This isn’t Madden. Running backs can’t hold out a stiff arm every time and expect it’s going to work. Najee Harris has used it just a handful of times this season, but when it works, it works. Cleveland Browns DB M.J. Stewart was his latest victim, tossed into the ground at the end of Harris’ 32-yard run against the Cleveland Browns Monday night.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Harris dished out the secrets of the stiff arm he dishes out to defenders.
“The open field stiff arms that I’ve been doing, I try to get them to stop their feet,” he told reporters via Steelers.com. “So they have no momentum or anything. They’re kind of just like in the ground. It’s just tactics to work on, you what I mean? Just me just thinking too damn much at home.”
On that play, Harris slowed up to get Stewart to slow down and then hit him with the stiff arm. While Stewart is a pretty small guy, he’s regarded as a tough, physical corner who doesn’t get pushed around easily.
It’s far from the only time Harris has used the stiff arm as a weapon. His first showing of it in the regular season this year came in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders, sending safety Johnathan Abram flying into the sideline.
With or without the use of a stiff arm, Harris has run tough all season long, slogging his way to nearly 1,000 yards before breaking out in Monday night’s performance, going for 188 yards in the win. It was the most rushing yards by a rookie in Steelers’ history, breaking Bam Morris’ 27-year-old mark.
With that game at his back, his season numbers look a lot more respectable. He’s carried the ball already a whopping 296 times for 1,172 yards, an average of 4.0 yards per carry, with seven rushing scores.
As Dave Bryan pointed out on today’s Terrible Podcast, with Bengals RB Joe Mixon on the COVID list and Browns RB Nick Chubb probably being scaled back for a meaningless finale, there’s a good chance Harris will finish the year with the second-most rushing yards in football, trailing only Indy’s Jonathan Taylor. Harris currently sits in fourth place but is just 33 yards behind Mixon for second.