INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The list has been reduced to four: Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, Barry Sanders and Curtis Martin.
Those are the only players in NFL history who have rushed for more yardage than Frank Gore. In NFL history.
“My name is getting mentioned with a lot of great guys,’’ he said after the Indianapolis Colts’ 30-10 loss to Jacksonville Sunday. “That’s a blessing.’’
Gore, 34 and relentless as ever, grinded past two other notable running backs while serving as one of the few bright spots on an otherwise dismal afternoon. He finished with 61 yards on 13 carries to push his career total 13,697 yards. He moved into 5th place all-time, sliding around Jerome Bettis (13,662) and LaDainian Tomlinson (13,684).
Leap-frogging Tomlinson seemed to have special meaning. Gore recalled being a rookie with San Francisco in 2005 and meeting Tomlinson when the 49ers and San Diego Chargers squared off during the preseason.
“I was like a little kid when I met him,’’ he said. “I respected the way he plays the game. Watching LT coming out of TCU and going to San Diego when it was just him and he’s still picking up numbers in the running game, the passing game.
“That’s special. As a player I’m just going to keep working and keep grinding and see what happens.’’
Martin (14,101) sits on the No. 4 perch, and Gore needs 405 yards to catch him. That undoubtedly comes next season, if he decides to extend what has been a decorated 13-year career. Gore will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and it’s anyone’s guess whether general manager Chris Ballard envisions a running back who turns 35 next May a part of the Colts’ short-term future.
“Hopefully, if I come back, I’ll be a free agent and it’ll be a great situation, a team I feel has a great chance to (get to the Super Bowl),’’ Gore said. “If my body feels good, I’m definitely gonna come back.’’
Gore thought he was coming to a great situation in Indy when he signed a three-year, $12 million contract during the 2015 offseason. He saw a team that reached the 2014 AFC Championship game and was led by quarterback Andrew Luck.
However, he noted, “things just been going wrong, especially with our leader (Luck) not being here, being up and down, since I’ve been here,’’ Gore said. “It’s No. 12, probably one of my main reasons coming here (to) play with a great quarterback.
“And that’s hurt this team.’’
Luck will miss all of this year with his right shoulder issues and 26 of 48 games since Gore’s arrival.
“It’s tough, man,’’ Gore said. “When you’re playing this game, you want to win, especially when you get up in age and when you don’t know how much time you have left.’’
Chuck Pagano described Gore as “a warrior.’’
“They don’t come any tougher,’’ he said. “There’s not a better competitor around and he’s a Hall of Famer. He’s a future first-ballot Hall of Famer and he could give (a heck) about that. He just wants to win.’’
With Gore and rookie Marlon Mack (46 yards on six carries), the Colts outrushed the Jaguars 141-96.
Doyle moving up: Tight end Jack Doyle finished with 3 catches for 16 yards and pushed his season total to a career-best 62 catches. That’s the fourth-highest receptions total by a tight end in Colts’ history. The top three: Dallas Clark with 100 in 2009, Clark with 77 in ’08 and Jacob Tamme with 67 in ’10. Also, ESPN reported Doyle’s 60th catch of the season triggered a clause in his contract that boosted his 2018 base salary from $3.5 million to $3.9 million. Doyle’s 62 receptions lead the Colts; T.Y. Hilton is second with 41. The last tight end to lead the Colts outright in receptions: Pat Beach with 36 in 1985. Clark and Reggie Wayne had 100 each in ’09.
Medical matters: The Colts entered the game without, among others, cornerback Rashaan Melvin (right hand). They lost cornerback Pierre Desir in the second quarter with a shoulder injury. Rookie Quincy Wilson took over for Desir and saw his first action since week 2 against Arizona. Center Mike Person started for the first time since 2015 as Ryan Kelly missed the game with a concussion. He temporarily left the game in the fourth quarter and was replaced by recently-signed Anthony Fabiano, but returned.
This and that: Hilton had 3 receptions for 51 yards, including a 40-yard TD. The TD was the 34th of his career, and 15th that has covered at least 40 yards. . . . Adam Vinatieri converted 27-yard field goal in the first quarter and now has hit 22-of-23 on the year. . . . Safety Matthias Farley led the Colts with 7 tackles. . . . The Colts were 0-for-2 scoring touchdowns in the red zone and have scored TDs on just 4 of their last 20 trips inside the 20-yard line.