April 14, 2015

Highlighted Year: Jerome Bettis, 1996

Running Back, Pittsburgh Steelers

Age:  24
4th season in pro football, 1st with Steelers
College: Notre Dame
Height: 5’11” Weight: 243

After gaining over a thousand all-purpose yards in his last college season, Bettis was taken by the Rams in the first round (10th overall) of the 1993 NFL draft. Head Coach Chuck Knox anticipated that the classic fullback would be the key to the team’s running game with his hard-running style and demonstrated ability to hold onto the football. Bettis had an immediate impact, rushing for 1429 yards and receiving first-team All-NFL and Pro Bowl recognition in addition to numerous Rookie of the Year honors. In 1994, Bettis tailed off badly during the second half of the season and, while he still gained 1025 rushing yards and was selected to the Pro Bowl (and also caught a career-high 31 passes), averaged just 3.2 yards per carry. After running for only 637 yards behind a poor line following the shift of the Rams to St. Louis in ’95, Bettis was traded to the Steelers. “The Bus” rejuvenated his career in Pittsburgh, where his power-running style was a perfect fit.

1996 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 320 [6]
Most attempts, game – 29 (for 115 yds.) vs. Houston 9/29
Yards – 1431 [3]
Most yards, game – 133 yards (on 20 carries) vs. Buffalo 9/16
Average gain – 4.5 [7]
TDs – 11 [6, tied with Barry Sanders & Karim Abdul-Jabbar]
100-yard rushing games – 10

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 22      
Most receptions, game – 5 (for 40 yds.) at Kansas City 10/7
Yards – 122
Most yards, game – 40 (on 5 catches) at Kansas City 10/7
Average gain – 5.5
TDs – 0

TDs – 11 [9, tied with four others]
Points – 66

Postseason: 2 G
Rushing attempts – 38
Most rushing attempts, game – 25 vs. Indianapolis, AFC Wild Card playoff
Rushing yards – 145
Most rushing yards, game – 102 vs. Indianapolis, AFC Wild Card playoff
Average gain rushing – 3.8
Rushing TDs – 2

Pass receptions – 3
Most pass receptions, game – 2 at New England, AFC Divisional playoff
Pass receiving yards – 3
Most pass receiving yards, game – 4 vs. Indianapolis, AFC Wild Card playoff
Average yards per reception – 1.0
Pass Receiving TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
1st-team All-NFL: AP
1st-team All-AFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly
Pro Bowl

Steelers went 10-6 to finish first in the AFC Central while ranking second in the NFL in rushing (2299 yards). Won AFC Wild Card playoff over Indianapolis Colts (42-14). Lost AFC Divisional playoff to New England Patriots (28-3).

The 1996 season was the first of six straight 1000-yard performances for Bettis. He reached his career high in rushing with 1665 yards in 1997, again being selected to the Pro Bowl and garnering first-team All-AFC honors from Pro Football Weekly. Bettis received Pro Bowl honors for the last time at age 32 in 2004, when he rushed for a career-high 13 touchdowns, and capped his career in ’05 in a backup role on a team that won the Super Bowl. Overall, he played a total of 13 years, the last 10 with the Steelers, and rushed for 13,662 yards, which ranked fifth all-time, and scored a total of 94 touchdowns (91 rushing, 3 receiving). “The Bus” was selected to the Pro Bowl six times and gained election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2015.


Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970