On day when Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster combined for just 84-yards and one touchdown, it is hard to imagine the Pittsburgh Steelers could win a game against any opponent, let alone the New England Patriots. But on this Sunday at Heinz Field, the Steelers somehow achieved the impossible thanks to the contributions of the 165th pick of the 2018 NFL draft.
While the performance of the defense cannot be overlooked, the efforts of Jaylen Samuels were crucial to a Pittsburgh victory. The Steelers would finally gain control of the game in the second half behind his strong running and he would end the day with 142-yards off 19 carries for an average of 7.5 yards an attempt. Two receptions for another 30 yards would also include a critical third down catch on the final drive of the fourth quarter.
The young running back set the tone early with a 25-yard run on the team’s opening drive and completed runs of 10, 17, 14, 15 and 15 yards throughout the contest.
Speaking to the media after the game, Samuels revealed it was the first time he had rushed for more than 100-yards in his life, dating back all the way through high school and the first time he had ever had as many as 19 attempts.
However, despite all his yards on the ground, his catch on the final drive of the game might have been his biggest play of the afternoon.
When Pittsburgh needed a scoring drive that could eat up time, Samuels would pitch in for 49 of the 61-yards the Steelers gained on their final series that began on their own 4-yard. A drive that started with 7.43 left in the game would consume 5.13 off the clock and wipe out New England’s timeouts in the process.
Silencing the doubters who came out in force after his 28-yards from 11 carries in Week 14, the rookie running back will face a much stiffer challenged next Sunday against the No. 1 ranked run defense in the New Orleans Saints if James Conner is forced to sit out once again.