It has been a while since the Pittsburgh Steelers had the opportunity to send a running back to the Pro Bowl, but that changed this season in Le’Veon Bell’s second season. While he hasn’t had the greatest stretch as a runner over the course of the past two games, with defenses keying in on him, however, he has been able to continue to find the end zone, which is a trend that has been common over the last five games.
Like the Falcons the week prior, the Kansas City Chiefs made it a point of emphasis on Sunday to contain Bell after watching his tape, which is understandable, considering he has just come off a stretch of three games in which he put up over 200 total yards and a bundle of touchdowns. Any smart defensive coordinator would do the same.
Bell only gained 63 yards on the ground on 20 rushing attempts, and the reasons were that were numerous, with the main culprit tending to be breakdowns in the blocking scheme. He also added only one reception for nine yards. But he still drew attention and helped the offense move up and down the field against a solid defense.
Bell’s longest run of the game was just seven yards, and it came on the opening drive as the Steelers hit the 20-yard line. David DeCastro pulled left on the trap block, but only partially connected, leaving the back with the need to slip past the outside linebacker in the backfield. He did not only that, but also got around the center and nose tackle to find some space for seven yards, tackled in the secondary.
Bell only had one reception of the game, but he did manage to make the most of it for nine yards on a first down play. DeCastro again couldn’t quite get all the way out to his assignment, leaving Bell with the need to free himself immediately. He then set up Maurkice Pouncey’s block further down the field and spun around a tackle, churning his feet forward for a few extra yards.
The drive ended successfully in the end zone with a one-yard plunge from Bell for his eighth touchdown—seventh on the ground—over the span of the past five games. The Steelers went heavy, using Mike Adams as a third tight end in addition to a fullback. As DeCastro wrestled with the defensive lineman, Bell just buried his shoulder and plowed ahead for the score.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Bell matched his game-long run for seven yards as the Steelers tried to run out the clock, and it came on second and 10. There was nothing particularly special about the play, however, other than the patience that he showed anticipating the blocks and waiting for Ramon Foster to lock on further afield.