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Remembering Peyton Hillis and His Legendary 2010 Season


How did Peyton Hillis end up on the Madden cover?

Peyton Hillis is one of the shortest-lived stars of the NFL, with his NFL career only lasting 7 seasons and his prime only lasting 1 maybe 2 seasons.  However, his prime was absolutely astounding, and the statistics do not really show how amazing he was as a player.  With that, in this article we will be covering the career of Hillis, and what his legacy was in the NFL.  

Denver Broncos Stint

Peyton would start off a Denver Bronco in his career, being drafted in the 7th round of the 2008 draft by them at pick 227.  He was initially viewed as the starting fullback for the Broncos due to his large frame at 6’2” 250 pounds.  However, due to the most random circumstances ever with the first five running backs on the depth chart getting injured, he would become the starting running back for Denver.  In his first game, he put together a 10 rush performance for 44 yards and 2 touchdowns, solid, but nothing like his game against Atlanta 2 weeks out.  

Hillis in his third start (against the Atlanta Falcons) has 22 rushes for 129 yards which gave him Rookie of the Week and FedEx Ground Player of the week honors.  His season would then go on to be cut short however, as he made a spectacular catch against the Chiefs he would be hit from both sides and end up with a relatively large tear in his hamstring, ending his season (see 0:52 in the following video)

Hillis would then be traded after the next 2009 season to the Cleveland Browns, along with a 6th round pick and a conditional pick for Brady Quinn.  This would end a tumultuous 2009 season, where Peyton got very little playing time.

“The Season”  –  2010

Peyton Hillis would then go on in 2010 to prove the Broncos wrong and show them that he should have received every minute of playing time available.  A season that is notorious for creating the legend of Hillis, and essentially was the reason he got on the cover of Madden 12 as his fanbase absolutely loved him.  By the end of the 2010 season, Peyton accrued the following stats:

  • 270 rushing attempts
  • 1,177 rushing yards (4.4 per attempt), 11 rushing touchdowns, 73.6 yards per game
  • 61 receptions on 77 targets (79.2% catch rate) for 477 yards and 2 touchdowns

Does this sound amazing in the modern era statistically?  No.  However, for a team like the Browns, who were notoriously bad and had just rebuilt with a new head coach and quarterback, he was the spark of hope Cleveland needed in that season.  This season ultimately led to his legendary status in Cleveland, and in a vote for the Madden 12 cover, Browns fans came out of the rafters and voted him to win in the finals over Michael Vick.  Overall, Hillis had a short prime and was not the most dominant player ever, but his two seasons with Cleveland were the stuff of legend and will always be remembered by the Cleveland faithful.  

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