The Pittsburgh Steelers have a top-five offense this year, a goal that they have long sought but failed to obtain. While the goalpost for being a top-five unit changes every season based on what the other teams are doing, Pittsburgh is currently averaging over 29 points per game, which would be hard to push out of the top five in any year of any era.
The Steelers are one of seven teams in the league currently who have scored more than 25 total touchdowns. Pittsburgh has 26 in total, though two have come from defensive plays, one an interception returned for a touchdown and the other a fumble recovered in the end zone.
That means that they have 24 offensive touchdowns. Now think about that number, and where those have come from, to see how much just two players have mattered for the group so far this year.
Between running back James Conner and wide receiver Antonio Brown, the Steelers’ top player at those two positions have combined to score 17 touchdowns. That is 17 out of 24 touchdowns, or 71 percent. Only seven offensive touchdowns—one per game—have come from other players.
Conner, who is in just his first season as a starter, has nine rushing touchdowns, which currently is the second-most in the league behind Todd Gurley’s ridiculous 11 and is tied for the most in franchise history through seven games. Brown’s eight receiving touchdowns are the most in the NFL, and also tied for the most through seven games in team history.
Where have the other touchdowns come from? Only one other player on the roster has even more than one, and that would be second-year wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who has two touchdown receptions so far in seven games after posting seven in 14 games during his rookie year.
Newcomers James Washington and Ryan Switzer also have one touchdown apiece representing the wide receivers, while tight ends Jesse James and Vance McDonald also each have one. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger scrambled for a touchdown as well, which brings us to our total of 24 touchdowns: 10 on the ground, 14 through the air.
Now, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to have your scoring come from such a concentrated space. After all, sometimes that is just the way that things break. And the Steelers have been put in a number of positions so far this year in which it made sense to run the ball in the red zone, having several first and goal scenarios from the one, for example.
Still, Brown has caught eight of Roethlisberger’s 14 touchdowns passes, or 57 percent, which is a high volume. Just last season, the Steelers got 20 receiving touchdowns from other players, and 21 the year before, 20 in 2015 as well. At the moment, they are only on pace for 16.