Running back Najee Harris entered tonight’s game with 984 yards runs per season during her rookie year for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He needed 16 to reach 1000 yards. He needed 72 to set a new team record for fastest yards for a rookie.
He did this and more, and crossed the line spectacularly early in the third quarter, recording his longest run of the season, a 30-yard run during which he put MJ Stewart on the Cleveland Browns’ defensive back with a tear the stiff arm core. That run took him past Franco Harris’ 1055 yards set in 1972 and over 100 yards for the match.
Franco, of course, logged over 1000 yards runs during a 14-game season – the NFL wouldn’t roll out to a 16-game schedule for a few more years. He did so in just 188 running attempts, with 10 running touchdowns and 11 total touchdowns, which remains a team rookie record set by Chase Claypool last year.
Najee Harris’ 1000 yards came with much more stamina. When asked about being on the verge of hitting the mark last week before the game, he called 1000 yards “ugly”, and he’s certainly right about that, even though tonight’s game was arguably the nicer than the running game. ever had the season.
He was up to 105 yards ran at the end of the Steelers’ first drive of the second half, and only 16 courses, averaging 6.6 yards per attempt. He scored only his third 100-yard run game of the year, after a 122-yard effort in week five against the Broncos and 105 yards in the draw against Lions in week 10.
He played two more than 90-yard games in the three weeks leading up to tonight’s game, averaging 4.7 yards per carry or better in those two games. In other words, there had been some positive signs in the past few weeks.
The biggest difference in this match, however, was a change in the middle, with injured rookie Kendrick Green dressed but not on the pitch. JC Hassenauer started in his place and the inside offensive line had one of his best matches, although that doesn’t say much.
Harris has 123 scrimmage yards at this point in the game, with another 20 minutes to play. He already has the record for the most scrimmage yards. It would take some work, but it could also set the record for the most multipurpose yards (including return yards) with an excellent finish in the last 80 minutes of the year.