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Recapping 2013: The Running Backs

Posted Jan 29, 2014

A complete breakdown of the running backs from the 2013 season.

The Chargers boasted one of the strongest running back stables in the NFL in 2013, led by the one-two punch of Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead.  When needed, Ronnie Brown proved to be a vital third option for the Bolts while Le’Ron McClain provided a lift at fullback as well.

Photo Gallery: The Best of the Running Backs | More Photos

The lead dog for San Diego was Mathews, who recorded the best season of his four-year career.  Number 24 posted career-highs in carries (285) and yards (1,255), while tying his career-high with seven touchdowns (six rushing, one receiving).  Mathews’ 1,255 yards marked the eighth best total in franchise history and was the seventh most in the league this year.  It was also the most by a Chargers running back since 2007, and was the second 1,000 yard season of his career.  He topped 100 yards in a game six times, which ranked second only to LeSean McCoy.  Mathews was at his best over the final month of the season when he carried the ball 107 times for 473 yards and three touchdowns.  He also chipped in with 26 receptions for 189 yards. Fighting through an ankle injury in the postseason, Mathews had 18 carries for 78 yards with two catches for 12.

Another dangerous weapon out of the backfield was Woodhead, who proved to be one of the best free agent pickups in the NFL.  He set a career high with 106 carries for 429 yards and two scores on the ground.  Woodhead was perhaps most effective in the passing game, where he set career highs across the board with 76 catches for 605 yards and six touchdowns.  He finished the season just one catch shy of Antonio Gates for the team lead, and he notched the most touchdown catches among all NFL running backs with the second most receptions and receiving yards.  Woodhead scored his first career postseason rushing touchdown to open the scoring in Cincinnati in the Wild Card win over the Bengals.  He finished the playoffs with a team-high 24 carries for 83 yards and a TD in addition to five catches for 24 yards.

The third member of the potent rushing attack was the well-respected veteran Brown.  With the success of both Mathews and Woodhead his touches were limited, but he made the most out of them.  He toted the rock 45 times for 157 yards and one touchdown while catching eight balls for 60 yards. Brown’s highlight play though came in the postseason, when he ran 58-yards to pay dirt to ice the game against the Bengals.  It was the nine-year veteran’s first career playoff touchdown, and he finished the postseason with nine carries for 77 yards to go along with five catches for 27 yards.

Finally, at fullback McClain continued to be a force in his seventh season.  He paved the way for many key rushes, particularly in short yardage situations where the Bolts often succeeded.  McClain was deft rushing the ball too, carrying it 11 times for 32 yards.  He also had two receptions on the season as well.

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