Nicknamed the Tyler Rose, Earl Campbell punished his opponents on his way to a Hall of Fame career. The 5’11” 230 lb. tank was a hard man to tackle. The 1977 Heisman Trophy winner out of Texas brought his bruising running style to the NFL as the top pick in the 1978 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers. Campbell didn’t disappoint in his first season, earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. What would he do for an encore in 1979? Show that his rookie season wasn’t a fluke.
Campbell Runs Over Competition, Earns 1979 NFL MVP
One thing was certain in 1979: Earl Campbell was going to get his rushing attempts. It didn’t matter how many defenders were in the box, Campbell found a way to make them pay. In week 1 against the Washington Redskins, the Oilers gave them a steady dose of Campbell. He carried the ball 32 times for 166 yards and 2 TDs in a 29-27 win on the road. When Campbell carried the ball 30 or more times that season, the Oilers won every game (7-0).
Heading in Week 10, the Oilers were 6-3 and needed to keep winning to make the playoffs. Campbell understood the assignment and went off. He closed out the season with a then NFL record seven consecutive 100 yard games:
- Week 10 @ MIA – 32 carries, 120 yards
- Week 11 vs OAK – 32 carries, 107 yards, 1 TD
- Week 12 vs CIN – 19 carries, 112 yards, 2 TDs
- Week 13 @ DAL – 33 carries, 195 yards, 2 TDs
- Week 14 @ CLE – 22 carries, 108 yards, 1 TD
- Week 15 vs PIT – 33 carries, 109 yards
- Week 16 vs PHI – 16 carries, 134 yards, 1 TD
Campbell had 11 games that season of 100 yards or more, tying a then NFL record set by O.J. Simpson in 1973. With his success, the Oilers were a playoff team with a 11-5 record. They defeated the Denver Broncos 13-7 but fell in the AFC Championship game to eventual Super Bowl winner Pittsburgh Steelers 27-13.
Although his sensational season didn’t end with the ultimate prize, Campbell established himself as one of the premier running backs in the league.
Earl Campbell 1979 Season Stats
Here are Earl Campbell’s stats and awards from his 1979 season: