Steelers rookie running back Bell shines in clutch
By Ralph N. Paulk
Published: Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, 10:06 p.m.
GREEN BAY, Wis. — Running back Le'Veon Bell walked onto storied Lambeau Field on Sunday with a chip on his shoulder.
He said all week that he wanted to prove the Steelers were right to opt for him instead of Green Bay's Eddie Lacy in the second round of the NFL Draft.
The Michigan State product delivered his first 100-yard performance: 124 yards on a career-high 26 carries and the winning 1-yard touchdown run with 1:25 remaining to lead the Steelers to a thrilling 38-31 victory.
“It's crazy that I got a chance to play at Lambeau Field,” Bell said. “It was everything I wanted. The crowd was loud. It was cold, and there was snow. Growing up, it's what I saw on TV, so I was happy to play in it.”
“(Bell) is a good player, and he's getting better every week,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “He is a complete player, an all-situation player. We'll keep working him and try to keep him humble.”
Lacy, who left in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, posted impressive numbers: 84 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He hurdled cornerback Ike Taylor at the goal line on a 14-yard run that gave the Packers a 14-7 lead late in the first half.
But his efforts were wasted by penalties that often altered the Packers' game plan to lean on the ground game.
“Those penalties definitely set us back a little,” Lacy said.
For Bell, it was a game of ebbs and flows. His highs often were tempered by the lows: three dropped passes and a fumble at the Steelers' 3-yard line that led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Lacy in the third quarter.
“As a runner, you look forward to opportunities to put the game away,” Bell said. “(Lacy) is a great player, but it was definitely a challenge on my part. My single charge was to play to his level or better.
“Besides the fumble, I'm happy with my performance.”
Bell showed his mental toughness after his fumble. He responded with a 25-yard run to spark a six-play, 68-yard scoring drive that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger capped with an 11-yard pass to tight end Matt Spaeth that put the Steelers ahead 24-21 late in the third quarter.
“The fumble is something that really got to me. It made me angry,” Bell said. “I went to the coaches, the offensive linemen and Ben and told them I wanted the ball. Whatever we were going to do, I wanted to go out there and make a play.”
Bell's resiliency didn't go unnoticed.
“Bell is the total package,” receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. “He is mentally tough, so we were confident he could come back from the fumble.”
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @RalphPaulk_Trib.
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