Kareem Hunt entered the last day of the season needed an unusual series of events to win the NFL rushing title, but the right scenario fell into place for the Kansas City Chiefs running back becoming the sixth rookie since the NFL merger to lead the league in rushing.
The third-round draft pick from Toledo took just a single rush in Kansas City 27-24 win over the Denver Broncos, ripping off a 35-yard touchdown run on the team’s first drive of the game to give him 1,327 yards on the season.
Hunt trailed Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley by 13 yards starting the day. He also led Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell by a single yard. But with both teams resting their starters for the playoffs, Gurley and Bell remained on the sidelines in their season finales.
Gurley finishes second in the rushing race with 1,305 yards, followed by Bell with 1,291.
The Chiefs rested their starters as well, but circumstances forced Hunt into the lineup. Backup running back Charcandrick West sat out the game with flu, and Akeem Hunt entered the game with a shoulder injury. That pressed the Chiefs to give Hunt a shot at the title. Hunt played one drive, giving the Chiefs a 7-0 lead before joining other starters on the sideline.
Hunt follows Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott in making it back-to-back rushing titles by rookie running backs. They join Earl Campbell, George Rogers, Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James as rookies winning the rushing title since 1960.
Hunt becomes the third Chiefs running back to win an NFL rushing title. He joins Christian Okoye in 1989 and Priest Holmes in 2001. Abner Haynes won the AFL rushing title in 1960 when the Chiefs franchise played in Dallas.