Sometimes there’s just nothing quite like a complete offensive performance. Sunday’s victory over the Cincinnati Bengals may have been the closest the Pittsburgh Steelers have come to achieving that so far this season, even if they did stall twice in the red zone—even once on the one-yard line.
But they got contributions from almost everybody. The only players ordinarily eligible to touch the football who did not were James Washington, Justin Hunter, and Jaylen Samuels. Even Xavier Grimble had two catches.
And they also got production where it mattered most, from their top players. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for over 100 yards. Both wide receivers Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster recorded over 100 yards receiving. Running back James Conner rushed for over 100 yards. They also got three touchdowns out of that group.
It was the first time in nearly three years that the team had two 100-yard receivers, a 100-yard rusher, and a 300-yard passer all in the same game. The last time that it happened was in December of 2015 in a dominant performance against the Indianapolis Colts.
In that game, Roethlisberger completed 24 of 39 passes for 364 yards, throwing four touchdowns spread out between Brown, Martavis Bryant, and Markus Wheaton. Both Brown and Bryant surpassed the 100-yard mark, while running back DeAngelo Williams picked up 134 yards on the ground on 26 carries.
It’s not exactly impossible to get two 100-yard receivers in the same game. It has already happened twice this year, in fact, though in each case—the last four cases—one of the two was not a wide receiver.
Smith-Schuster gained over 100 yards in each of the first three games of this season. In Week Two, tight end Jesse James also had 138 yards. In Week Three, it was Vance McDonald, yet another tight end, chipping in 112 yards. McDonald and Brown both went over 100 receiving yards in the playoff loss last season. In December against the Bengals, Brown and Bell both went over 100 yards.
As I said, it’s not that hard to make that happen. But to do that and rush the ball frequently and effectively is another matter. That is the indication of a complete offensive performance, and it’s not something that happens that often.
In the Steelers’ case, it hadn’t happened for nearly three years. But they pulled it out at the last minute—literally, as that is what it took for both Brown and Smith-Schuster to top 100 yards, spanning over 50 combined in the final handful of seconds—by necessity to secure a crucial divisional win.