When the Pittsburgh Steelers take the field on Sunday, running back Le’Veon Bell has the opportunity to accomplish a feat that only one other player in the history of the franchise has before. He could become only the second player in franchise history to record at least 2000 yards from scrimmage in a single season.
The only player to do that was Barry Foster during the 1992 season, when he piled up 2034 yards. In 13 games, Bell’s 1924 yards is already the second-most in franchise history, and significantly more than the 1775 yards accumulated by Jerome Bettis in 1997. Willie Parker’s 1716 yards in 2006 ranks fourth in franchise history.
In fact, the odds would favor that Bell not only surpasses the 2000-yard mark, but also becomes the franchise’s all-time leader in yards from scrimmage in a season. At 1924 yards, Bell has averaged 148 yards per game.
He is only 111 yards from surpassing Foster’s mark, and that is without even factoring in the second-year back’s tremendous success in recent weeks, as he became just the second player in the history of the league to gain at least 200 yards from scrimmage in three consecutive games. He has the opportunity to become the first player in history to string together four such games.
As it stands, Bell’s 1924 yards is already the 80th-most yards a player has ever gained in a single season for as long as such data has been tracked, and he has three more games to add on to that total. The fact that he can do so seemingly equally well on the ground and in the air favors the idea that he will finish this season in some lofty territory.
Should he keep up the 148 yards per game pace, for example, Bell will finish the season with 2368 yards from scrimmage. That would rank fifth all time, behind only Chris Johnson’s 2509, Marshall Faulk’s 2429, Tiki Barber’s 2390, and LaDainian Tomlinson’s 2370.
Of course, Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray’s the league’s current leader in yards from scrimmage, is on a slightly higher pace, which could put him behind only Johnson’s total, as he is projected to finish the year with 2459 yards.
Naturally, it’s rare for players to maintain their pace, although it’s worth pointing out that Bell’s pace has actually accelerated in recent weeks, which coincided with him getting more touches as a result of the dismissal of the Steelers’ backup running back.
But he needs just 76 yards to reach 2000, and in only four of his 26 career games has he totaled less than that. The odds are certainly in favor of Bell making history on Sunday night, at least as far as the franchise is concerned.