A Look Back at the Corey Dillon Era
The 90s and early 2000s were rough years for the Bengals franchise, but Corey Dillon was a bright spot.
It would appear that this year’s Bengals are going to have an offense built around Joe Mixon. The former Oklahoma Sooner led the AFC in rushing last year. Mixon has the talent and will have the opportunity to eventually challenge the numbers of the Bengals all-time franchise rushing leader, Corey Dillon.
Dillon was the featured back in Cincinnati from 1997-2002. When you consider that Cincinnati posted double digit losses in all but one of those seasons, what Dillon did in Cincinnati is jaw dropping.
The former Washington Huskie never posted less than 1100 rushing yards in a season during those years. He also had over 300 carries for three straight years from 2000-2002.
Much like Barry Sanders in Detroit, Dillon was the only offensive threat opponents had to worry about and the reason fans went to games in Cincinnati. His finest hour as a Bengal was October 22nd, 2000.
This was one of the first games I remember attending. The Bengals were winless and the visiting Broncos had the second ranked run defense and would eventually be a playoff team that year.
Cincinnati’s quarterbacks completed two passes during the entire game. Even seven year old me knew the Bengals were coming at Denver with number 28 and not much else.
It didn’t matter that everyone knew what was coming. Dillon rushed for a then NFL single game record 278 yards and two touchdowns to spearhead one of the biggest upsets in franchise history. You can watch how the Bengals racked up all 407 team rushing yards below thanks to The Primary Read YouTube channel.
Dillon had two more outstanding years in Cincinnati. Injuries and the emergence of Rudi Johnson made Dillon an afterthought in 2003. A messy divorce between the Bengals and their former workhorse brought Dillon to New England where he won a Super Bowl after the 2004 season with the Patriots.
When the best Bengal players ever get talked about, Dillon’s name does not come up as fast as it should. Maybe it is because his glory years took place in an era that so many Cincinnati fans try to forget. The way things ended for Dillon in Cincinnati certainly did not help matters either. However, Dillon was brought back for the team’s 50th anniversary festivities in 2017.
No matter what, if Mixon’s numbers in Cincinnati come anywhere near Dillon’s when it is all said and done, Mixon will have had a heck of a career in tiger stripes.