Did you know that the Pittsburgh Steelers hold the all-time NFL record for the most consecutive 100-yard rushing games as a team? I didn’t until yesterday when I read that the Baltimore Ravens are on the cusp of tying that record; and besides, you would never know it by looking at today’s team.
The Steelers rushed for at least 100 yards in 43 consecutive games during their prime years, from December 8, 1974 to December 12, 1977. They recorded 1,858 rushing attempts and picked up 8,128 yards during that span, with a whopping 76 touchdowns.
Heading into this week’s game, the Ravens boast an active 42-game 100-yard rushing streak, dating back to November of 2018, and they too have put up some eye-popping numbers. In fact, they have rushed for 8,530 yards in that time, though it helps to have a running quarterback. Still, they only scored 58 times on the ground compared to the 76 of Pittsburgh’s streak; then again, the Ravens scored through the air 21 more times.
Baltimore plays the Denver Broncos this Sunday evening, and it will be a challenge. Their hosts hold the second-ranked rushing defense in the NFL, allowing just 178 yards through the first three games, during which they have gone 3-0. They also hold the third-ranked passing defense. But the smart money is on them continuing to do what they do, even if they only managed 116 yards this past week against the Detroit Lions, but they still lead the league in rushing with 556 yards in three games.
It’s all the more remarkable considering they are doing it without their top three running backs. J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill all suffered ACL injuries during training camp and were lost for the year. quarterback Lamar Jackson has accounted for nearly half of their rushing yards, while Ty’Son Williams has 164 and Latavius Murray 92.
It would be somehow fitting if the Ravens call up former Steelers first-team All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell from the practice squad with the potential record-tying game on the line. They have talked for weeks about potentially calling him up, but have not done so, going with Devonta Freeman instead, another former Pro Bowler.
“I remember Franco Harris and Chuck Noll. I really do admire Chuck Noll. I really have a lot of respect for him”, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said when he was asked what he remembers from the Steelers’ 70s teams that set the original record, which continues to stand. “I read a lot of the things that he said. So, sure, that’s something that counts for something. It’s kind of not really in the forefront of our thinking right now at all, but it’s something, for sure”.
Outside of the Ravens’ recent run, and the Steelers’ record, there has only been one other streak of more than 30 games with 100 or more rushing yards by a team. That was a 37-game streak by the Buffalo Bills during the O.J. Simpson era, which spanned from late October 1973 through mid-September 1976.