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Can the Pittsburgh Steelers Deal Without James Conner?

In their loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers lost their star running back James Conner. Before leaving the game, Conner had 60 rush yards, 14 receiving yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

Pittsburgh was up 23-7 at halftime. Yet, they ended up blowing the lead and falling to LA 33-30. Cornerback Joe Haden jumped offsides on the Chargers field goal attempt to win the game. The first kick from 38 yards was no good. But with Haden’s penalty and another offsides tacked on, the Chargers third FG attempt was good.

Conner was drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft. His rookie year, he didn’t start, but was able to get multiple touches every game of the season.

This year he was expected to be a back up to running back Le’Veon Bell. With his return questionable at best, the Steelers started Conner and he has more than made up for the lack of Bell. So far this season, Conner has 201 touches for 909 rush yards and 52 receptions for 467 receiving yards. The absence of James Conner can big a big blow for the Steelers. He has 12 touchdowns already the season and is a huge dual threat.

Although Pittsburgh has Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster to keep them going, without Conner they have virtually no running game. To have a full rounded offense, both a passing game as well as a running game are needed. Teams that have much success are able to utilize both. Defenses can catch on to their schemes if all they do is pass.

Playoff Race

With the Steelers’ loss to the Chargers and the Ravens now winning three in a row, their lead in the AFC North division is only half a game. They sit as the fourth seed behind the Texans, Patriots and Chiefs. If they give up the division they would fall the sixth seed and be forced to play in the wildcard weekend.

The rest of the season for Pittsburgh isn’t as easy as they wish it was. Although they head to the “Black Hole” to face the 2-10 Raiders, they also face the red-hot New England Patriots as well as the New Orleans Saints. Then they face their rivals the Cincinnati Bengals at home for the last game of the season.

The Ravens schedule isn’t any easier, they must go into Kansas City as well as Los Angeles to face the Chargers. Tampa Bay and Cleveland are also left. Being only half a game behind, if the Steelers make one mistake they can gain the lead and possibly run away with it.

James Conner ‘s return is unknown. As of right now, he is limping, but it doesn’t seem to be too bad. His injury isn’t serious enough where he will miss the last four games of the season. The Steelers’ chances to become the AFC North winners go down tremendously if he is unable to return to the field soon. This team isn’t the same without out Conner.

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