Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner recorded his 10th rushing touchdown of the season on Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers. In doing so, he recorded just the 13th season in team history in which a player recorded that many rushing touchdowns.
He is just the eighth player in team history to do it, and the seventh running back, following Franco Harris, who did it five times, Jerome Bettis, who did it twice, and Rashard Mendenhall, Willie Parker, Barry Foster, and DeAngelo Williams, all of whom did it once. Quarterback Kordell Stewart also recorded 10 once.
It was the fifth game in a row in which he recorded at least one touchdown of some kind, including last week’s receiving touchdown, which gives him 11 total touchdowns on the season. That is the most that Le’Veon Bell has ever scored in a single season, and Conner’s 10 rushing touchdowns is one more than Bell’s career season-high on the ground.
He did have his 100-yard game streak snapped at four, however, as he failed to play for most of the second half, and really much of the second quarter as well. He finished the day with 65 rushing yards on 13 attempts with one rushing touchdown, adding just one reception for eight yards. While he was efficient when he did touch the ball, he only got 14 total touches.
Conner suffered a shot to the head on his rushing touchdown, and he ultimately ended the game in the locker room undergoing the concussions protocol. As of this writing it’s not known if he has been determined to have a concussion, but if he does, the good news is that he will have three extra days to recover before he has to play again.
With seven games to play, the second-year running back is on pace to set the team’s single-season touchdown record, which is owned by Parker. In 2006, he scored 13 touchdowns on the ground, but he also added another three on receptions to give him 16 on the year.
The second-highest offensive touchdown total belongs to Franco Harris, who scored 14 rushing touchdowns in 1976, but three players have scored 13, including Bettis and Mendenhall, and Antonio Brown through the air. Brown is on pace to break his own franchise record in receiving touchdowns in a single season, as he hit 10 last night with seven games to play.
As for Conner, he is as mentioned five touchdowns away from tying Parker’s team record in touchdowns scored. If you include special teams touchdowns, Louis Lipps’ 15 with two punt return touchdowns and a rushing touchdowns in 1985 would be second.
The back only has to average fewer than one touchdown per game from here on out to put all of them in the rear view mirror. With four more rushing touchdowns, he would also tie Harris’ franchise record for the most rushing touchdowns in a single season. He has four games with multiple touchdowns already.