PITTSBURGH — When the Steelers drafted Jaylen Samuels out of NC State in the 2018 NFL Draft, the thing that they liked the most about him was his versatility.
With Wolfpack, Samuels lined up just about everywhere on offense, from tight end to H-back, flanker, running back, fullback and even Wildcat quarterback.
In 2019, the Steelers reached back into Raleigh once more, when they added running backs coach Eddie Faulkner to their coaching staff.
Monday night, in a crucial matchup of AFC North teams that started the season 0-3, the Steelers had Faulkner and Samuels back to some of their old tricks.
During the week of practice leading up to Monday night’s showdown with the Bengals, the Steelers added a Wildcat package that paid huge dividends in gettin the team’s running game moving along for the first time this season.
Like he was at NC State, Samuels was the team’s Wildcat quarterback, and he worked the formation to significant success.
Samuels was credited with three passes for 31 yards to James Conner on pop passes out of the direct-snap formation, and he also ran for 26 yards on 10 carries himself, some from traditional handoffs from quarterback Mason Rudolph and others as keepers out of the Wildcat.
That’s how he scored his first career rushing touchdown early in the third quarter to give the Steelers a two-score lead. It wasn’t exactly the same play call that the Wolfpack ran in 2017, but the skills that the Steelers scouting staff saw in Samuels’ tape came out at the NFL level.
In total, the Steelers ran out of the formation seven times for 46 yards and a touchdown for a nearly 7 yards per carry average.
“We put something in this week and we just came out here and just executed,” Samuels said. “Me and James, we did a good job of executing the snap-count cadence, just controlling the offense. We made it go. Five yard runs turned into 10 yard runs. We just kept running it. We kept executing it. They couldn’t stop it.”
Samuels said his experience in running it at NC State made for a smooth transition.
“I did a lot, especially third-down, red-zone situations in college. I was very used to it. It wasn’t anything new to me, just different plays.”
After unveiling the Wildcat in the first half, the Steelers went back to a more traditional running game for the first drive of the second half. Conner took a shotgun handoff for 21 yards. Samuels took one up the middle for five and then took a short dump-off up the middle for 14. Even with the Bengals stacking the box with eight men, the Steelers were able to run the ball.
Samuels credited the Wildcat.
“It opened up the play-action,” he said. “We did a couple other things that wasn’t Wildcat with me in the game and James in the game. We did a lot of different things to keep the defense off their feet.”
Terrell Edmunds Explains New Nickname
Terrell Edmunds informs the media, including Mike Asti and Alan Saunders of Steelers Now, about his new nickname. Call him “Old Fashioned” from now on. He also expresses how feels about the current state of the Steelers, and that’s obviously includes being happy about the team’s record but also understanding the need to improve.
Steelers Week 10 Game vs. Bengals Flexed to 4:25 p.m. National Broadcast
The Steelers game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10 has been flexed into a national television broadcast slot.
The Steelers and Bengals will now kick off at Heinz Field on Sunday, Nov. 15 at 4:25 p.m. The game had originally been scheduled to kick at 1 p.m. It will be broadcast nationally on FOX. All of that weekend’s early games will be broadcast on FOX, as CBS has coverage of The Masters, which was rescheduled from this summer.
The game will be Pittsburgh’s first matchup against 2020 NFL Draft No. 1 pick, Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow.
The Steelers are also playing a 4:25 p.m., nationally broadcast game in Week 9 against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. That game will be televised by CBS.
That will be the second time this season the Steelers will be placed in a nation-wide television slot. The team opened the season playing on ESPN’s Monday Night Football against the New York Giants.
The Steelers’ Week 7 game against the Tennessee Titans was protected by CBS in a 1 p.m. time slot, but was broadcast nearly nationwide, with CBS only showing two other 1 p.m. games.
The Steelers will play on national television at least three more times this season: against the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday, Nov. 26, on Sunday Night Football against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 13 and at the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday, Dec. 21.
What Does Being NFL’s Last Unbeaten Team Portend for Steelers?
The Steelers are the last remaining undefeated team in the NFL after beating the formerly unbeaten Tennessee Titans on Sunday while the Seattle Seahawks lost on Sunday night, leaving the Steelers as the only 6-0 team in the nation.
What does that mean for them in the long term? Not as much as you might think.
In the last 20 years, one of the last undefeated teams didn’t even make the playoffs three times: 2002 4-0 San Diego Chargers, 2014 3-0 Philadelphia Eagles and the 2016 5-0 Minnesota Vikings. Ten other times, one of the last undefeated teams (some years, there are more than one), lost in the first or second round of the NFL playoffs.
Just once since 2000 has the last undefeated team won the Super Bowl, in 2006 when the Indianapolis Colts started 9-0 on the way to winning Super Bowl XLI.
In the first three decades of the league’s modern era, that was significantly different. The last undefeated team won six Super Bowls in the 1990s, two in the 1980s and three in the 1970s, including the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who finished a perfect 17-0, the only team in NFL history to do so.
More recently, being the last undefeated team has resulted in a bunch of Super Bowl losses, including the last time the Steelers were the league’s last unbeaten team.
The 2001 St. Louis Rams, 2002 Oakland Raiders, 2004 Eagles, 2007 New England Patriots, 2009 Colts, 2010 Steelers, 2015 Carolina Panthers, 2018 Los Angeles Rams and the 2019 San Francisco 49ers all made it to the championship game after being the last undefeated team before losing in the end.