The Pittsburgh Steelers’ performance in the ground game on Sunday wasn’t just a good game by their standards. By total yardage, it was actually the best game that they had on the ground in nearly three years. Totaling 169 rushing yards from scrimmage, it’s the most rushing yards that they have had in a game since week six of the 2017 season against the Kansas City Chiefs, a 19-13 victory in which Le’Veon Bell carried the ball 32 times for 179 yards, with James Conner adding 14, totaling 194 yards that day.
Not in any one single game throughout the entire 2019 and 2018 season did the Steelers manage to rush for 169 yards or more, as they did against the Houston Texans. Not to say that they haven’t come close. They had five games in total during those two seasons in which they rushed for 150-plus yards, but they only reached 160 or more one time—finishing with 168 yards against the Cleveland Browns in week eight of 2018.
That game still marks a career-high in rushing yards for Conner, putting up 146 yards on the ground on 24 carries with two rushing touchdowns, including a long of 30 yards. He also caught five passes for 66 yards for his first and only game with 200-plus yards from scrimmage.
In contrast to the two games highlighted above, Sunday’s effort against Houston was a bit of a more collective effort. Conner did rush for 109 yards on his own on 18 carries, but rookie Anthony McFarland also contributed 42 yards on the ground by himself. Benny Snell and Diontae Johnson added another 20 yards to the total.
In case you were curious, the last time that the Steelers posted 200-plus yards on the ground in a game was back in 2016, in week 14 against the Buffalo Bills, a snowy win in which Bell rushed for 236 yards on 38 carries with three rushing touchdowns. The rest of the team combined for four yards. Bell’s 236 rushing yards was the most in team history in a single game, and ranks 24th all-time. Only two active players—Adrian Peterson, who holds the all-time record, and Derrick Henry—have rushed for more.
The Steelers have rushed for over 100 yards as a team in each of their first three games this season. The last time they managed this was in 2010, when they totaled 450 yards through three games (they currently have 419). They did nearly pull it off in 2014 as well, missing the mark by one yard, but they totaled 490 yards in their first three games.
The last time they rushed for 100-plus yards in three straight games was from weeks 13-15 last season. But they have also thrown for over 200 yards in each game. The last time they have done both over a three-game stretch was between weeks 8-10 in 2018.