The Pittsburgh Steelers have been one of the NFL’s most successful franchises over the last 50 years. No team has won more games than the Steelers since 1970 and along with the New England Patriots, no team has won more Super Bowls than the Steelers. Even Superman has his kryptonite and the Pittsburgh franchise has also come across some players that have just had their number throughout the years. This series will look at the Steelers’ biggest forms of kryptonite. These are players who have just had the team’s number time and time again.
The Jacksonville Jaguars have given the Steelers fits throughout the years and perhaps no player has been as consistent as running back Fred Taylor.
The Steelers’ defense has always prided itself on being able to stop the run and during the early portions of his career, Taylor looked like another running back that would be unable to break through the daunted Steelers’ defense. But oh how fast that would change.
Over his first four career against the Steelers, Taylor would muster just 190 rushing yards on 64 carriers. Then came November 19 2000 – a historic day for both the Jaguars’ running back and for the Steelers’ defense. While Taylor found himself on the right side of the record book for his performance this day, the Steelers could not say the same.
In a week 12 matchup during the 2000 season, the Jaguars’ running back not only broke through the Steelers’ defense, he ran away from them. Taylor rushed for 234 yards on 30 carries while adding four touchdowns as the Jaguars dominated in a 34-24 victory. Not only would this be the most rushing yards by a Jaguars’ player in franchise history but it still stands as the most rushing yards allowed by the Steelers’ defense ever.
Most Rushing Yards In A Game Vs The Steelers Defense
- Fred Taylor – 234 (2000)
- O.J. Simpson – 227 (1975)
- Jay Ajayi – 204 (2016)
From here, Taylor would become kryptonite to what was typically a stout Steelers’ run defense. In 11 career games against the black and gold, the former Jaguars’ running back rushed for 934 yards while averaging 4.3 yards per carry. Only three running backs in NFL history have more rushing yards against the Steelers than Taylor, though they played more frequently against the black and gold than the former Jaguars running back.
Taylor would go on to play six more regular season games against the Steelers after the 2000 season and he rushed for over 75 yards in five of those contests. The Steelers’ defense was consistently great against the run but the mighty Jaguars’ running back was consistently able to gash their defense.
After averaging 47.5 rushing yards over his first four career against the Steelers, Taylor would go on to average 106.3 rushing yards over his final seven games against the typically strong Pittsburgh defense.
The running back was often the key factor in this rivalry as well. Keep Taylor to 80 yards or less and the Steelers win. Let him exceed that and the Steelers would always depart the field with their head down. The Jaguars were 4-0 against Pittsburgh when Taylor rushed for over 80 yards or more and just 2-5 when he was held to 80 yards or less.
One of the laws of the universe is that running backs typically do not enjoy much success against the Steelers defense. That is why when one does, it is a major concern and no running back inflicted more fear into the Steelers’ defense than Fred Taylor.