Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jaylen Samuels has been named Week 15’s Pepsi Rookie of the Week for his outstanding performance against the New England Patriots last Sunday.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 21, 2018
Samuels rushed 19 times for 142 yards in the critical victory, both career highs for him in college or pro. He was making his second career starting filling in for James Conner and performed infinitely better than he did against the Oakland Raiders. Samuels ran with patience and power while showing his chops in the passing game, catching a crucial third down on the Steelers’ final drive. That set up Chris Boswell’s field goal to extend their lead to seven.
The 142 yards were the second most rushing yards by a Steelers rookie in franchise history, only trailing Bam Morris’ 146 in 1994.
Samuels beat out the Colts Tyquan Lewis, Bills’ Robert Foster, 49ers’ Richie James, and Dolphins’ Minkah Fitzpatrick for the honors. He is the first Steeler to take home the honors this season. It’s the tenth time a member of the AFC North has won the award. Nine times already has a Cleveland Brown won it, be it Baker Mayfield, Denzel Ward, or Nick Chubb.
He’s the first Steeler to win Rookie of the Week since Le’Veon Bell in 2013 after a big performance against the Green Bay Packers.
With Conner ruled out today, Samuels will make his third start Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints boast a much tougher run defense than the Patriots, second best in the NFL. Only Zeke Elliott in Week 13 has touched even 70 yards against them this year and even then, averaged just 3.3 yards per carry.
For the year, Samuels has carried the ball 42 times for 201 yards while chipping in 18 receptions and two touchdowns through the air. He’s still searching for the first rushing score of his career.