New win, same weird.
– Entering Sunday, Pittsburgh had gone 92 consecutive regular-season games without a 200+ yard team rushing performance. It’s the first time they’ve gone over that mark since December 11th, 2016 when Le’Veon Bell beat the Buffalo Bills in the snow.
It breaks the longest drought in team history. Prior to this streak, Pittsburgh had never gone more than four years without such a game and more often, never went more than two full seasons.
– Credit Matthew Marczi for the stat of the weird assist. Yesterday marked the first time since 2007 the Steelers ran for 200+ yards in a game without a 100-yard rusher. Najee Harris fell just shy at 99. In ’07, Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker ran for 94 and 91 yards respectively in a win over the Miami Dolphins.
– The Steelers’ run game was an all-hands-on-deck effort. Six different players have 2+ carries which happened last year, so not all that uncommon. But three Steelers – Najee Harris, Jaylen Warren, and Kenny Pickett – had 8+ carries. Three Steelers haven’t had eight or more carries in the same game since the team’s 2011 regular-season finale when Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, and – you guessed it – John Clay did so.
– Kenny Pickett has more rushing touchdowns (three) than passing touchdowns (two) so far in his rookie season.
– Since the Steelers abandoned the single-wing, Pickett is the first Pittsburgh rookie QB to rush for three touchdowns. Since the merger, he had held a tie for rookie QB rushing touchdowns with Mike Kruczek who had a pair filling in for Terry Bradshaw in 1976.
– One more rushing stat. Pittsburgh came into the game with zero runs of 20+ yards. They leave it with four, headlined by Najee Harris’ 36-yarder, the second longest of his career.
According to PFR’s game log, with data since 1994, the Steelers hadn’t had a single game with four 20+ yard runs. So they came into the game with zero on the season. They leave it doing something they haven’t done in nearly 30 years and probably longer. Wild.
The last time I can find a conclusive example of the team having four 20+ yard runs was a high-scoring win over the Cleveland Browns in 1979 when the team had at least five. Two by Franco Harris, two by Sidney Thornton, and one by Rocky Bleier.
– Diontae Johnson’s 36-yard catch was his longest grab of the season and longest since Week 14 of last season when he hauled in a 37-yard grab against the Minnesota Vikings.
– Steelers wide receivers currently on the team’s roster have as many receiving touchdowns (one) as rushing touchdowns (one). And George Pickens has them both. It was the first rushing score of his career, college or pro.
– For the second game this season, Najee Harris didn’t catch a pass. That didn’t occur once in 2021.
– Kenny Pickett has been sacked six times in each of the last two weeks. Pittsburgh hasn’t been sacked consecutively like that since the opening pair of games in 1989, two of the ugliest losses in team history. At least here, Pittsburgh picks up a win.
The last time Pittsburgh was sacked 6+ times in a game and won came in another rookie year, Ben Roethlisberger’s in 2004, when the Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 19-14 despite absorbing seven sacks. Since then until Sunday, Pittsburgh had gone 0-6.
– Alex Highsmith has at least one sack in 11 career regular season games. In six of those, he’s recorded multiple sacks, 1.5 or more. When he sacks the QB, they come in bunches.
– Will the Levi Wallace INT stat continue? In now four straight seasons, he’s picked off exactly two passes. We’ll see if he can set a career-high over the next eight games.
– Pittsburgh out-snapped New Orleans 79-45 and held the ball for 38:56. It was the best TOP they’ve had in a game since Week 11 of 2014 when they possessed it for 39:49 in a win over the Tennessee Titans. The last time they had the ball for even at least 38 minutes was in that aforementioned 2016 win over the Bills, the last time the team ran for 200+ yards.
– The Steelers defense held the Saints to just ten first downs, the first time they’ve done that since their COVID-rescheduled Wednesday game in 2020 against the Baltimore Ravens.
– Pittsburgh’s offense registered 28 first downs, the most they’ve had since a 2018 loss to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.
– Pittsburgh had 13 rushing first downs in this game. That hasn’t happened since their 2017, Week 6 win over the Chiefs when they also had 13.
– Finally, Pittsburgh also benefited from six first downs via penalty, the most since a 2019 OT loss to the Baltimore Ravens.