Barry Sanders and Emmitt Smith get the job done in their own special ways.
Sanders is elusive, shifty and a threat to go the distance each time he touches the ball.Smith is more of a straight-ahead runner who has subtle moves, balance, and the heart of a champion fighter. He doesn't have the speed to outrun safeties once he breaks in the clear.
Sanders has one rushing title. Smith has three and is working on a fourth.
Both will be reaching for new career goals on Monday night when the Detroit Lions (1-1) meet Smith and the Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys (2-0) in Texas Stadium.
Sanders, in his sixth season, is only 75 yards away from 7,000-career yards. Smith, playing in his fifth year, is only 40 steps away from 6,000 yards.
"I usually don't watch the other team's offense when I'm on the sidelines," Smith said. "But I always watch Barry. You never know where he's going to go. He is just so quick, has tremendous moves, and has great balance."
Smith said he doesn't see the matchup as a Barry vs. Emmitt deal.
"We both have big old targets painted on us and everybody is trying to hit the bull's eye," Smith said. "Neither one of us will be out there trying to tackle the other."
Dallas safety Darren Woodson said the two teams are driven by the success of their running backs.
"If you stop Emmitt you really hurt our offense," Woodson said. "It's the same for Detroit if you stop Sanders."
Dallas coach Barry Switzer said Sanders, who played at Oklahoma State, is the best he's seen - other than Emmitt.