INDIANAPOLIS — Frank Gore seems like he breaks another NFL record or reaches another personal milestone just by rolling out of bed each morning at this stage in his extremely durable 13-year playing career.
And while the Indianapolis Colts, at 3-9 heading into today's road game against the Buffalo Bills at a snowy New Era Field, aren't officially eliminated from playoff contention yet, pride remains on the line for the team over the final four games of the season, as the team's players continue to set goals to push one another.
Gore is no different — even if personal stats aren't typically his thing. But he hopes that attaining one of his primary targets will help the Colts finish with a few more wins to close out the season.
"I want to finish strong," the five-time Pro Bowl selection said. "I want to finish strong with my teammates, and I also want to go out there and try to get the opportunity to try my best to reach 1,000 (rushing) yards. I feel like I've got a chance."
The running back out of Miami sees the necessary 368 yards remaining as attainable, even if that means averaging 92 yards per week from now through the regular season finale against the Houston Texans at Lucas Oil Stadium on New Year's Eve.
The numbers and accolades are growing for Gore at this stage of his career, whether he is looking for them or not. Without realistic postseason dreams in sight, he is potentially using the 1,000-yard plateau as the proverbial carrot dangling in front of his offensive teammates; a chance to become part of history, yet again.
Already this season Gore has passed Eric Dickerson, Jerome Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson to move into fifth place on the NFL's all-time rushing list, while his hard-nosed playing style continues to amaze those around the league, including those on the opposing sideline on Sunday.
"It's an incredible accomplishment with the names that are up there," Bills head coach Sean McDermott said on Wednesday. "Of course I already, in my mind, put him up there, so I was almost surprised that he hadn't been up there where he just got to of late."
The first-year Bills head coach has game-planned against Gore previously, and has the utmost respect for the player's longevity.
"Had a chance to go up against him when he was in San Francisco. I think the world of him," McDermott said. "[He's a] very, very good running back. It's incredible in and of itself that he's been able to do it for so long at a position like running back."
Gore will face McDermott's 25th-ranked rush defense this week, which is allowing just more than 120 yards per game on the ground.
A big day in Orchard Park would put the veteran closer to the remaining rushing yards he needs to hit the century mark during the 2017 season, and if Gore hits that mark he would not only join Pro Football Hall of Famer John Riggins and John Henry Johnson as the only players to rush for 1,000 yards at the age of 34 or older, but will also join an elite club to reach 1,000 yards in at least 10 different seasons.
The other players on that list? All Hall of Famers: Emmitt Smith, Curtis Martin, Walter Payton and Barry Sanders. Three hundred and sixty-eight yards in these final four weeks would push Gore into that exclusive club, as well.
Additionally on Gore's radar, whether it's this year or next, is the fact he needs only 405 rushing yards to pass Martin for fourth place on NFL's all-time rushing yards list.
"Yeah, this team would love to see – get him 1,000 (rushing) yards, if we can get him to No. 4 (all-time), whatever," Pagano said Monday when asked about Gore. "But he'd tell you and all those guys would tell you, the most important thing is the win. When you win, good things happen for everybody."
"The guy is amazing, and as we're talking about (Gore's place on the all-time list), I'm talking to him about those things and all he's saying is, 'Man, I want to finish this thing out right,'' Colts offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski said on Thursday. "'We've got to win some games.' That's what his mind is on, and that's why he's great. That's why he's sitting where he is. So, it's fun to be around. It's an honor to be around him and spend time with him."
Gore still sets the tone in the Colts' training facility and on the field, but said he will also use the final four weeks of this year to gauge how his body is feeling as he approaches 200 career games played.
"I'll evaluate myself after the season and see how my body is feeling," said Gore, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent heading into the offseason. "If I still love it, then I'll come back.