JuJu Smith-Schuster stepped up big for the Steelers in the 20-15 win over the Lions on Sunday night, and his standout performance earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors. He is the first Steelers' rookie to earn the honor since Ben Roethlisberger did so in 2004.
"I think it's special to win this," said Smith-Schuster. "It's tough. At the end of the day I have to give it up to the guys, the offensive line, Ben moving the ball around. I really do appreciate it. It's a blessing.
"I think that is one thing as a rookie, you want the quarterback to trust you, you want everybody else to trust you, especially because you are the young guy." Smith-Schuster had seven receptions for 193 yards, including a 97-yard touchdown reception from Roethlisberger, where he caught the ball short and took off running.
"JuJu just got separation," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "They were in two-deep man under, which is often a call in that down and distance. He did a nice job in creating separation and making the throw easy for Ben (Roethlisberger) and then the rest just, academic."
The 97-yard touchdown is the longest pass play in Steelers' history, and is tied with the longest offensive play in team history, a 97-yard run by Bobby Gage in 1948.
"On that play, you see two high safeties, middle field open, you take it," said Smith-Schuster. "As soon as I caught it I burst, I started picking up my legs. And once I got past the first safety, missed him, and then the second guy went for my ankles. He couldn't get me down and I was like, 'Man I got this.' And I scored, and like I said, without those guys, the front line, without them, I wouldn't be here today."
Smith-Schuster set a single game career high with his 193 yards receiving, and also are the second-most single game receiving yards by a rookie in team history (Jimmy Orr – 205 – 1958).
"He is a big-time player, great performance," said Antonio Brown. "The man stepped up big. He made a huge play down the middle, 97 yards. One of the biggest plays in history. First game starting, I'm really happy for him. Hard-working kid, he comes to work every day and it's great to see him have a big game."
Smith-Schuster, who at just 20-years old, brings an infectious enthusiasm to the field and locker room, something that rubs off on his teammates.
"He's an affectionate person," said Brown. "He brings a lot of momentum, a lot of great energy, always fun to be around no matter the day, no matter the time. He's one of those guys, if you're having a bad day or you're having a down moment, you definitely want to be around him."