The Pittsburgh Steelers went into the 2018 season expecting to have their Killer Bs intact. They had two of the three, before Le’Veon Bell held out. A year later, none of them are here. Even JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner are currently out. But their reserves have been making plays in recent weeks in their absence.
We’ve already talked about the big couple of games that James Washington has had. In the two games Smith-Schuster has been sidelined, he has gone for a combined seven catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns, with four explosive plays in that stretch.
But let’s not forget about Benny Snell, who is really showcasing Benny Snell Football over the past two weeks. Making it all the more impressive is the fact that this is his first real extensive work, and he’s been doing that coming off fresh from a knee injury that sidelined him for three games.
Head coach Mike Tomlin was predictably complimentary of his rookie runner, describing him as “a guy that gets better as the game goes on”. He ultimately finished the game with 16 rushes for 63 yards—just a yard shy of a 4.0 average—but he had several key runs in situational work.
“He’s got the mentality of a featured runner”, Tomlin went on. “He likes the grit associated with a volume of carries. I think he gets better as the game goes on. None of that is surprising to us. We saw it on Kentucky tape. But it’s good to see that he can take it to Sunday stadiums”.
Snell ultimately accounted for 16 of the Steelers’ 27 designed runs (Devlin Hodges had multiple scrambles, plus kneeldowns), but they ran well as a team overall, with Jaylen Samuels contributing 32 yards on seven carries.
One of Snell’s biggest moments was simply picking up positive yardage late in the game. After a bad call by the officials spotted them the ball at the one-yard line on what should have been a touchback—and then a false start pushed them back to the half-yard mark—he rushed for 11 yards with 5:35 remaining to get the offense out of its own end zone.
That was a big play that ultimately allowed the Steelers to kill most of the remaining clock. He really only had one negative play off the top of my head, a loss of six on second and goal from the six-yard line, but he made up for it two plays later, after a defensive pass interference penalty, by scoring his first touchdown of his career and giving the team a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.