Frank Gore did more than become the fourth man in NFL history to in Sunday's 16-10 loss to the New England Patriots. Gore, by virtue of his 109-yard rushing performance, became the first 36-year-old in nearly 41 years to rush for over 100 yards in an NFL game.
The last 36-year-old running back to accomplish that feat was MacArthur Lane, who rushed for 144 yards on 17 carries in Kansas City's Week 5 loss to the Buffalo Bills. It would be the final 100-yard rushing performance for Lane, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 77. Lane, the St. Louis Cardinals' first-round pick in the 1968 NFL draft, earned Pro Bowl honors in 1970 as he led the NFL with 11 rushing touchdowns that season. He retired with 7,442 all-purpose yards in 11 seasons while spending time with the Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and Chiefs.
Gore, who broke the 1,500-yard barrier on a 41-yard scamper during Sunday's game, is showing no signs of slowing down in his 15th NFL season. Through four games, he has rushed for 273 yards and two touchdowns while averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Over the last two games, he's rushed for 185 yards while averaging nearly six yards a carry for the Bills, who are 3-1 after nearly upsetting the undefeated Patriots on Sunday.
"Blessed you know, I'm blessed," Gore said of reaching the 15,000-yard mark, via the team's official website. "The hard work, loving the game and thanks to all the guys who helped me get it – my offensive linemen, my receivers, my coaches. Now I just want to keep playing ball."
Gore also spoke of joining Hall of Fame running backs Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders as the only running backs in NFL history to reach the 15,000-yard mark. While he was just 4-years-old when Payton called it a career, he was old enough to watch Smith and Sanders dominate the NFL rushing scene during the 1990s. Starting in 1990, either Smith or Sanders would win the next eight NFL rushing titles. Smith also won three Super Bowls during that span while also earning league MVP honors in 1993. Sanders earned league MVP honors in 1997 while becoming the third running back in league history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a single season.
"It's big, especially coming out of college with injuries to two ACL's and a lot of guys doubted me saying I wouldn't be in the league for three years and I'm still going, having fun, still having success," Gore said. "It's a blessing to be mentioned with those guys, when I was coming up they made me want to be a running back."
Gore, assuming he stays healthy, will pass Sanders for third place on the all-time rushing list later this season. He is currently 248 rushing yards behind Sanders, who was just 30-years-old when he played in his final NFL game.
While Sanders decided to end his career relatively early, Gore has no intention of hanging up his cleats anytime soon.