Bell Carries Entire Team In Steelers Win: Instant Reaction
The Pittsburgh Steelers needed a win badly against the Titans on Monday night football if they wanted to keep chase with the AFC North leading Bengals. He’s been great all season long for this offense, but I don’t think there’s a lot of folks out there who expected that Le’Veon Bell would almost literally carry this team on his shoulders to get that win.
The largest fear from just about everyone, even probably the coaches themselves was that this team would perform poorly on the road against a sub .200 win percentage team…. again. Of course the Steelers wouldn’t make it easy and make the evening a roller coaster of a night. The Steelers opened the game with a field goal and the defense opened up with a pick-6 on rookie QB Mettenberger by Willie Gay.
It went all downhill from there for the next two and a half quarters. The defense essentially did a 180 after that score and allowed the Titans to move the ball downfield to score points of their own. It didn’t stop there. The defensive line left holes. The LB’s weren’t blitzing and continually back in coverage, and the secondary opened up. Very quickly, it looked like someone put on the same ol’ broken record on for Monday night’s game.
Mettenberg carved up the secondary with tons of time to throw and receivers that were open by at least two yards every time. He looked like a seasoned veteran out there. Willie Gay bit on a double move from Nate Washington at the end of the first half that resulted in an 80 yard TD. The defense was in a Cover 4. It was the end of the half. And yet, he really felt like he needed to bite and jump on what he thought was a curl route from Washington. Wow. Mettenberg floated in a deep pass that Washington easily took into the end zone. That Dick LeBeau record against rookie QB’s was ready to get tossed out the window – and probably would have were it not for a huge turnaround late in the second half…. but not by his defense.
The offense had it’s own struggles. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley opened up with six straight runs from Bell. Pretty clear what Haley wanted to accomplish. But, once the defense started giving up points, Ben Roethlisberger needed to throw the ball more. The Titans were hungry with their blitz packages, and the offensive line struggled all game in protecting their quarterback. The sad thing is that this is the healthiest the Steelers O-line has been all season. They just simply kept acting like turnstiles and continued to fail on picking up blitzes. The pressure threw off Big Ben for a bit. Some of his throws were off, yet his receiving core – mainly Martaivs Bryant – did not get after the ball when thrown within reach.
Nov 17, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) celebrates after making a touchdown catch against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at LP Field. The Steelers beat the Titans 27-24. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
The Steelers were down 24-13 with about 20 minutes to play. The Titans were in total control. But then for whatever reason, the offensive line began dominating the line of scrimmage in their zone run schemes, and Bell made the most of it. The guy was gaining yards right and left – both in the run and passing games. He was simply amazing. The cuts. The moves. The intensity when hitting the holes. The even greater physicality when lowering the shoulder and making the second level pay for trying to bring him down. Bell ended the evening with 33 carries and 203 yards and one TD. Bell became 5th Steelers RB to hit 200 yards rushing. (Willie Parker holds record with 223)
The Steelers put together impressive drives with a nice mix of run and pass that kept the clock going, and they found the end zone on two key drives that gave them the lead for good mid-4th quarter. Thank God for Bell. The Steelers defense should be buying that guy his lunch all week because his runs helped keep the Steelers defense off the field for the final seven minutes of the game. The Titans never had a chance to win the game. The Steelers D never had a chance to blow it.
Bell carried this team on his shoulders to the win. Beast mode. Plain and simple. He’s a special guy and will be a joy to watch on this team for years to come.
The Steelers enter the bye week right in tow with the Cincy Bengals. This game was huge. The win allows them to be in the driver’s seat in this division. They have yet to play the Bengals. Circle’m on the calendar – they could be the two biggest contests for this team all season. There is much needed rest coming. The defense needs answers fast, however. They’ve got Drew Brees and Colston next week. The offensive line needs to get this pass protection thing that they found a few weeks ago going again. Yes the Saints have struggled, but that’s just it – they are sub .500 team. History tells us we should expect the Steelers to struggle in this one.
Oh yeah two more things…. 1) The refs blew two personal foul calls – one on a hit to the head on Heath Miller, the other was roughing the passer in the 4th when Big Ben was driven in to the ground well after ball was in flight. 2) MIKE MITCHELL IS GARBAGE.