PONTIAC, Mich., Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Emmitt Smith stole the spotlight Sunday in the final game at the Pontiac Silverdome, the former home of Detroit Lions great Barry Sanders.
Smith became the first player in NFL history to reach 11 consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, surpassing a record of 10 he shared with Sanders, in the Dallas Cowboys' season finale Sunday against the Lions.
Needing 56 yards to reach 1,0000, Smith rushed for 45 by halftime. With 3:54 left in the third quarter, Smith took a pitch left and ran behind Pro Bowl guard Larry Allen for a 13-yard gain to pass 1,000 yards.
It appeared Smith would fall short of the feat, but he rushed for a total of 254 yards over the last two weeks in games against Arizona and San Francisco.
Smith surpassed Sanders and moved into second place on the all-time rushing list on September 23.
In his 12th season with the Cowboys, the 32-year-old Smith entered Sunday with 16,110 yards. Sanders rushed for 15,269 yards in 10 years with the Detroit Lions.
Walter Payton is the NFL's all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards in 13 years with the Chicago Bears.
A four-time rushing champion, Smith is the NFL's career rushing touchdowns leader with 147 and stands second in total touchdowns with 158. Jerry Rice of the Oakland Raiders is the all-time touchdown leader with 198.
The first player in NFL history with five straight seasons of over 1,400 yards rushing from 1991-95, Smith helped the Cowboys win three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s.
The 1993 NFL Most Valuable Player, Smith enjoyed his best season in 1995 when he rushed for 1,773 yards and a then-record 25 touchdowns.