Marlon Mack Earns First-Career 1,000-Yard Rushing Season With Standout Performance Against Panthers

With 16 rushing attempts for 95 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's Week 16 victory over the Carolina Panthers, third-year Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards on the year for the first time in his career.

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INDIANAPOLIS — Individual accolades in football are rarely actually credited to a single player.

Case in point: with 16 rushing attempts for 95 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's Week 16 lopsided victory over the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts running back Marlon Mack eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark on the year for the first time in his three-year career.

Mack is proud of the accomplishment, for sure — and said as much after the game. But he's just as happy for the offensive linemen, tight ends and wide receivers who have opened up the holes and worked to make blocks down the field play after play to help make it all possible.

"It's great. Happy for myself, happy for the team. I just appreciate the O-linemen, man," Mack said. "It's a crazy experience. I'm truly grateful for it, thankful for it. O-linemen pretty much got me there. The holes were amazing today — wide open. So truly grateful for it, and thankful for them."

Playing on the Lucas Oil Stadium turf for the final time in the 2019 season on Sunday, Mack reached the milestone on a 30-yard run in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game with the Carolina Panthers.

Mack entered the game with 919 rushing yards, needing 81 more to reach break the 1,000-yard barrier for the first time in his three-year career; in doing so, he becomes the first Colts player to reach 1,000 rushing yards in a single season since Frank Gore in 2016.

"We're on the sideline counting up and after a while we were like, 'How much does Marlon (Mack) need?" Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett said after Sunday's game. "It's special. No one deserves it more than him – not just him, those guys upfront. They've battled all year. That's one of the goals we set out this year was to have a 1,000-yard bag. They did that. They put us on their shoulders and carried the load. I tip my hat off to those guys."

After three consecutive games in which the Colts were unable to establish the run, there was no chance they were letting this opportunity get away from them with Mack in such close reach of his milestone heading into Week 16.

Utilizing Mack and the run game heavily was an obvious strategy for the Colts as the Panthers came into Sunday's game with the league's third-worst run defense, allowing an average of 140.2 yards per game on the ground.

By game's end, with Mack leading the way, the Colts racked up 218 rushing yards on 32 carries (6.8 avg.), their third 200-yard rushing performance as a team this season.

Head coach Frank Reich, who expressed his desire to feature a top-five rushing unit in the NFL coming into the season, said Mack getting to 1,000 rushing yards on the season "means a lot" as an offense.

"Obviously, it means a lot to Marlon, but it means a lot to the offensive line any time you get a guy going over 1,000," Reich said. "It's a real credit to all of those guys, our receivers and tight ends. It's a total offensive-unit effort there and the defense getting us the ball back and getting us some carries.

"I'm just happy for Marlon. He's kind of had to overcome some stuff the past couple of years with injuries so I was just happy he was able to get that today."

Despite missing two games with a fractured hand, Mack entered Sunday's game ranked 13th in the NFL rushing yards and 10th in rushing yards per game (76.6) as he keeps checking more and more career-bests off his list.

In the second quarter, Mack reached a new single-season career high in yards from scrimmage, eclipsing the 1,011 he had in 2018. Mack already reached a new single-season career highs in carries during Week 14's contest against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, surpassing the 195 carries that he had last season despite playing in the same amount of games.

But the fact Mack was able to cross 1,000 rushing yards on Sunday against the Panthers — in a lopsided victory, no less — is the icing on the cake.

"It was a definitely goal that now I can check off my sheet," he said. "And I'm truly proud of it and thankful for it. I'm just glad we got the W with it, so that's a good thing."

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