The Pittsburgh Steelers not only got a significant win on Sunday, pulling out a tight victory over the Baltimore Ravens, they also found their running game. And they found it in rookie running back Le'Veon Bell.
Bell was clearly the focus of the Steelers' offense early in the game. The Steelers' offensive line is in shambles, but Bell's skills made the linemen look great. Bell finished the game with 93 yards rushing, and you could tell if not for the circumstances late in the game, a 100-yard game was well within his grasp.
The Steelers staff is showing confidence in the young back, even using Bell as the Wildcat quarterback on multiple plays, including one zone-read play.
Jonathan Dwyer isn't doing that.
Bell's game is based on two important factors. First is his size. Bell is 6'1" and around 240 pounds. This makes him bigger and stronger than any other back on the roster by a significant margin.
The other part of Bell's game that is so special—and that works so well with his size—is his lateral agility. When Bell gets to the line of scrimmage, he can stop and make that jump cut like a back 30 pounds lighter.
It was clear today that even when the Steelers' offensive line didn't give Bell a lane, he was going to find a way to make it work. Bell showed excellent patience and used those quick feet to find a crease and get through it.
Once he was through the line of scrimmage, that 240-pound frame and an excellent forward lean made him hard to bring down.
Obviously, it is premature to be too positive about Bell or make any comparisons that will bring the ire of the Steelers fanbase. But it's hard to watch Bell play and not think a little about former Steelers great Jerome Bettis.
There is another aspect of Bell's game that might be missed, but it's a huge plus. As a former offensive lineman, let me say that Bell is the kind of back linemen like to block for. They don't dance around, they don't try to break everything to the outside, and they can find a seam when the play isn't there as designed.
This type of play is what the Steelers expected when they drafted Rashard Mendenhall, but ultimately they only got that from him for a short period of time.
The future looks bright for the Steelers' run game with Bell in the backfield.