Week 17 Bama Pro of the Week: Najee Harris
Each week during the NFL regular season, I'll award one standout Alabama player of the week whose performance boosted his team to victory. The only criteria being his team must win. At the end of the season, I'll name the MVP and hand out a few other awards to recognize the excellence the Alabama Crimson Tide has present in the NFL.
With a league-best 55 (counting Jalen Hurts) active players under contract across 28 franchises, there are plenty of options to choose from. Here's this week's winner:
Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back Najee Harris secured 181 of his career-high 188 rushing yards after contact Monday night against the Cleveland Browns, boosting his team to victory with a career-long 37-yard touchdown to secure a 26-14 win and his second Bama Pro of the Week award this season.
Harris became the Steelers rookie rushing-yardage record holder on his first 30-plus-yard run of the night, ending it with an emphatic stiff-arm that would make Derrick Henry blush. The previous record-holder was Steelers legend Franco Harris who rushed for 1,055 yards in 1972. Najee Harris now has 1,172 yards rushing this season, which ranks fourth in the NFL.
Harris closed his night with a 37-yard touchdown on a 3rd-and-2. Harris was supposed to go down after picking up the first so that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger could kneel out the clock in his final home game at Heinz Field. He didn't go down and scored his seventh rushing touchdown of the season -- a score that likely determined thousands of fantasy football championships.
After an interception on the Browns' next possession, Roethlisberger was able to have one final kneel down at home against Cleveland. After the game, Roethlisberger had nothing but praise for his running back.
“Man, I’m so proud,” Roethlisberger said. “He was still sitting there when I came over here and I just told him 'thank you.' I said, 'I’m so proud of you.' He’s a heck of a football player. Tonight, it’s like he ran possessed tonight. Some of the things he did was just special, and he gave us this victory.”
With three catches for 18 yards, Harris eclipsed the 200-yard mark from scrimmage for the first time in his career. His 366 touches on the season (296 carries, 70 receptions) are the most in the NFL. He has the most touches without a fumble in the NFL this season.
Next week, the Steelers close down the regular season when Roethlisberger's career began: M&T Bank Stadium against the rival Baltimore Ravens.
And now for our honorable mentions:
- A'Shawn Robinson, Rams: Six tackles and a sack.
- Josh Jacobs, Raiders: 16 carries for 63 yards and a touchdown with four receptions for 17 yards.
- Mac Jones, Patriots: 22-30 passing for 227 yards and three touchdowns
- Damien Harris, Patriots: Nine carries for 35 yards and two touchdowns with one reception for 12 yards.
- Christian Barmore, Patriots: Three tackles and a sack.
- CJ Mosley, Jets: 13 tackles.
Be sure to tune back into tide1009.com each Tuesday to see the Bama Pro of the Week throughout the NFL season. Here's each winner from the 2021 season so far: