TNT Backfield Of Toussaint And Todman Explode Onto National Radar

You may forgive me if I admit to not knowing a great deal about Fitzgerald Toussaint prior to last week. He is a second-year former undrafted free agent who was only signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ practice squad after the preseason was over. Heading into the Week 17 game that resulted in DeAngelo Williams’ injury, he had just six carries in four games with the Steelers.

I didn’t know what to expect from Toussaint in a starting role, but after I reviewed the season finale against the Browns, I came away feeling much better than his 12-carry, 24-yard effort suggested. And he vindicated my confidence and then some with his, and Jordan Todman’s, gritty performance against the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense.

With the Steelers offense down both Williams and, of course, Le’Veon Bell, they were tasked with relying upon two young running backs without much experience who were not even with the team in the preseason, and they merely turned in a 28 carry, 123-yard effort, adding four receptions for 60 yards, while at first blush appearing to block well in pass protection to boot.

The anointed ‘TNT’ backfield of Toussaint and Todman gave the Steelers the comfort to run the offense as they had all season, having the confidence in their unheralded runners to be accountable and to perform their basic duties while turning in a quality performance, and that is exactly what they were able to get.

Much unlike the 2014 postseason appearance that featured the services of Ben Tate, Josh Harris, and Dri Archer, none of whom are currently on a roster, the Steelers got out of Toussaint and Todman exactly what they needed and more.

Toussaint in particular was impressive in his receiving ability, catching the aforementioned four passes for 60 yards, including an early 27-yard catch and run, not to mention a spectacular mid-route adjustment to catch a third-down check down from Ben Roethlisberger on the game-winning drive to secure the first down.

Toussaint got a lot of the hard carries, but Todman was equally, if not more impressive as a runner, actually leading the two backs with 65 yards on 11 carries, several of which displayed not only impressive burst, but also surprising elusiveness with cutback runs and inside jump cuts.

Perhaps Toussaint and Todman are not quite the dynamic duo of Bell and Williams, who combined had a phenomenal season that included 14 rushing touchdowns and plenty of yards, but the Steelers were without a doubt well-served by these two players deep in the depth chart, who have vied for backup reps late in the season.

Toussaint spent the first 10 games of the season on the practice squad before being promoted during the team’s bye week, replacing Isaiah Pead, who was signed after Bell’s injury. He spent his first game on the roster on the inactive list, but a game later, he swapped places with Todman, who was inactive the last five games.

With nobody in front of them, however, both under the radar backs were given the spotlight to showcase what they can do, stepping up in the postseason to help the Steelers advance for the first time in five seasons.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Phil Brenneman II

    I have to eat my words on Fitzgerald. Not that I thought he was bad, but I expected very little from him and he shut me up big time. To my credit though, I have been calling for Todman and he was also really good. We can’t find corners but we have offensive players like you wouldn’t believe. 4 RB’s all running like they could be starters. Unreal.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Todman is good and has been fine even last year with the Jags. Toussaunt is the big surprise. When I heard about the weather I was thinking they absolutely had to try to get a running game going. As they did against Cincy in one of the games in 2014.

    Credit to Haley for implementing this plan, having the coincidence in the linemen and backs and Ben doing what he does.

  • NCSteel

    I expected them to be serviceable, they were great instead.
    I wonder if DWill is gonna be ready for next week.
    If not, I feel pretty darn confident in our backfield anyway.
    Great job this year Steeler RB’s. You’ve been just what the doctor ordered. Congrats and thanks !

  • William Weaver

    I kept thinking the whole game, “Le’veon Bell would be killing these fools!!!!”

  • William Weaver

    Todman looked really fast

  • HAL WRIGHT

    Ive been saying this since Bell was lost for the season. Todman should have been rotating with D-Will. Todman is the fastest RB on the team. I would like to see him in opened space more on 3rd down,he makes people miss in one on one matchups. Dump the ball off to him sometimes. He runs a 4.4 40 yard dash. Im not surprised by Todman,Im more suprised that it took the whole season to give him 11 rushes in one game after Bell went down. He is a endzone to endzone runner! Todman has Quick feet and better lateral movement off the edge of the line!

  • Todd that dude!

    We are on to something here, both looked good. Getting D Will back is the cherry on top.

  • 804Stiller

    Dang, Todman’s running style is similar to Fast Willie and Toussaint looked like Redman….lol. Throwback!

  • michael young

    And those jump cuts were nasty. He was joystick quick out there.

  • Back2the50th

    *confidence

  • Back2the50th

    Agreed. If I can nitpick on the Steelers coaching mentality is that they tend to be too conservative. They need to give the young guys a chance to prove themselves. Don’t wait till injuries occur to see them excel. Let’s hope AB and Big Ben are fine by the Denver game. If not, let’s call up Coates and make sure Landry gets enough starter reps just in case.

  • Moneypenny76

    Luckily there is absolutely no need to draft a RB. We seem to be set there for the next few years as long as we resign Bell. We need every pick we can get for the secondary.

  • steeltown

    We have Fitz signed through next year, but I think we should re-sign Todman to a 2-3yr modest deal. DWilliams will most certainly not be around past 2016 and Todman could be that #2/3

  • Jeff Anoble

    ZERO Fumbles on a really wet night. Great job.

  • Matt Manzo

    Yeah! I can’t wait for Bell to truck through Burfict, next year!

  • Matt Manzo

    Oline blocked great, too! I was so surprised to see our 3rd and 4th string RBs be so productive! Go Team!

  • Shane Mitchell

    Toussaint isnt as explosive as Todman but he picks up blitzes really well and slips out of the backfield nicely as a safety valve for Ben, displays very good ball security when he runs. I can see why the coaches like him so much, does exactly what is needed to win. Does a lot of things well that dont show up on the stat line.

  • jsteeler

    We need 2 more DL/DE Tuitt and Hayward are playing too much. We need a rotation. A OLB because Deebo may have 1 year left and Chickillo is a Special teamer. 1 CB, still have Senquez 1 safety. Golden plays good and Allen is getting slower.

  • jsteeler

    I think when you have a Bell cow such as Bell or Williams you give them the rock and let them get into a rhythm. Then, If you are up a couple of scores let the 3rd and 4th stringers run with the Big Dogs. This has worked out just fine. Not only can they share time but, they can stay fresh and keep those fast legs rested! I think Haley and tomlin know exactly what they are doing!

  • joed32

    They really did!

  • k33ger

    although todman did fumble one out of bounds on one of his long runs. I could see why they used Toussaint more, he covers that ball up!