Good JuJu Much-Needed On A Bad Offensive Day For Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers just recorded about their ugliest win of the year, eking out a 20-17 lead with time expiring on a Chris Boswell field goal. The third-year kicker had an extra point blocked and missed a prior potential game-winning field goal earlier in the fourth quarter, but I’ll have more on that later.

Right now I want to talk about, in my opinion, the star of the game, rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who continues his ascent both within the team and around the league. He caught five passes today for 97 yards and a touchdown, after setting career-highs with seven and 193—and another touchdown—in his previous game.

Today’s numbers give the second-round pick 29 receptions on the season for 521 yards and a team-leading five touchdown passes, while he continues to have some of the better celebrations in the league, having Le’Veon Bell mime an A.J. Green chokeslam after he provided the Steelers their first touchdown of the game.

The rookie was once again a very large part of the team’s offense, outgaining everybody in total yardage except for Le’Veon Bell, who had 112 yards from scrimmage. Antonio Brown was the only other player on the team to come within 50 yards of his receiving total, and he had exactly 50 fewer yards at 47.

And he came up with a number of big plays. His first reception of the game was an 11-yarder on second and 10, a pretty important one considering how bad the offense has been on third down.

Late in the first half, with the two-minute offense running, he took a short pass on second and one 15 yards that got them close to field goal range, ultimately getting that field goal and finally getting themselves on the board.

Two plays after he had a six-yard reception from the Colts’ eight-yard line negated by an offensive pass interference penalty because of a pick play, Ben Roethlisberger found him in the middle of the end zone on a slant for the seven-yard score, which made it a one-possession game again.

While Roethlisberger misfired under pressure a bit on the next drive on third and five, the rookie still nearly snagged a high pass that he likely would have caught if not for a big hit from the safety. Later, the two connected again on a big 20-yard strike on a seam route on third and 12 on a drive that should have given them a lead, if not for a missed field goal.

Oh yeah, and he also had another double-explosive play prior to that, helping set up his own touchdown with a great combative catch down the right sideline for 44 yards.

Smith-Schuster already led all rookies in receiving yards coming into this game, and should be a safe bet to retain that lead after his big game today. He also broke a tie for the most touchdown receptions with Giants tight end Evan Engram, who is playing right now, so that could change.

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