The best rushing seasons in Steelers history

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

The Steelers have had many spectacular backs. But which one had the best single season?

On Sunday, NFL Network filled their viewing schedule with a "Top 10 Marathon", debating top individual performances that included the "Top 10 single season rushing performances".

While no Steelers player made the list, that doesn't mean that there hasn't been a shortage of sterling rushing seasons by backs in the Black and Gold.

Here's the list of the top 10 greatest Steelers individual rushing performances.

Honorable Mentions: "Bullet" Bill Dudley (1942): Dudley rushed for 696 yards on and five touchdowns on 162 carries during the '42 season. What was most impressive was his 4.3 yards per carry average during an era when defenses geared up to stop the opposition's ground attack. His efforts helped the Philadelphia/Pittsburgh Steagles record a 7-4 record.

Frank Pollard/Walter Abercrombie (1985): In 1984, Pittsburgh's two-headed monster rushing attack helped carry the Steelers to the AFC Championship Game. They collaborated to rush for 169 yards on 40 carries in the team's shocking 24-17 upset of the top-seeded Broncos in the divisional round. They were even better in '85. Pollard rushed for 991 yards on 233 carries, while Abercrombie rushed for 851 more yards to go with his team high seven touchdowns.

10) Dick Hoak (1968): The long time running backs coach for the Steelers was a pretty good player, too. His best season was 1968, when he rushed for a staggering 4.9 yards per carry for the 2-11-1 Steelers. He totaled 858 yards on 175 carries and added 253 yards on 28 receptions.

9) Johny Henry Johnson (1962): In his ninth season, Johnson rushed for a then franchise record 1,141 yards and seven touchdowns. He caught 32 passes for 226 yards and two more touchdowns. He is currently is fourth in the team's career rushing list. His 4.4 yards per carry is second to only Kordell Stewart on the list of the team's leading rushers.

8) Rocky Bleier (1976): For most of his career, Bleier was only a running back by name. He spent most of his career making gaping holes for running mate Franco Harris. But in 1976, Rock joined Franco as the second pair of teammates to each rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. He gained 1,036 yards for an average of 4.7 yards per carry with five touchdowns. He also caught 24 passes for 294 yards as the Steelers reached their third straight AFC title game.

7) Jerome Bettis (2004): After specializing as the short yardage back the first seven weeks of the year, Bettis started for an injured Duce Staley for the second half of 2004. He immediately showed flashes of his younger self, rumbling for 149 yards against the NFC Champion Eagles in his first start. He tallied six 100 yard games in an eight game span as Pittsburgh steamrolled through the competition en route to a 15-1 regular season record. Bettis rushed for 941 yards and 13 touchdowns despite only starting in six games. His performance earned him his fifth Pro Bowl berth.

6) Franco Harris (1975): Harris' 158 yard MVP performance in Super Bowl IX validated him as the premier back in the NFL. He reinforced that claim by rushing for a career best 1,246 yards in 1975 that included 10 rushing touchdowns. He also averaged 4.8 yards per carry for the second consecutive season while also pulling down 28 catches for 214 yards. He gained 314 yards in three playoff games that included a 153 yard effort in the first round against the Colts as the Steelers won their second consecutive Super Bowl title.

5) Jerome Bettis (1996): The Bus was on overdrive in 1996. He rushed for 1,431 yards and 11 touchdowns his first season in the Steel City. Bettis tallied 10 100 yard games in '96 that included a 129 yard, two touchdown effort in a 42-6 drubbing against his former team, the Rams. He gained 102 yards and two touchdowns in the team's 42-14 win over the Colts in the '96 Wild Card round.

4) Willie Parker (2006): After rushing for the longest scoring run in Super Bowl history, Willie Parker delivered an appropriate encore in 2006. He rushed for 1,494 yards and 13 touchdowns in his second season as the Steelers starting back. Fast Willie's highlights that season included his 213-yard, two touchdown effort that included a 76-yard jaunt against the NFC South Champion Saints. He gained a career-high 223 yards and a touchdown four weeks later against Cleveland. Parker also caught 31 passes for 221 yards and three more touchdowns that year.

3) Barry Foster (1992): Foster earned All-Pro honors while setting the Steelers single season rushing record in 1992. He gained 1,690 yards to go with 11 touchdowns in Bill Cowher's first season as head coach. He also pulled in 36 catches for 344 yards to become the first back in Steelers history to gain over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Among his sterling efforts that year included a 190-yard, two touchdown effort against the Jets and a 168-yard, two touchdown performance against the Colts.

2) Jerome Bettis (1997): The Bus followed up his '96 season with an even better campaign in '97. He again rushed for over 100 yards 10 times en route to 1,665 yards and seven touchdowns. His season highlights included 160 yards on the ground against the Colts, 142 yards and three touchdowns in an overtime win at Arizona, and his 125 yard, 5.0 yards per carry effort against the eventual Super Bowl champion Broncos.

1) Franco Harris (1972): Franco's magical rookie season helped propel Pittsburgh to their first ever division title and playoff victory over the Raiders. Harris delivered arguably the biggest play in franchise history in that game with the "Immaculate Reception" en route to a 13-7 win and spot in the AFC Championship. Franco started 10 games and gained 1,055 yards for a whopping 5.6 yards per carry average. He also gained 180 yards receiving on 21 catches and a score. Beyond the statistics, Harris is No.1 because of the impact he made on the franchise. His "Italian Army" engulfed the city and helped Pittsburgh become a football town.

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