Cincinnati Bengals: 30 greatest players in franchise history

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(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Corey Dillon, Cincinnati Bengals
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56. . RB. (1997-03). Corey Dillon. 12. player

  • 3x Pro Bowl w/Bengals (1999-01)
  • 6x 1,000-yard rusher w/Bengals (1997-02)
  • 2x 10+ rushing touchdowns in a season w/Bengals (1997, 2001)
  • Set NFL record for rushing yards in a game (278) vs. 2000 Denver Broncos
  • Team record for rushing touchdowns in a game (4) vs. 1997 Tennessee Oilers
  • Franchise rookie record for rushing yards in a season (1,129)
  • Franchise leader in career rushing yards (8,061)

Corey Dillon was an excellent two-sport athlete in his native Seattle in high school. While he was drafted by the San Diego Padres to be a catcher, Dillon saw himself as a football player. Though he had to play briefly in junior college in Kansas, Dillon would go on to star for his hometown Washington Huskies as a running back, earning First Team All-American honors in 1996.

This led to Dillon being a second-round pick by the Bengals in the 1997 NFL Draft. Though the Bengals were still far from a great team, Dillon certainly made the most of his rookie year. He rushed for a franchise record 1,129 yards as a rookie on 233 carries for 10 touchdowns. Four of those rushing touchdowns came against the Tennessee Oilers, a team record for most trips to pay dirt on the ground.

In his first six years with the Bengals, Dillon rushed for over 1,000 yards. He made the Pro Bowl in three of those years from 1999 to 2001. While the Bengals still weren’t sniffing the AFC playoffs, Dillon was surely on the fast track to being a Pro Football Hall of Famer. However, his career would go in a different direction in year seven in 2003.

An injury kept Dillon out of three games in what was his final year with the Bengals. He mustered just 541 yards and two touchdowns on 138 carries. However, the Bengals were able to get great production out of another solid tailback in the form of Rudi Johnson. It seemed like Dillon’s career was on the downward trajectory.

This led to a trade with the New England Patriots ahead of the 2004 season. Cincinnati felt it was good with Johnson going forward instead of Dillon. Turns out, that would be a mistake. Dillon would set career highs in carries (345) and rushing yards (1,635), rushing four 12 touchdowns. He made his fourth and final career trip to the Pro Bowl, as the Patriots would win Super Bowl XXXIX over the Philadelphia Eagles at the end of the season.

He would spend his final three NFL seasons with the Patriots, retiring after the 2006 campaign at the age of 32. While he won more meaningful games with New England, Dillon’s numbers as a Bengal may make him eventually a Pro Football Hall of Famer. The body of work is there for sure.

Dillon is the franchise leader in rushing yards with 8,061 for the Bengals. Overall, he had 11,241 rushing yards and 82 rushing touchdowns in his 10-year NFL career with two teams. Though he has been eligible since 2012, Dillon remains on the outside looking in at Canton.