Isaiah Crowell tears up the Steelers defense, again


Even if your seats are in the last row of FirstEnergy Stadium, you know when Cleveland Browns rookie running back Isaiah Crowell has the football in his hands.

On Sunday against the Steelers, Crowell carried the football 11 times for 77 yards, good for seven yards per touch. He also added the Browns' first touchdown in the second quarter on a 5-yard sprint, making that his third career score against Pittsburgh's vaunted defensive scheme.

According to STATS LLC, Crowell is the sixth player since 1999 to score three rushing touchdowns against the Steelers in a season, joining Corey Dillon (Bengals, 2002), Arlen Harris (Rams, 2003), Priest Holmes (Chiefs, 2003), Jamal Lewis (Ravens, 2004) and Fred Taylor (Jaguars, 2000).

"We knew we could run the ball," said Crowell. "Everything that happened the second half of last game happened this game. We knew that we could play with these guys, we knew we could beat them and that's what we did."

"They did everything," said Steelers veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons. "Mixing in the run and the pass and mixing it up real well keeping us guessing."

Crowell's running style can best be described as violent acceleration. Normally running backs who seek out contact aren't as fast as Crowell is. By now, his burly 225-pound frame isn't fooling defenses: they know he can hit home runs with his quick-moving feet.

According to, Crowell has the highest percentage of any running back in the league in terms of runs of 15 yards or more (he has six of them). Crowell's 5.4 yards per carry is second in the NFL and his four touchdowns are tied for third in the league.

Team the statistics up with Crowell's vision and one-cut running ability. Because he played some of the zone-blocking scheme in college, the undrafted rookie from Alabama State has been able to read blocks at much higher level than the coaching staff anticipated. As soon as he sees a hole, he gets into it and makes sure he gets as much positive yardage as possible. Nearly every time he touches the football, Crowell is a threat to score.

Comparing NFL players has become an arbitrary exercise, but it's hard not to watch the Vine above and not evoke images of Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch. Crowell has miles to go to reach that type of status in professional football. He did lose a fumble on Sunday.

But as the weeks go on, the rookie is proving to be a skill player vital to Cleveland's success on offense. 

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