Through the last four games, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has now rushed for over 130 yards three times, finishing up today’s contest with the Bengals with 134 yards on 35 carries. Like against the Ravens, it wasn’t the most efficient affair, actually only averaging 3.8 yards per carry, but the war of attrition won the day.
And he did it without a single run over 15 yards all game, which is pretty impressive. And it really wasn’t a play-to-play struggle. The real burden came in the fact that the Bengals were able to get behind the line of scrimmage several times throughout the game, tackling Bell for a loss five times for a total loss of nine.
Take out those five plays and Bell picked up 143 yards on 30 carries, a much healthier average of 4.8 yards. So whenever he wasn’t losing yardage, he was picking up healthy gains on a fairly steady basis, when you consider that little of his yardage came on breakaway runs.
Equally notable is that he also had a nice game through the air, catching three passes that went for 58 yards, which included a season-long play of 42 yards for him. this is important because the running back had been struggling quite a bit in recording efficient gains in the passing game, so this could be a key step in the right direction.
On the ground and through the air, the All-Pro combined for 192 yards of offense on the day on 38 touches. In doing so, he extended his franchise record for the most games of at least 150 yards from scrimmage, which he thrust from the grasp of Franco Harris just last week when he rushed for over 150 yards alone.
Bell entered the game third in the league with 550 rushing yards on 134 carries, but had just 156 receiving yards on 30 receptions. With today’s marks, he now has 684 rushing yards on 169 carries, averaging just over four yards per carry, and 214 receiving yards on 33 receptions, boosting his yards per catch up to 6.5 from just 5.2.
His 684 rushing yards is now second in the league behind Kansas City’s rookie running back, Kareem Hunt, who despite rushing for just 28 yards against the Steelers has picked up 717 yards on the ground in seven games, 33 more yards than Bell. Leonard Fournette, who was ahead of the Steelers back on the day, did not play this week due to injury.
As the weeks tick by, we seem to be seeing more and more of the Bell ‘magic’ that just makes you sit there and stare in awe of what he is capable of doing with either his legs, his hands, his vision, or his patience. It helps that the line is blocking better as well, but he is also clearly more in rhythm and in-tuned to the game as we approach mid-season.