Giants on verge of two 1,000-yard running backs in same season

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In the history of the NFL, three teams have had two running backs rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.

Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris did it for the undefeated Miami Dolphins in 1972. Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier each hit the K-mark for the Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers in 1976, and Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack each ran for 1,000 yards for Cleveland in 1985.

George on Giants

Derrick Ward busted things wide open against the Panthers, paving what should be an easier road back to the Super Bowl for the Giants, writes Thomas George. More ...

The New York Giants are on the verge of joining the club heading into the regular-season finale against the Minnesota Vikings with Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward -- two players who will be free agents at the end of the season.

Jacobs, who has battled a sore left knee most of the season, already has 1,089 yards. Ward is 52 from reaching 1,000 yards after gaining a career-best 215 yards in Sunday night's 34-28 overtime victory over the Carolina Panthers.

"It would mean a lot to us," Jacobs said Tuesday before the Giants held a jog-through workout. "Derrick works hard and he deserves it. He has been under the radar a lot, so if he can get this done and get these 52 yards and make that happen I'd be very, very, very happy. To be honest with you, that is a very special thing to share with someone like him and as close as we are."

The Atlanta Falcons also had a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in 2006 with halfback Warrick Dunn and quarterback Michael Vick.

Jacobs went over the 1,000-yard mark on Dec. 7 against the Eagles, a game in which he aggravated his knee injury and had to leave. He missed the following week against Dallas and returned this past weekend, rushing for 87 yards and three touchdowns to help the Giants wrap up the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

Jacobs, who also rushed for 1,000 yards last season, said he didn't think Ward had a chance for 1,000 after Dallas limited him to 64 yards on Dec. 14. Ward then had that career day against Carolina, averaging 14.3 yards on his 15 carries.

"I want him to get it. I really do," Jacobs said. "I want him to get out there and run as hard as he can to get those 52 yards. Do whatever it takes to get it. He has a tough defense ahead of him, ahead of us, this weekend in Minnesota, so it's going to be great challenge for us both."

The Giants can make it easy for Ward. They could decide to give Jacobs an extra week off to rest his knee and give Ward the majority of carries.

Don't expect that.

Coach Tom Coughlin plans on playing to win. So if Jacobs is given the OK by the doctors, he'll be in the lineup.

"Whatever they decide to do is up to them," said Jacobs, whose pounding style usually sets up things for the quicker Ward later in the game. "I'm here, I feel good and whatever coach goes with, I'll be ready for."

Giant backs

Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs powered the final drive against the Panthers, securing home-field advantage for the Giants in the NFC Playoffs. Watch now ...

» Video: Ward highlights
» Video: Jacobs highlights

Jacobs and Ward had a long talk about the subject Monday night, spending 25 minutes on the telephone.

"And we are not phone guys at all, so I just talked to him and told him to work hard and continue to do whatever it is he is doing," Jacobs said. "It's going to be hard, but it's not something that he can't get done. It's very, very, very possible for him to get it done, so like I said, I'll be there the whole way with him standing behind him."

Ward was at the dentist Tuesday and was not immediately available for comment.

Whether both will be in the same locker room next season remains to be seen. It will be hard for the Giants to keep two 1,000 yard rushers under contract.

"That's definitely going to hurt," Jacobs said. "I talked to him about that as well, and every time over the past two years I've been asking him what kind of money he is looking for, and it's going up every day. So, it's funny and I laugh at him every time he tells me.

"He deserves it. He works hard and he does just as much as I do. ... It's going to be tough as an organization having to make a decision on us, but it's going to be tough to part if that's what we have to do."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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