ShareThis Page

Steelers running game becomes clear as a Bell

| Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, 10:24 p.m.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell carries through the Ravens defense during the third quarter Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell runs past the Ravens' Matt Elam in the third quarter Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers center Fenando Velasco snaps to running back Le'Veon Bell in the first quarter against the Ravens on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, at Heinz Field.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell stretches for extra yardage past the Ravens' Lardarius Webb in the first quarter Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, at Heinz Field.
Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell runs the wildcat during the first quarter against the Ravens on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, at Heinz Field.

If there is anything you can say about Le'Veon Bell after his first three games in the NFL, it's that he can grade himself pretty hard.

A week after giving his performance against the New York Jets a “D”, the Steelers rookie running back was a more forgiving following a 19-16 win over Baltimore at Heinz Field.

But not that much.

“I'll go to a C-,” Bell said with a laugh.

Bell must grade on a curve because his performance against the Ravens' top 10 run defense was top of the class.

Bell rushed for a career-high 93 yards on 19 carries, and the Steelers went over 100 yards rushing as a team for the first time since November — a span of 11 games.

Much of that had to do with Bell.

“Any questions about Le'Veon Bell today? No?” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin snarked during his postgame news conference.

Bell, who sat out the first three games with a foot injury, came under criticism last week after gaining 34 yards against the Jets. That prompted Tomlin to come to Bell's defense during his weekly news conference.

Tomlin was asked about his rookie again Sunday.

“It was what I thought (he) was capable of being,” Tomlin said.

Coming into the game, no Steelers running back had more than 92 yards rushing for the season. The Steelers rushed for a season-high 141 against the Ravens. The last time the Steelers rushed for 100 yards in a game was Nov. 18 against in Baltimore when they gained 134.

“Le'Veon is a good back,” Steelers receiver Emmanuel Sanders said. “It is crazy seeing how he runs. He kind of dances, then he hits the hole. We came into the game saying we wanted to run the ball well, and that's what we did.”

More succinctly, the Steelers wanted to run the ball at the heart of the Baltimore defense. Namely, at the less-than-100-percent Haloti Ngata and Marcus Spears and, more notably, away from Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs on the outside.

“That's what we were trying to do,” Steelers guard David DeCastro said. “We just kept at it. We were just moving them and giving the backs space. We were getting decent yards so (offensive coordinator Todd) Haley kept with it.”

Haley used Bell in various formations, including the wildcat, but a couple of things remained constant — the Steelers running between DeCastro, center Fernando Velasco and left guard Ramon Foster and running successfully on first down.

Of Bell's 93 yards, 62 came on first down (5.6 yards per carry), putting the Steelers in second- and third-and-manageable situations.

The Steelers converted seven of their 14 first downs on the ground and converted 58 percent of their third downs.

“He did a great job,” Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “He was patient when he needed to be, he was physical when he needed to be, and he used his speed. He did a great job, but the credit goes to the o-line.”

The line was playing without its opening day left tackle, right tackle and center. Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the year eight plays into the season, Mike Adams was benched and Marcus Gilbert left early Sunday with a leg injury.

“It is really nice and especially to run the ball in the fourth quarter like we did,” DeCastro said. “We moved the ball and wanted to control the clock, and that's what we did.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.