When you finish a game with your name being mentioned in the same sentence as Walter Payton, that is typically a key indicator that you had a good day. That was certainly the case for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, during which he piled up over 200 totals yards and capped it off with the first three-touchdown game of his career.
Bell has, of course, found tremendous success over the course of the past three games, gaining over 700 yards and scoring five touchdowns. The offense more than ever has begun to run through him, both on the ground and in the air. With his vision, patience, and burst, it would be foolish not to exploit that.
Take this nine-yard run late in the first half. On the play, the scheme left the backside unblocked, but when the Bengals were able to fill the designed gap, Bell was able to spin around the grasp of the defensive end and dart up the weak side for a substantial gain, considering he eluded a tackle in the backfield.
As mentioned, of course, he does it both on the ground and in the air, and he showed it 10 minutes into the second half with this inside move that froze linebacker Emmanuel Lamur. He manipulated the defender with a look to the inside and a sharp cut in front of him that caught him flat-footed, and from there it was an easy gallop into the end zone.
Right after the Bengals had retaken the lead on an 81-yard touchdown, Bell broke off the second-longest run of his career to put the Steelers in field goal range on the first play of the ensuing drive.
The Steelers pulled David DeCastro to the left with Matt Spaeth down blocking inside. Several others threw key blocks to get Bell into open space as he raced down the field, finally dragged down at the 27-yard line by Lamur.
While that drive ended in a field goal, however, he made sure to finish off two of the Steelers’ next three drives with a trip into the end zone for what was just the third time in his career scoring multiple touchdowns in a game.
The Steelers had first and goal just outside the 10-yard line when they went back to their bread and butter running play as Bell followed his blocks from DeCastro and the tight ends to plow his way into the end zone, getting a shoulder into one linebacker and stretching the ball across the goal line with a defensive back around his ankles.
With about five minutes left in the game, Bell put the game to bed with his third touchdown of the day, a 22-yard run up the left side. There were no surprises this time on the pull left on this occasion. The Bengals simply got tired of seeing it and Bell showed off his quickness once he hit the edge.