Sunday was the first time in nearly two years that the Pittsburgh Steelers would see Le’Veon Bell. The last time the two parties shared a football field, Bell was actually a member of the Steelers. That was January 2018 and a lot has changed since then. Now a member of the New York Jets, the former Steelers’ running back was looking for a revenge game of sorts this Sunday. He may not have gotten one in the stat sheet but Bell’s efforts did help push his new team to victory.
While his numbers may not make anyone’s jaw drop, the former Pro Bowl back did get the most important upper hand over the Steelers. Bell rushed for 72-yards on 25 carries while also adding 21 receiving yards on four catches but his team left with a win and Bell played a significant part in that.
Bell’s 72-yards rushing were the second most rushing yards he has put up in a game this season and while he only averaged 2.9-yards per carry, this figure would have looked sustainably better had he not decided to run around the formation for a loss of 11 on one carry.
Unlike another former Steeler, Bell did not receive a Gatorade bath after the victory like Jets’ offensive assistant and former Steelers’ receiver Hines Ward. While neither would admit to bad blood, there was likely a competitive desire to come out on top against their former clubs. The Jets’ running back not only did his part as he put up 93-yards from scrimmage but he also watched the Steelers’ struggle to move the ball through the trenches.
Throughout his tenure in Pittsburgh, the Steelers could always count on Bell’s consistent production. No matter the circumstance, the now 27-year old back would find a way to produce and that is proven in the record books where Bell holds the Steelers’ franchise record for most rushing yards per game as he averaged 86.3 rushing yards per game from 2013-2017.
The Steelers put up just 75 rushing yards Sunday. Bell put up 72 himself. Making matters even worse, James Conner, the running back that electrified in Bell’s absence last season was unable to finish the game. Conner lasted just six carries before a thigh injury knocked him out of the game.
Now while the past is the past and there is no point debating on the decisions both Bell and the Steelers made, revenge has always been a dish served cold. And it must have been a very pleasing sight for Bell as he was able to play a foil in his former team playoff chances while also watching them struggle to do a job he was notoriously known for during his time there.