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James Conner is inspirational leader Pittsburgh needs right now

By The Sports Xchange
James Conner is inspirational leader Pittsburgh needs right now
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) celebrates his 22 yard touchdown with Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) in the fourth quarter of the Steelers 33-18 win against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

The Pittsburgh Steelers won one for a grieving city on Sunday, and fittingly, it was James Conner who helped lead the way.

Conner had a career-high 146 yards rushing and two touchdowns to go with five receptions for 66 yards in a 33-18 home win against Cleveland. The former University of Pittsburgh star and a cancer survivor is just the type of inspirational leader the city needs right now after the mass shooting at a synagogue on Saturday.

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With All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell staying away from the Steelers (4-2-1), Conner is blossoming into a premier power back.

"He's doing what he's been doing the whole time," Steelers right guard David DeCastro said. "He's keeping his head down and running really hard. He's a fun guy to block for."

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On Sunday, Conner became the first Steeler to rush for at least 100 yards and two touchdowns in three straight games.

"I'm just doing what I love to do," Conner said. "Just trying to be in the right spots for (quarterback) Ben (Roethlisberger) with the check-downs in the passing game, and just trying to put the ball in the right spots in the right game."

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Conner ranks second in the NFL in touchdowns with nine and third in rushing yards with 599.

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"He did a lot of good things (against Cleveland), running the ball and catching the ball for us," Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said. "He just looks good all the way around and runs the ball hard. He takes it very seriously and his preparation is very good. I can't say enough about him."

--WR Antonio Brown finished with six catches for 74 yards on Sunday. He also had two touchdowns. Brown has caught a TD pass in five straight games.

--QB Ben Roethlisberger has connected on 67 career touchdowns with WR Antonio Brown, tying them with Peyton Manning and Reggie Wayne for the seventh most by a QB-WR tandem in league history. Roethlisberger was 24 of 36 for 257 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on Sunday.

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--CB Coty Sensabaugh left with a foot injury in the second half. His status will be updated later in the week.

--CB Artie Burns did not play a snap in the secondary on Sunday. The former first-round pick was late to a team activity last week, according to reports, and that combined with poor play this season led to the benching. Burns has made five starts this season.

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--LB T.J. Watt led the Steelers with seven tackles and two tackles for loss on Sunday. He also recorded his seventh sack of the season.

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