James Conner brings sunshine to Pittsburgh

James Conner brings sunshine to Pittsburgh
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The gloom that hung over Pittsburgh after the tragedy at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue was partly erased Sunday by the performance of one of the city’s heroes.

Nothing will ever erase the tragic events of Saturday October 27 in Squirrel Hills, Pittsburgh. Eleven people lost their lives and others were badly injured in a tragic incident that sadly is happening all too often.

NinetyNineYards send their deepest sympathy with thoughts and prayers to the city of Pittsburgh and all those affected by the tragedy.

Pittsburgh loves its football

Pittsburgh loves its sports and the city loves its football team. High on the list of the city’s sports heroes is Steelers running back James Conner. Hero can be an overused, glamourous word when describing a sports person. Yinzers* definitely hold Conner in high esteem.

He first made an impression when playing football at the University of Pittsburgh. When he suffered an MCL injury in 2015, the hospital also discovered he had a form of cancer – Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

After being declared cancer free in the off season, Conner returned in 2016 to register a 1000-yard plus season with sixteen touchdowns. His story captured the hearts of a city who followed his recovery with intense interest because they were proud of the player.

When he was drafted by the Steelers in 2017, most fans were ecstatic. Some thought it was a symbolic move on behalf of the team. How could any team use a third-round draft pick as a goodwill measure? That would be my question?

Last season, while suffering an injury and adapting to the move from college to the professional game, he struggled. This season he was thrust to the forefront of the Steelers running game because of the absence of Le’Veon Bell.

To step into the shoes of an All-Pro running back would usually be considered impossible. Conner has risen to the challenge and Yinzers have enjoyed every yard of it. Sunday, he put on a special show that would have helped heal the wounds of a city that is suffering great pain.

James Conner’s 2018 season

On Sunday, James Conner had 146 yards rushing and 66 yards receiving. Those 212 yards were just shy of the total Cleveland Browns offense of 237 yards.

  • He led all Steelers players in multiple categories, including yards from scrimmage (212), rushing yards (146) and rushing touchdowns (2), adding 5 catches for 66 yards.
  • He has rushed for at least 100 yards and two touchdowns in three consecutive games, becoming the first player in Steelers history with such a streak and the first NFL player since 2009 (Chris Johnson).
  • He has scored nine rushing touchdowns in the first seven games of 2018, tying Franco Harris (1976) for the most by a Steeler in the first seven games of a season.
  • He has rushed for two touchdowns in three straight games, and in four games on the season.
  • He is the first Steeler in team history to rush for two touchdowns in three consecutive games.
  • He has rushed for at least 100 yards in three consecutive games and four gamestotal on the season.
  • His streak of three consecutive 100-rushing yard games is the first by a Steeler since 2016 (Le’Veon Bell, four games, November 20-December 11).
  • Conner had two rushing touchdowns in weeks 1, 5 and 6, is the third first-or-second year player to record four games with at least two rushing touchdowns in his team’s first seven games of a season, joining Pro Football Hall of Famers Steve Van Buren (1945), Jim Brown (1958) and Eric Dickerson (1983).
  • He has now eclipsed 150 yards from scrimmage for the third time in 2018.

* Definition of “Yinzers” – people who identify themselves with the city of Pittsburgh.

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