The Steelers offense struggled mightily in their loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. One of the few bright spots was the play of Najee Harris, who contributed 142 yards, leading the team in both rushing and receiving yards one week after he recorded the only Steelers touchdown.
Najee Harris caught 14 passes for 102 yards for the Steelers in Week 3, and those 14 receptions are a new rookie record for a single game. The Steelers rookie record was 8 receptions in a single game for a long time, Henry Minarik set the record after being drafted in the 8th round of the 1951 draft. He set it in the last game of the Steelers’ 1951 season, a game that was also the last game of his NFL career, as he suffered an eye injury in training camp in 1952.
While other Steeler rookies would tie the record over the years, it would remain unbeaten until Minarik was 90 years old, when JuJu Smith-Schuster broke the record in the last game of the 2017 Steelers season.
JuJu Smith-Schuster would only have to wait until he was 24 to see his record fall. Najee Harris, in his third NFL game, became a major focus of a Steelers offense that only put together two scoring drives in 11 chances.
While it isn’t a record Najee Harris is likely to celebrate after such a deflating loss, it is a noteworthy achievement and may help put the few passes he should have caught and didn’t into perspective.
Looking forward, Najee Harris now has 20 receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown. That puts him 42 receptions behind the Steelers rookie season record of 62 set last year by Chase Claypool, Harris needs to average 3 receptions a game the rest of the season to tie the record, if he is healthy for most of the season he is likely to own the season record as well.
What does this all mean? On one hand it means the Steelers have a good receiver in their rookie running back, on the other hand it means they need to find some other ways to move the ball. Even if your running back is Marshall Faulk you need to be able to run the ball or get several receivers producing in the passing game. But for now, let’s all try our best to take a break from the misery of this loss to the Cincinnati Bengals to salute the Steelers new rookie single-game receiving record holder, Najee Jerome Harris. Maybe he can get 15 receptions later this season in a game the Steelers actually win.