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Kareem Hunt Polishes Offensive Rookie of the Year Resume With Rushing Title

Posted Jan 1, 2018

His case is strong, to quite strong

Even though he was close to achieving something that’s only ever happened two other times in the last 30 years of professional football, there was no guarantee that Kansas City Chiefs’ rookie running back Kareem Hunt was going to get a shot at winning the NFL’s rushing title Sunday afternoon against the Denver Broncos.

The Chiefs had already wrapped up the AFC’s No. 4 seed and many of the starters were given the day off, but because of a few different things, including an illness to backup running back Charcandrick West, there was a need for Hunt to at least be active for the game.

And considering he was just 14 yards shy of passing the Los Angeles Rams’ Todd Gurley, who was given the week off as the Rams also had their playoff position set in stone, as the league’s top rusher, Hunt pressed for an opportunity.

“He had one play, and he had a pretty nice run,” Chiefs’ coach Andy Reid said of Hunt after the game. “I think he needed 14 yards or whatever. He came to me and he wanted to play and he wanted to do this thing. I fought him a little bit on it, and he won that fight. He told me he’d get it taken care of quick and he did that. My hat goes off to him.”

On the Chiefs’ first offensive drive, Hunt entered the game after just four plays and took the handoff 35 yards up the middle—breaking two more tackles on the way to the end zone and the record books.

Hunt became the third Chiefs’ player to ever lead the league in rushing—joining Christian Okoye (1989) and Priest Holmes (2001). It’s another line on an impressive resume that could soon lead to him winning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

“I wasn’t supposed to dress today,” Hunt added. “I just had to be ready. We were low on numbers at the running back position. Akeem [Hunt] and [Anthony] Sherman were the only guys there, so I had to dress and have their backs.”

Hunt finished his rookie season with 272 carries for 1,327 yards with eight touchdowns, adding 53 receptions for 455 yards and three touchdowns in the passing game as well. Overall, Hunt finished third in the league in total yards from scrimmage (1,782), trailing only the Rams’ Todd Gurley (2,093) and the Steelers’ Le’Veon Bell (1,946).

Hunt believes the 27-24 win over the Broncos on Sunday, regardless of the fact that it did nothing to change or affect the standings for the playoffs, was important for this team moving forward.

“It’s momentum,” Hunt said. “We’re keeping it rolling. Winning is the only thing right now. That’s all we need to do, keep winning. Now it’s the second season, so we’ve got to keep winning.”

Hunt and the Chiefs will now prepare to host the Tennessee Titans to begin the “second season” Saturday afternoon at 3:35 p.m. CT at Arrowhead Stadium in the Wild Card round.

“We know how good we can be if we just keep it up and keep playing hard and keep looking out for one another,” Hunt added after the game. “That definitely helps your confidence, to be able to make plays.”

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