CLEVELAND – He’s still looking for his first 100-yard game in a rookie season that has produced a long run of just 25 yards. But running back Le’Veon Bell is impacting games the way the Steelers need him to all the same.
“I feel good,” Bell said after Sunday’s 27-11 triumph at FirstEnergy Stadium. “I still have a long ways to go. I’m still going to continue to grow and get better, but I feel good. I can’t complain about touches or anything. We’re winning games, and that’s all that matters to me.”
Bell finished with 80 yards on 23 carries and with another 18 on a pair of catches, for a total of 123 against the Browns, which continued a recent trend.
Consider the performances Bell had pieced together prior to Cleveland:
11/03 at New England: 74 yards rushing, 65 yards receiving, 139 total.
11/10 Buffalo: 57 rushing, 39 receiving, 96 total.
11/17 Detroit: 36 rushing, 52 receiving, 88 total.
That’s an average of 23 touches and 105.2 yards rushing and receiving per game over the last four games.
Bell also had come in at just under 100 combined yards on Oct. 20 against Baltimore (93 rushing, 6 receiving, 99 total). The Steelers visit the Ravens Thursday night.
“We knew it was going to be a tough defensive front,” Bell said of the Browns. “We were willing to take on the challenge. The guys up front did an amazing job moving those guys off the ball. Our runners did a good job of running after contact and just keeping the running game going.
“These guys are counting on me every game. I’m a guy in the offense who can make plays. I look for those guys to look at me to make plays, just like I look at
GETTING OFF THE FIELD
The Browns had three third-down conversions on seven attempts at halftime. They converted those three on their first four attempts during their first two possessions. Cleveland didn’t convert a third down in the second quarter and managed just one in the third quarter on its way to a 6-for-17 total for the afternoon (35 percent).
Two of the four turnovers generated by the Steelers’ defense came on Browns’ third downs.
MIND OVER MATTER
The announced temperature at kickoff was 20 degrees. And anyone who happened to walk from a parking lot to the stadium no doubt felt the wrath of a wind that gusted at 31 miles per hour.
Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward decided to take the early warm-up in shorts and a T-shirt, despite the frigid conditions.
“I don’t want the weather to be an element, and when we get out there nobody else should feel like that,” Heyward said.
But wasn’t he freezing out there prior to the game?
“No,” Heyward maintained, “not at all.”
THEN AND NOW
The Steelers generated zero turnovers through their first four games (0-4). They’ve generated 14 (seven fumble recoveries, seven interceptions) in their last seven games (5-2).
“We’ve been getting takeaways,” sub-package safety
“We think about it in practice, we talk about it and we come out here and execute. Coach (Dick) LeBeau is calling a great game and we’re just executing what he calls. Everybody is hustling, running to the ball, and it’s helping us out.”
THE ROAD BACK
Allen rejoined the Steelers this season following their 0-4 start. He spoke on Sunday about what turned the team and the season around.
“The leadership, man, and the no-quit attitude, and Coach Tomlin remaining steadfast. Coach Tomlin remaining focused on the task ahead, and the goals, and keeping the ship sailing in the right place, and everybody believing in that still.
“If you look at the 0-4 portion of the season it was just mistakes, a lot of mistakes. Teams were beating us but we were beating ourselves a lot. We eliminated those, guys took a look in the mirror and took a stance of humility and accountability and now we’re playing more disciplined and we’re playing better.”
The Steelers are 5-2 with Allen, who came back after being released by Dallas.
“I’m just thankful to be back, thankful to be on this team, thankful that they allowed me to have an opportunity,” he said. “I know what this team provides. I know Coach Tomlin. I know the Rooneys very well and what type of culture they have here. It’s a no-brainer for me to come back here to play for Coach LeBeau, to play for Coach (Carnell) Lake, to play for Coach Tomin, play for the Rooneys. It’s a no-brainer, and it’s a lot of fun doing it.
“I love it. It’s like being a kid again, being in college, being here. The atmosphere, the culture, the environment that’s built, there’s no other place I’d rather be.”