By Matthew Marczi
Running back Le’Veon Bell finished off his rookie season surpassing Franco Harris’ rookie record for yards from scrimmage in the season finale against the Cleveland Browns. He did so with another impressive rushing performance, coming off his first career 100-yard rushing game the week before.
As has been the case for much of his first season, Bell’s most impressive trait during this game was the patience that he displayed in waiting for the play develop before trying to make something happen.
That was particularly relevant on this play, considering he had to wait for Ramon Foster to come over and pull, and Foster isn’t the most elegant of the offensive linemen.
Still, Foster’s block was key in producing this 15-yard run, as was the work of Marcus Gilbert. Bell’s vision to work through the secondary, dodging tacklers down the field for extra yardage, was also impressive.
Another example of Bell’s impressive patience with the ball in his hands came a few plays later on the same drive in the second quarter. Center Cody Wallace blocked D’Qwell Jackson, but then lost him, decreasing Bell’s gap. Safety T.J. Ward came up to fill the gap, but Bell made an impressive play to get past him, lowering his shoulder and spinning out of the contact to turn it into a five-yard gain.
At long last, Bell was able to cap the drive with a rushing touchdown, his eighth of the season, on a drive on which he accounted for 47 yards. It was once again an impressive play, especially considering Gilbert seemed to be confused on the play, allowing Billy Winn by him and forcing Bell to dodge him three yards in the backfield.
After spinning out of Winn’s grip, Bell would not be denied as he bowled his way into a pile of Browns defenders standing between him and the goal line. He lowered his shoulder, turned his back, and churned his way into the end zone for the score.
This fourth quarter carry is another impressive one, in that it shows something about Bell’s instincts. He saw that David DeCastro was struggling with Ahtyba Rubin, so he tried to cut it inside rather than following Foster’s pull. When Rubin adjusted, Bell was able to counter by spinning off contact around DeCastro to get upfield in approximately his original target lane for another gain of five.