Former Pitt star and current Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner was in Carson, California, on Sunday night to take on the Los Angeles Chargers in a primetime matchup aired on NBC, and he made the most of his time in the national spotlight, as he posted 119 yards from scrimmage. It was his second 100-yard game of the season.
Before a crowd of more than 25,000 described by Al Michaels on Sunday Night Football as "80 percent" Steelers fans, Conner led the Steelers with 78 receiving yards in addition to contributing 41 yards on the ground. The native of Erie, Pennsylvania, also scored on a 12-yard run in the first quarter and on a 26-yard reception from Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges in the second quarter.
However, Conner was last spotted on the field late in the third quarter, when he caught a pass from Hodges out of the shotgun and ran it for 12 yards. He was taken down by Chargers safety Roderic Teamer, who made contact with Conner’s right thigh. Later, it was revealed that Conner had suffered a quad injury, and he would not return to the game.
The game was Conner’s second with 100 or more yards this season and his first with both a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown. He was also six yards shy of his season-high of 125 total yards, which he racked up in the Steelers’ 27-3 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 30. The Steelers notably won both games in which Conner topped the century mark, as the team's offense has been reliant on him to provide a spark.
With that said, Conner and his teammates in the Steelers backfield have struggled to get much going on the ground, as none of them have been able to post a 100-yard rushing game yet this season. But Conner noted that statistics aren’t his primary concern.
“I’m not going to go for 100 yards, two touchdowns every game,” Conner said, per Mike Prisuta of Steelers.com. “That’s why you just cancel out the noise when you’re not having big numbers on the ground and stuff like that. It takes patience, it’s a long season. Just gotta have patience with it, we’ll have these big games.”
Conner will get an opportunity to heal up over the next two weeks, as the team’s next scheduled matchup is with the Miami Dolphins on the Oct. 28 edition of Monday Night Football. The Dolphins rank 31st in the NFL in rushing defense, as they have allowed 169.6 yards per game.