The storyline for this game was obvious by halftime. Le’Veon Bell. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ fourth-year running back just authored the best rushing game by a Steelers running back in the franchise’s history, and one of the best, not doubt, of all time. And he came tantalizingly close to yet another mark.
Bell posted a career-high 38 carries on the day, rushing for 236 yards, which was the most by any running back in Steelers history, passing Willie Parker, who once rushed for 223 yards in a game. On top of that, Bell also added four receptions for 62 yards, giving him 298 yards from scrimmage for the game. That total was the second-most in Steelers history, behind only a 306-yard game from his teammate, Antonio Brown.
And did I mention that he also rushed for three touchdowns on the ground? It was his first such game of his career, and the second time that he had three total touchdowns in a game. Bell was truly playing at a different level on the field today against a Bills defense that was, admittedly, without Kyle Williams, their best run defender.
Part of that credit has to go to B.J. Finney, the first-year offensive lineman who made his second start of the season in place of Ramon Foster. He played a very good game, outside of a couple of penalties, and was asked to pull to the right several times.
As much as the line deserves praise for their performance against the Bills’ front seven, however, Bell, as usual, was the sole author of much of his own success, combining a rare combination of patience, quickness, and power to at times seemingly walk through Buffalo’s defense for chunks at a time.
The Steelers have won their past four games now, and it should be no surprise that that coincides with some very impressive work on the ground, with nearly all of that work coming on Bell’s shoulders.
Over the span of the past four games, he has carried the ball 118 times for 620 yards, averaging 155 yards on the ground per game. On the season, he now has 1053 rushing yards, averaging 105.3 rushing yards per game, narrowing the margin between himself and Ezekiel Elliott.
On top of that, he has 67 receptions on the season for 563 yards, giving him 1616 total yards from scrimmage on the year. I’m not sure how things sort out currently, but he is probably close to now leading the league in that respect, which is made astoundingly impressive by the fact that he missed the first three games.
After his 298-yard day, Bell is now averaging 161.6 yards per game this season, and, more importantly, he has been getting the ball into the end zone over the span of the past five games. After failing to score in his first five games, he has now scored seven touchdowns—six on the ground, and one through the air—over the span of the last five games.