As they faced adversity, the Pittsburgh Steelers relied heavily upon their core superstars on offense, the Killer Bs: quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and running back Le’Veon Bell. None were more impactful than the latter, as he had nearly 200 yards from scrimmage on another big game on Monday Night Football.
Speaking of Monday Night Football, no player in NFL history has been more successful moving the ball on this primetime slot. He came into the game averaging 164.7 yards per game in his first three games. Last night, he had over 180 yards. Priest Holmes averaged 130.3 per game on Monday Night, the second-most among those with at least three appearances.
With his 76 rushing yards on the night, Bell became the first running back this season to reach 1000 yards on the ground, now standing at 1057 on the season. He has recorded at least 1000 rushing yards in consecutive seasons now, the first Steeler to do that since Rashard Mendenhall in 2009 and 2011, and it was his third time doing so in four seasons.
It was also just the fifth game of the season in which he was able to average at least four yards per rush, picking up his 76 yards on 18 carries. He caught just five passes, but took them for 106 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown, his first receiving score of the year, for 182 total yards.
Bell now has 5102 rushing yards and 2507 receiving yards in his career. Eclipsing the 7500-yard mark, he matched Hall of Fame great Eric Dickerson in reaching that plateau in the 59th game of his career. One wonders where he could be at this point minus the injuries and the suspensions that have robbed him of more than a season’s worth of games.
Much of this season, not just for Bell, but for the Steelers, has been a war of attrition, but I think the fact that he leads the league in rushing and yet is averaging only 3.9 yards per carry is perhaps the exemplifying mark. It means that they are getting the job done, but have had to earn it all the way.
And stats won’t matter when you get to the postseason, anyway. Only results do. Points do. Wins do. And literally nobody has been better at winning games this season. Not one team has more wins or fewer losses than the Steelers do this year. 10-2. And they’ve beaten one of the other teams that are 10-2.
In spite of how many runs this season have been like trying to wring blood from a stone for Bell, the All-Pro has increasingly shown those flashes of his greatness, especially over the course of the past couple of games, limiting negative plays and keeping his success rate up.
Adding big plays—a 33-yard screen to set up a field goal at the end of the first half, adding a 35-yard score in the second, converting on fourth and one—it’s hard to deny the impact of the All-Pro.