With it being the middle of the offseason and all of us missing football I’ve decided to turn back the clock. I always find it fun to go back and look at some of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ star players’ first big games. So that’s what we are going to do, and why not start off with “Killer B” member Le’Veon Bell.
Breakout Player: RB Le’Veon Bell
Breakout Game: 2013 vs Packers (26 carries, 124 yards 1 TD)
Bell played a huge part in many of the good times that the mid-2010s Steelers brought us. He emerged as one of the best running backs in the NFL and one of the best-dual threat running backs in NFL history with his ability in the receiving game in addition to the rushing game.
Bell didn’t start out hot out of the gates, and it wasn’t until the end of his rookie season in 2013 that he had his first game where we all went “Oh, so he can be really good.” And like a great competitor, it came when he was playing against fellow rookie running back Eddie Lacy and the Green Bay Packers.
Looking back, it is silly to really think there was really a debate on who was/would be better between Bell and Lacy. Both picked in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft, Lacy outshined Bell in their rookie seasons winning Offensive Rookie of The Year and making AP Second Team All-Pro. By the time the Packers and Steelers met in Week 16 Lacy was considered the better player, but Bell was determined to show why he was picked earlier than Lacy.
In snowy Lambeau Field, the Steelers leaned on Bell all game as he saw his season high in attempts with 26. Bell made most of those 26 attempts count as he ran for 124 yards and a touchdown, which just so happened to win the game for Pittsburgh with under two minutes to go. He averaged an impressive 4.8 yards per carry that game as he consistently put the Steelers in good field position which helped them score 38 points, their most all season. Bell would also have what was maybe his first real big “heat check” moment when he hurdled a Packers player midway through the third quarter.
This game marked the first time he surpassed the 100 rushed yards, something he did 20 times in his career. It was also the first one in which he ever lost a fumble, something he did not do very often with only 10 fumbles in his career. Even with the fumble Bell did enough to help the Steelers score a huge 38-31 victory, which kept their slim playoff hopes alive going into Week 17.
While 2013 was not a very spectacular year for the Steelers, it showed the beginnings of what would be some very fun times on offense. Bell played a huge part in those great times, but for many Steelers fans, until that Packers game he was a disappointment. In 2014, Bell became a true NFL superstar and made the comparisons between him and Lacy look laughable. But until that Week 16 match up it would have been hard to argue that Bell was better.
Looking back at the 2013 game it was really weird. Matt Flynn started at quarterback in place of the injured Aaron Rodgers and threw a pick-six to cornerback Cortez Allen. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger showed off his wheels with a 13-yard rushing touchdown of his own. And Steelers punter Mat McBriar had the highest passer rating of the game (118.7) because he threw a 30-yard pass to tight end David Paulsen.
Overall, the 2013 Steelers-Packers game was weird, but it showed us Le’Veon Bell was a superstar in the making and someone Pittsburgh could lean on.