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Crunching the Numbers: 2018 Steelers rushing statistics

A comparison of the Steelers’ 2018 rushing statistics to past seasons and the rest of the league.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports


The Steelers finished 2018 ranked 31st in both rushing yards (1,445) and rushing attempts (345). Only the Arizona Cardinals has fewer rushing yards (1,342), while the Green Bay Packers had the least amount of rushing attempts (333) in 2018. Based on the teams which ranked lower than them, the Steelers were last in both categories in the AFC.


The Steelers 345 rushing attempts was a franchise low for a 16-game season. The next closest season was 2015 when the Steelers rushed the ball 388 times. Other than the 289 attempts in the strike shortened nine-game season of 1982, it is the fewest rushing attempts since 1935 (327 rushes in 12 games).


The magic number for rushing attempts for the Steelers during the 2018 season seemed to be 20. When the Steelers rushed the ball 20 times or more, their record was 8-0-1. When failing to reach 20 attempts in a game, the Steelers were 1-6. The only win with less than 20 rushing attempts was in Jacksonville (11 attempts), a game in which the Steelers only led for 0:03. Only two other games during the NFL season featured a team with less rushing attempts.


On the season, the Steelers averaged 21.56 rushes per game for 2018. Although this average put them over their 20 carries-per-game threshold, it did not fare well historically. In fact, the 2018 season was the lowest rushing attempts per game in franchise history by more than 4.5 carries.


The Pittsburgh Steelers managed to find the end zone on the ground 16 times in 2018, which ranked them in a tie for seventh in the NFL. Additionally, the Steelers have not scored more rushing touchdowns in a season since 2005 (21).


With 12 rushing touchdowns, James Conner finished tied for third in the NFL with Derrick Henry. Only Todd Gurley (17) and Alvin Kamara (14) finished ahead of them. The total on 12 rushing TD’s ranks Conner fifth all-time for the Steelers in a single season behind Franco Harris (14 in 1976), Jerome Bettis (13 in 2004), Rashard Mendenhall (13 in 2010), and Willie Parker (13 in 2006).


Running backs for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2018 had a total of 26 plays in which they rushed for negative yardage. Of those 26, 18 belong to James Conner with four each going to Stevan Ridley and Jaylen Samuels. To place this total in perspective, 2017 had 35 negative rushes by Steelers running backs, 27 of which were by Le’Veon Bell. In 2018, there were 17 running backs in the NFL that had more negative yardage rushes than James Conner.