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Print

Bell's debut spoiled by loss

Posted Sep 30, 2013

LONDON – The No. 2 pick made his long-awaited NFL debut at Wembley Stadium, but running back Le’Veon Bell didn’t feel much like celebrating afterward.

Not even after rushing for his first two NFL touchdowns.

For Bell, the 34-27 loss the Steelers absorbed at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings, and the Steelers’ 0-4 record four games into the 2013 season, trumped a pair of sixes.

“The two touchdowns don’t mean anything to me because we lost,” he said.

“I needed three.”

Bell settled for becoming the first Steelers rookie to rush for two touchdowns in a game since Bam Morris did it on Dec. 4, 1994 against Cincinnati.

Bell scored from 8 yards away and from 1 yard out along the way to a 16-carry, 57-yard evening. He also caught four passes for 27 yards after not having appeared since suffering a right mid-foot injury in the Steelers’ second preseason game on Aug. 19 at Washington.

“He gave us a good effort from a conditioning standpoint for a guy who hadn’t played a lot of football,” Coach Mike Tomlin assessed. “To absorb the number of snaps that he did was a positive.

“In terms of evaluating his play with a fine-tooth comb, I’ll do that at an appropriate time.”

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger didn’t need to wait for a video review.

“I thought he did a great job,” Roethlisberger said. “He did a good job communicating. I thought our running game was good. I thought Jonathan (Dwyer) came in and spelled him well.

“We did some good things. I felt like we made strides on offense. It’s hard to say that and feel very good about yourself after a loss.”

Tight end Heath Miller, likewise, thought Bell “did well.”

“He’s going to be a good back,” Miller said. “He’s just gotta keep grinding like the rest of us, keep working at it.”

Bell’s first touchdown resulted from his avoiding a defender in the backfield just after accepting the handoff from Roethlisberger and then bouncing outside. The play was finished via a head-first dive into the end zone.

That first-quarter score sliced the Vikings’ early lead to 10-7.

His second touchdown occurred on his second consecutive crack from the Minnesota 1-yard line and closed the Steelers to within 20-17 early in the third quarter.

Bell left the game briefly favoring his right foot after the final play of the third quarter.

“A little tweak,” he said. “I’m fine.”

He evaluated his overall performance as “not good enough because we lost the game.

“I felt fine conditioning-wise,” Bell said. “I still have room for improvement but I felt in shape. I felt good out there.”

Despite not having played in the first three regular season games Bell emerged from the Minnesota encounter second among Steelers in rushing (behind Felix Jones’ 74 yards), and he also became No. 1 on the team in rushing touchdowns with the Steelers’ only two of the season.

“We gotta keep moving forward,” he said. “Things are going to fall our way eventually. The balls just haven’t been bouncing our way. We’re gonna turn this thing around. We just gotta keep taking it day by day, working hard and doing the little things right.”

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