If there was one player for the Pittsburgh Steelers on either side of the ball who showed capable of consistently doing his job yesterday, then it had to be running back Le’Veon Bell, who still managed to accumulate over 100 yards from scrimmage in spite of the fact that he only got 16 touches over the course of the game, averaging 6.8 yards per touch between 10 carries and six receptions.
In fact, a strong argument could be made that the Steelers seriously erred in their game plan, or in their inability to alter their game plan, to feature Bell more throughout the game, since his efforts seemed to be the only moments in which the offense was consistently able to generate positive plays.
If we use the standard barometer for what constitutes a successful play—gaining 40 percent of the required yardage on first down, 60 percent on second down, and 100 percent on third and fourth down—then 10 of Bell’s 16 touches produced successful plays.
Technically, though, it could be 11, because Bell was also responsible for two of the Steelers’ 15 points, as he was the recipient of the two-point conversion pass attempt, which he caught, although that reception does not officially count in any of his statistics beyond points scored.
On the opening possession of the game, Bell got three straight carries, for four and six yards, and then for two yards, setting up a second and eight. A couple of drives later, he converted on third and one when he burst through a narrow crease for a 13-yard pickup, which was his longest carry of the day.
In the drive after Ben Roethlisberger was injured, the Steelers got Bell going again, starting off with a 12-yard dash, followed by a gain of eight after a false start penalty made it first and 15. He added a six-yard rush to make it third and one, but in spite of the fact that he had already converted in that situation previously, the offense chose instead to try to pass, and they nearly threw an interception instead.
This seemed to be the beginning of the Steelers moving away from Bell. He got two carries on the Steelers’ opening drive of the second half, both of which were stopped for gains of just one yard apiece, and after that, he seemed to be sparsely used, though he did have a seven-yard run on the next play wiped out by a holding penalty.
Roethlisberger did begin finding him late in the game as a receiver, connecting on passes of 10, 13, and then 18 yards on their first two drives of the fourth quarter. He added a four-yard reception in their final drive when the game was already in hand.
For a player with such elite talent and the body of work to back it up, it makes little sense that Bell got only 16 touches in the game, though a few plays were wiped out due to penalties. Especially when he was the only player offering consistent success.