Since joining the Cincinnati Bengals following the sixth round of the 2009 NFL draft, the label attached to running back Bernard Scott has always been one of "durability." Words like explosive and elusive are nothing compared to the durability perception that's followed Scott like a little duckling following mother. When there was a belief that Scott could one day become the team's feature back, that belief was planted into reality when Scott covered for an injured Cedric Benson during the 2009 season. And Scott produced, posting 206 yards rushing on 39 carries in consecutive games. Unfortunately Scott missed three straight afterwards due to an injury, only reinforcing that "durability" label.
That being said, we're not exactly sure how warranted the label is anymore. Since returning during Cincinnati's week 16 win over the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009, Scott has played every game since -- a streak of 28 straight, including Cincinnati's wild card loss to the New York Jets.
Unfortunately Scott's sporadic playing time this season hasn't offered the running back an opportunity to find his rhythm; somewhat critical for a running back to really produce. Heading into Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Scott's 3.2 yard/rush average was significantly lower than his career 4.6 yard/rush average before the 2011 season. In fact his career average dropped 0.4 yards/rush due to the season he's having this year.
But it's improving.
During a three-game stretch since his first start this year against the Seattle Seahawks, Scott posted 138 yards rushing on 35 carries for a 3.9 yards/rush average. And during his final two games against the Titans and Steelers, Scott is averaging a more Scott-like 4.8 yards per carry.
The team's backup running back came into the game during Cincinnati's third possession, following consecutive three and out possessions. With 1:41 remaining in the first quarter, Scott takes the handoff out of shotgun and sheds off a James Harrison tackle. The running back finds a lane developing between Bobbie Williams and Andre Smith, with A.J. Green neutralizing cornerback Ike Taylor, exploding through, while shedding a Ryan Clark attempted tackle, for an 11-yard gain. Two plays later Andy Dalton connected with wide receiver A.J. Green on a 36-yard touchdown reception (that you've probably seen already).
Unfortunately Scott wouldn't get another chance to run the football until 10:38 remained in the fourth quarter.
With 10:38 remaining in the game and a seven-point deficit, Scott followed the blocks of Andre Smith, Bobbie Williams and the right side of the offensive line when a cutback lane developed between Nate Livings and Andrew Whitworth. Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel was the first defensive player to hit Scott, who had already picked up seven yards on the play, picking up two more on the tackle. Scott picked up the first down on a cutback behind Kyle Cook that gave the running back six yards.
At one point in the fourth quarter, Scott was the team's leading rusher until late in the game when Benson found his rhythm. Both running backs combined to record 44 yards rushing on six carries during the game's final quarter.
Scott's 38 yards rushing against the Steelers gave the running back a season-high 5.4 yard/rush average against one of the better defenses in the NFL.