Before hitting the open field, Sanders put a juke move on John Lynch that made the nine-time Pro Bowl safety look really quite silly.
3. 1992 vs. Chicago Bears
Sanders provided the highlight of the opening Sunday of the 1992 season — or any opener for any season, for that matter — with an amazing escape act against the Bears. Sanders fought through the tackle attempts by a number of Bears, including Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Singletary, to complete one of the most remarkable runs of his career.
2. 1991 NFC Divisional Playoffs vs. Dallas Cowboys
The Lions dumptrucked the Cowboys, 38-6, for their first playoff victory since winning the 1957 NFL Championship and their only postseason win since. The punctuation mark on the historic triumph was a 47-yard touchdown run by Sanders, who evaded a host of Cowboys defenders and then simulaneously eluded Ken Norton, Jr. and caught Tony Casillas standing watching the mayhem.
1. 1994 vs. New England Patriots
Harlon Barnett had a seven-year NFL career with three teams (Cleveland Browns, New England Patriots, Minnesota Vikings), but the safety will forever be a part of NFL lore for what happened on Sept. 25, 1994 inside the Pontiac Silverdome. On a 39-yard touchdown run by Sanders, Barnett got twisted, corkscrewed and completely turned around in an amazing piece of football footage that is a requisite for any Sanders sizzle reel.
This is just one humble man’s list. What’s yours?