Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris continued his second-half resurgence with a great game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, scoring a touchdown and rushing for 86 yards on 24 carries.
One person who in particular was happy with Harris’ performance was former Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. On his podcast, Footbahlin’ with Ben Roethlisberger, Roethlisberger talked about how happy he was to see that touchdown and he wants Harris to keep running like that.
“When Naj [Najee] got his rushing touchdown, he came one-on-one with the DB [defensive back],’ Roethlisberger said. “And he did nothing but say ‘There’s literally nothing you can do to stop me.’ I was literally yelling ‘do that Naj more often!’ Like Naj on third down do that, run through that guy.”
Harris, standing at 6’1″ and weighing 232 pounds, is a huge back who can bowl people over. However, he has come under some criticism for trying to use his athleticism to attempt to outrun defenders which normally does not lead to the desired result.
However, since the bye week, Harris has begun to use that big frame of his more often and inflict punishment on his opponents. In his last six games, which includes a game he left early due to injury, Harris is averaging 71.5 yards per game and is rushing at a little over four yards per carry.
Harris and Roethlisberger only played together for one season, but in that one season, Harris played a big part in getting Roethlisberger to the playoffs. Last season. Harris rushed for a franchise rookie record for rushing yards with 1,200. On 381 touches, Harris ran for a respectable 3.9 yards per carry while pitching in seven rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns.
Roethlisberger continued praising Harris later on in the podcast, saying that Harris could be unstoppable if he continues trying to run through people.
“He just has to do it. And, and I hope that he says, ‘This is what I can do and I should do,’ because that dude is unstoppable and that’s what he can be.”
With the improvement of the offensive line and Harris getting healthier, the rushing game has taken a front seat in Pittsburgh. With a rookie quarterback in Kenny Pickett being the starter it has helped him play better since the bye week as well, taking pressure off of him. Going into next season, if Harris and the offensive line can continue to improve, with Pickett hopefully making a second-year jump, the Steelers’ offense has the ability to be a top-15 or better unit.
Of course, there is a lot of “ifs” in that statement, but right now under head coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Matt Canada it seems that the Steelers want to be a physical, run-first team. For that to succeed, Harris all have to follow Roethlisberger’s advice and keep running people over and become “unstoppable.”