Allow me to put this in perspective for you. Dallas gained 182 yards rushing that day. Only 14 yards and 4 carries were not Emmitt Smith. Troy Aikman completed 24 passes; 10 of them were to his star RB. The next closest receiver was Daryl Johnston with 6. Michael Ivin only managed 3. Troy’s only TD pass was to Emmitt. Dallas had 339 total yards gained in the game, and 229 of those yards belonged to Emmitt Smith. In other words, Emmitt Smith put that team on his back and carried them not only into the playoffs, but to a second straight Super Bowl title. On the way he not only earned another rushing title, but was also named League MVP and Super Bowl MVP.
With all apologies to Barry Sanders, nothing he did ever impressed me as much as what Emmitt did that day. No jaw dropping run he ever made can compare to pure heart. Barry was no relation to fellow 1989 Draft alum Deion Sanders, but much like Deion he seemed to have a fear of being hit. Okay, in fairness Deion was afraid of hitting, and that is worse. It just isn’t what I want from a RB.
I want a guy carrying the ball who wants it to be 3rd and short. If you are a Defensive Coordinator would you rather see 3rd and 3, or 3rd and 12? It isn’t even close is it? You would much rather see the other team 3rd and long so you can send a blitz and raise your chances for a positive outcome. On 3rd and 3, a blitz is riskier because of not only the chance of a run, but also a dump off pass. Barry Sanders, caused the Lions too many 3rd and long situations for them to ever succeed in my opinion.
In the post season, where games matter the most, Emmitt Smith was not only the heart and soul of his team, he was productive. In his career he scored 21 post season Touchdowns, including at least one in each Super Bowl he played in. The Cowboys were 12-5 in Emmitt’s post season career, and he failed to score only twice in that span of games. Scoring, that is what sets Emmitt apart to me more than anything else over Barry Sanders. I will come back to that topic later.