During the regular season, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell caught 75 passes for 616 yards in the 12 games that he played in. With that said, Bell has only caught four passes for 3 yards in the Steelers first two playoff games and on Wednesday he was asked if there’s any specific reason as to why his role in the passing game has decreased over the course of the last two weeks.
“I don’t think we had to,” Bell said. “I feel like we’ve been running the ball well so obviously if I’m getting the ball, I carried the ball 30 times last game, there’s no need to really throw it to me 6 more times for 36 touches. I think our coaches have been doing a good job of utilizing me in different situations. I feel like we’ve been leaning more on the run. I think when there are times when we lean more toward the pass, I may be more involved, but I think the coaches have been doing a good job of utilizing me.”
While Bell certainly has seen his role in the passing game decrease in the Steelers first two playoff games, he has averaged 29.5 carries per contest and rushed for an eye-popping 337 yards.
On Sunday in Foxboro, the Steelers will play the New England Patriots and it’s worth pointing out that Bell had a season-high 10 catches in the Week 7 game against them. Obviously, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t play in that game so it will be interesting to see if Bell is once again used heavily as a pass catcher on Sunday being as the offense will have Roethlisberger under center in the rematch.
While Bell had a ton of catches in that regular season game against the Patriots, he also had 21 carries for 81 yards and he was asked Wednesday what stood out about the New England run defense in that contest.
“They play really well up front,” Bell said. “Obviously, they pride themselves with stopping the run and I think it’s a little circumstance of us not getting enough totes. I think the last time we played them we weren’t as aggressive at running the ball as we are now so it should be an interesting game going against those guys again.”
During the regular season, the Patriots defense allowed opposing running backs to catch 102 passes and that was the second-most in the league behind the Atlanta Falcons so keep that in mind ahead of Sunday’s AFC Championship game.
For the Steelers to beat the Patriots on Sunday Bell will more than likely need 150 or more total yards from scrimmage. Sure, he had 149 total yards in the first meeting against the Patriots, but the Steelers, as previously noted, didn’t have Roethlisberger in that game in addition to being without the services of right tackle Marcus Gilbert as well.