2012 NFL Stats – Team Explosive Plays Produced By Running Backs & Fullbacks

During the regular season, I write quite a bit about explosive plays of 20 yards or more as it relates to teams winning and losing games, but I have wanted to look at big plays produced by all of the teams running backs and fullbacks for some time now.

The stats below reflect plays produced by running backs and fullbacks by team in 2012 that went for 10 yards or more and these are also broken down by rushes and receptions. These should by no means be considered official, but they should be very, very close.

As you can see, the New England Patriots were tops in the league last season with 85 total plays from their running backs and fullbacks that went for 10 yards or more. A close second were the Minnesota Vikings with 81 such plays. It should be noted, however, that Vikings running back Adrian Peterson had a stunning 61 rushes last season that went for 10 yards or more. To really show how amazing that number is, he carried the ball a total of 348 times during the regular season which means that ever 5.71 times that he carried the football, he gained 10 or more yards. Let\’s also not forget that he suffered a serious knee injury late in the 2011 season in addition.

As far as the Pittsburgh Steelers went in 2012, they had a total of 65 plays that went for 10 yards or more from either running backs or fullbacks. Running back Isaac Redman led the team with 10 receptions of 10 yards or more while running back Jonathan Dwyer led the team with 21 rushes for 10 yards or more. A pleasant surprise last year for the Steelers was fullback Will Johnson, who chipped in 5 receptions of 10 yards or more.

Although the Steelers ranked around the middle of the league as far as total plays went, their average of 15.4 yards per explosive play was near the bottom of the league.

So what do we have to look forward to in 2013 for the Steelers. As I pointed out in a recent post about rookie running back Le\’Veon Bell, in 2012 at Michigan State he had 34 runs that went for 10 yards or more. While I don\’t yet have the number of receptions that he had that went for 10 yards or more, I do know that he had one that went for 15 yards or more of the 32 passes that he caught in 2012.

In case you are curious, in 2011 the Steelers had 43 runs by either a running back or fullback that went for 10 yards or more, but only 10 receptions from those positions that went for 10 yards or more and running back Rashard Mendenhall was responsible for 25 of those 53 explosive plays.

Of course down, distance, field position and score of the game plays a big role in these stats, but hopefully with Bell now in the fold, the Steelers can improve their production in this area of their offense.

Stats below should be sortable by clicking on a column header.


  • steeltown

    Actually to be honest, those are not bad stats for the Steelers players.. Redman and W.Johnson did not have many receptions overall, the percentage of plays resulting in first downs is pretty good for the low amount of chances…
    W.Johnson had 8FD’s on 15rec. and Redman had 10FD’s on 19rec.

  • disqus_wdLdx4W76r

    I thought explosive was 20+ yards

  • SteelersDepot

    Did you not read the first few paragraphs? For this exercise we are considering plays of running backs of 10 yards or more to be explosive.

  • Michael Mazanowski

    The Steelers weren’t as bad as I thought….65 plays of 10 + by RBs, etc.! The 15.4 yrd ave per explosive play could improve this year…enter Bell! The Bell has rung!

    With him the Steelers will ave…get this…18 yrds per explosive play in 2013 and over 75 plays of 10 + by RBs, etc. this year! Then they will have a big man dingo party at the end of the season!

  • Tom

    I am kind of surprised that the Steelers ranked as high as they did.

  • SteelersDepot

    to be honest, so was I.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    And redman actually had a 100+ receiving yards in a game. The problem is skillset placements per plays. We expect every player to perform just as adequately every play, we can’t do that. Redskins, seahawks, and 49ers all perform well mainly due to skillset placement per play, every play is FOR one player. A strictly player X, Y, and then Z for passing downs, we don’t have a #1 WR or RB and that hurted us a lot last year.

    BTW I think that’s the reason for change of offensive blocking scheme to play up toward this strength. We no longer can rely on “intangibles” of big ben and the “explosiveness” of mike wallace and mendenhall that give us big yardage with much less ratio of 1st down completitions. Last year Haley tried to mix it up with both; we underperformed. Now I see Haley going strictly based on limited yardage but for a better ratio of completitions.

    That’s why we got Le’Veon Bell and Markus Wheaton, both aren’t big-time playmakers but both get you 1st downs consistently.

  • Mike Popovich

    Which is why I think it was mistake to pass on Arthur Brown in the 2nd round. Since Dwyer had about 1/2 of the NFL average of carries in a season, he was on pace to hit 40+ explosive plays according to this chart. He deserved a full season to show us what he had.

    Not to mention, there still is no depth or development players behind Larry Foote at ILB, and will likely take another 2 years before one is ready given the development history of 1st-rounders.

  • steeltown

    Well thought out

  • SteelSpine

    Good topic & research. It puts numbers to the general observation about Patriots there’s been for the past ~5 years: Patriots got by at RB without having big star names at RB. They’ve used later draft picks, obtained other team’s throwaway RBs, Pats’ top RBs get hurt yet Pats still got by with whichever of their 3rd-stringer RBs for fine yards-per-carry. So how do Pats do it, & there’s many reasons but one of them is you must respect Pats’ passing game. If you play to stop Patriots run insteada play nickel defense against them all game, Brady & Welker & their TEs were going to take advantage.

    The topic is important to Steelers because we do not now have a breakaway back. Yeah Dwyer ripped one once in a while, & in college Bell had enough speed compared to college defenses. But anyone who thinks Dwyer is a breakaway back has not looked at other teams in NFL. Steelers offense can get by other ways, including screen passes which used to be a Steelers staple for big yards. And regardless, I foresee our defense carrying our offense this year.