The Pittsburgh Steelers knew that it would be a tough slog going up against the New York Giants’ front four, but they also knew that they would have at their disposal the most talented running back in the league. On the day, it was the superior talent of the running back, Le’Veon Bell, that prevailed—although they did get some help.
The Giants took several blows to their defensive line over the course of the game. Starting left defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul left late in the first half with a groin injury. Both defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins and Damon Harrison missed time. And, not surprisingly, most of Bell’s success came in the second half.
But boy was he successful. In fact, nobody this season has been successful against this Giants front the way that he did today, and this is a unit that has been playing particularly well lately. Only one other running back this entire season has even gained a total of 100 yards from scrimmage.
Bell did that and more, gaining a total of 182 yards from scrimmage, and most of that came on the ground. He rushed for 118 yards on the ground, which was easily the most by a decent margin that any running back had been able to gain on the ground against the Giants’ front.
It did take him 29 carries, including some late carries trying to run out the clock, which resulted in him averaging just a hair over four yards per carry, but he was averaging fewer than three yards per carry entering the second half, so he saw substantial improvement in the third and fourth quarter.
Late in the fourth quarter, Bell had carries of 19 and 12 yards on back to back runs, which was by far the best two-play sequence on the ground that he was able to see over the course of the game. He did have several other successful runs as well, but that came in between several strong plays made by the defense.
Bell added six receptions for 64 yards through the air, including a 21-yard reception, which was one of his longest receptions of the season, and just his fourth explosive play in total on the year. He had just one rushing play of at least 20 yards on the year, which happened in his first game, but he has three receptions of at least 20 yards.
On the season, Bell now has over 800 yards on the ground, and over 500 yards through the air. He has 1318 total yards from scrimmage, which, over the course of the nine games in which he has played, comes out to over 146 yards per game. That would result in 2343 yards over a full season.
While he did not score for the first time in three games, he did rush for over 100 yards for the third consecutive game. That was the first such span of his career, and the first by any Steelers running back in about a decade.