Steelers notebook: Bell impresses in debut
On any other day, Le'Veon Bell's impressive performance in his first NFL game — 57 yards, two touchdowns and a flip into the end zone to finish off the first score — would have generated headline news in Pittsburgh.
But not when the Steelers lost to fall to 0-4.
“I did a couple of things, but there are a lot more things I can work at and can better. I can only improve and get better and work at my craft,” said Bell, who missed three games with mid-foot sprain.
His foot was checked briefly during the third quarter — “I tweaked it a little bit,” he said — but he said afterward he felt fine. He is the first Steelers rookie running back to run for two touchdowns in a game since Bam Morris in 1994.
Left guard Ramon Foster injured a pectoral muscle in the first half and was replaced by Kelvin Beachum. Ben Roethlisberger struck his throwing hand against a Vikings player's hand, hurting his index finger, but didn't miss any playing time. He was checked over following the game. Inside linebacker Kion Wilson injured a hamstring — coach Mike Tomlin did not say how seriously — and receiver Markus Wheaton broke a pinkie finger, although he stayed in the game. The injured players have two weeks to heal since the Steelers don't play again until Oct. 13 at the Jets.
Jet lag an issue?
The Steelers didn't arrive until Friday, three days after the Vikings, and LaMarr Woodley said he wished they came sooner. At 1 a.m. Sunday London time, or 17 hours before kickoff, Bell posted a social media video complaining of not being able to sleep. But none of the Steelers would blame jet lag or sleep issues with them falling behind 10-0; Antonio Brown said players were given intravenous fluids to keep them hydrated. “I don't think it was an issue,” Troy Polamalu said. “It wasn't for me.”
Vikings defensive star Jared Allen manhandled left tackle Mike Adams numerous times while getting 2 1⁄2 sacks. But coach Mike Tomlin didn't pull Adams, partly because Beachum already was in for the injured Foster. “It doesn't matter if you come out and make some bad plays, you've got to get yourself out of the tank,” said Adams, a second-round draft pick in 2012. “Obviously, I've got to do a better job and I'll work to get better every day.”
The Steelers players were more than impressed with London's massive Wembley Stadium and a remarkably enthused crowd that arrived four to five hours ahead of the kickoff. Many Steelers said they were glad they made the trip, and regret only that they didn't win. “Fan-support wise, (the) fun level, (the) great city, it's an A-plus,” safety Ryan Clark said. According to Antonio Brown, “It's an amazing stadium.”
Jerricho Cotchery was the Steelers' leading receiver with five catches (on six targets) for 103 yards, including a clutch 36-yard catch on the final drive. It was his first 100-yard game in four years, or since he had eight catches for 108 yards for the Jets against Tennessee on Sept. 27, 2009.
Need to score early
The Steelers now have 11 turnovers and no takeaways, a minus-11 rating that more than explains their 0-4 record. As Heath Miller said, the Steelers' primary failing has been constantly falling behind. “It's hard for our defense to create turnovers, havoc when they (opponents) are handing the ball off with a two-score lead,” Miller said.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
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