Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell rushed for 185 yards and caught another six passes for 50 yards to give him 235 yards from scrimmage yesterday against the Cincinnati Bengals. That gives him three consecutive games of at least 200 yards from scrimmage, making him only the second player in NFL history to do so, behind Walter Payton.
For that, most certainly, he should be commended, without question. But what is of greater interest to me is the fact that he put the ball in the end zone three times in this game.
In fact, Bell has scored five touchdowns over the course of the past three games. He had only three touchdowns—one rushing, in the season opener, and two receiving—in the Steelers’ first 10 games of the year.
Impressive statistics are great and all, but at the end of the day, the best statistics in the world won’t put points of the board and win you games. That he has 1924 total yards, averaging exactly 148 yards from scrimmage per game, is impressive, but it was without question an oddity to see Bell find so much success without actually crossing the goal line with the desired frequency.
Last season, Bell finished his truncated rookie season with eight touchdowns, all of the rushing variety. Through 13 games this season, thanks to his first career three-touchdown performance, and five touchdowns over the last three games, he’s now matched that total, and has three more games to try to crack double digits.
The last time a Steelers running back reached double-digit touchdowns in any combination was in 2010, when Rashard Mendenhall rushed for 13 touchdowns. No Steelers running back has caught three or more receiving touchdowns since Willie Parker did the same in 2006. Sidney Thornton set the club record with four in 1979.
Since Bell is set on breaking a number of franchise records—including the total yards from scrimmage in a season record, which he is 111 yards away from breaking—perhaps the record he should be targeting is the scoring record for position players.
In the previously mentioned 2006 season, during which Parker caught three receiving scores, he also rushed for 13 on the ground. His 16 touchdowns, and 96 total points, are the most by a skill position player in a single season in team history.
Bell has 13 rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns (16 in total) in 26 career games. The rest of his game certainly appears to be in top form. If he could start putting the ball into the end zone with greater frequency—as he has, in recent games—there would be little argument as to who is the best running back in football.