Running back Najee Harris came up one score short of tying the Pittsburgh Steelers’ franchise rookie record for all-purpose touchdowns in a season, going into the finale with 10 scores and needing only one. He failed to score, though he missed most of the game. Fortunately, he went in needing only one yard to set a new franchise rookie record for all-purpose yards, and he did that comfortably.
First, a little clarification for anybody who might need it. Everybody knows passing yards, rushing yards, and receiving yards. Yards from scrimmage is combined yards rushing and receiving. All-purpose yards also includes return yards on kicks and punts (as well as defensive return yardage on fumbles and interceptions).
Harris recorded 1,200 rushing yards this season and 467 receiving yards. That gave him 1,667 all-purpose yards on the year, surpassing the mark of 1,613 yards set by former wide receiver and return specialist Antwaan Randle El, who in 2002 caught 47 passes for 489 yards, rushed 19 times for 134 yards, returned 37 punts for 257 yards, and returned 32 kicks for 733 yards.
That all added up to 1,613, and Harris had 1,612 all-purpose yards heading into the finale. He tied the record on the first play of the game with a one-yard run, and broke it a play later on another one-yard run. Of course, he suffered an arm injury on the next play, and would not return until late in the third quarter, at which point he would pick up another 49 yards, giving him 55 in total for the game on 15 touches.
You may see out there that Stefon Logan recorded 1,751 all-purpose yards for the Steelers back in 2009. That is a fact; however, he was not a rookie that season, but rather a first-year player. He originally went undrafted in 2007, but did not make an NFL 53-man roster prior to the 2009 season.
Logan had one five-yard reception that season, but he added 1,746 yards in returns, which is the most in team history, ahead of Ernie Mills’ 1,306 in 1995 and Antonio Brown’s 1,062 in 2011. Brown became the first player ever to record 1,000 return yards and 1,000 receiving yards in the same season that year. And then he was taken off kick returns, after making the Pro Bowl as a returner.
For those wondering, Harris’ mark only ranks 71st all-time in all-purpose yards for rookie and first-year players; Stathead gives no easy way to filter out first-year players from rookies, however, so I can’t easily tell you where he would rank purely among rookies.
He does rank just behind Jerome Bettis, who had 1,673 all-purpose yards as a Ram in 1993. Tim Brown holds the all-time record of 2,317 yards, recording 725 receiving yards, 50 rushing yards, 444 punt-return yards, and 1,098 kick-return yards. Gale Sayers is second with 2,272 (Danny Amendola is in between them on the list, but he was a first-year player in 2009 when he put up 2,302 yards).