The Pittsburgh Steelers just secured a much-needed victory over the division rival Cincinnati Bengals, winning by a margin of 33-20 after scoring 17 points off of turnovers. They scored only twice, however, via the offensive touchdown, adding an interception returned for a score and four field goals.
Those two offensive touchdowns both came courtesy of starting running back DeAngelo Williams, who in seven starts now has eight rushing touchdowns on the season. The eight rushing touchdowns matches the career-high mark that Le’Veon Bell has set for himself in each of his first two seasons. Bell had three rushing touchdowns this year.
No Steelers running back has had more than eight rushing touchdowns in a season since Rashard Mendenhall punched home nine rushes in 2011. The former first-round draft pick also had 13 rushing touchdowns during the 2010 season.
It goes without saying that Williams stands a good chance of becoming the first Steelers running back to go over eight rushing touchdowns in a regular season since Mendenhall, and figures to have the first double-digit number since 2010, with three games remaining.
The 32-year-old’s two rushing touchdowns today also marks the third time this season that he has recorded multiple rushing touchdowns in a game. He now has 14 such games in his 10-year career, the first 11 coming in his first nine seasons with the Panthers.
The last time that Williams recorded at least three games in a season with multiple rushing touchdowns came in 2008, in what was clearly the best year of his career. In his third season that year, he rushed for 1515 yards on 273 carries, averaging 5.5 yards per rush, finishing with 18 rushing touchdowns. He had four games with multiple rushing touchdowns that year, including two games with four rushing touchdowns.
In no other season has Williams ever had as many as three games with multiple rushing touchdowns. His eight this year is also the second-most that he has ever had in his career, surpassing two seasons in which he rushed for seven touchdowns.
On the season, the key free agent pickup now has 773 rushing yards on 164 carries, averaging 4.7 yards per carry, which is the best mark that he has had since 2011. Should he gain 227 rushing yards—a pace of about 76 yards per game, which is what he had today—he will finish with just the third 1000-yard season of his career, and he will have done it in just 10 starts.
An underrated aspect of Williams’ season has been his effectiveness near the goal line. All eight of his rushing touchdowns have come from within six yards of the goal line, with seven of them inside three yards, and six from two yards out or less. He has been nothing short of a finisher for the Steelers when they turn to the running game in goal to go situations this year.