By Christina Rivers
On Sunday afternoon, the Pittsburgh Steelers visited Lambeau Field in frigid conditions to face the Green Bay Packers. Both teams were counting on late-season success to push them closer to a possible entry into the 2013 NFL playoff scenario. In a game where penalties and turnovers added up, the Steelers were able to hand the Packers a 38-31 loss. Rookie running back Le’Veon Bell propelled the Steelers rushing game and the Pittsburgh defense ultimately kept the team on top.
Bell got off to a slow start after foot and knee injuries, but the former second-round draft pick out of Michigan State is moving closer to a franchise record that is currently held by a Hall of Famer. Franco Harris set a rookie total of 1,235 yards from scrimmage in 1972. On Sunday, Bell had 26 carries for 124 yards, his first 100-yard game of his young professional football career. His 388 receiving yards have turned Bell into an effective double weapon for the Steelers offense. Thus far, Bell has a 770 rushing yard total on 224 carries (a 3.4 yard-per-carry average.) He has 393 total yards receiving on 44 catches (8.9 yards-per-catch.) While Harris had 10 rushing touchdowns his rookie season, Bell currently has seven.
While no one is considering Bell a future Hall of Fame entrant just yet, he appears to have finally gained the confidence of coaching staff and his quarterback, playing a large roll in the win over the Packers.
“He’s grown in the run game and the pass game,” said Ben Roethlisberger of Bell, “as a receiver and a blocker. I have all the faith in the world that when a blitz comes, he’s going to pick it up. I think he’s doing a great job mentally and physically. He looks as good as ever.”
Bell received honors this week by being named the “Joe Greene Great Performance Award” winner by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America. Annually, the award is given to an outstanding rookie with the Steelers.
“It means a lot to win this,” Bell said while crediting his teammates and coaches. “I am thankful for it…And to win the award named after Joe Greene means everything to me.”
Steelers defensive back Ike Taylor also received an award this week. The Pittsburgh Chapter of Pro Football Writers of America voted him the winner of the annual “Chief Award,” which was established in honor of the founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Arthur J. Rooney, Sr. Taylor was selected as the player who best exemplified the spirit of cooperation with the media.
Taylor, who has his own radio show, said, “I understand what comes with the territory. I understand where the reporters are coming from…The radio show lets me know (reporters) have to write stories, they have to get their opinions out there, regardless of whether you like it or not.” Taylor said that he tries to make himself available to the media. Taylor’s close relationship with Dan Rooney, Sr., made the award especially special. “It’s an honor, especially carrying the Rooney name.”
Preparing for the Cleveland Browns, the Steelers are well aware of the playoff picture. With one game left in the regular season, the Steelers are facing a must-win situation to even get a chance to play in January, 2014. To gain a wild-card slot, the Steelers will not only have to win Sunday, but also hope that Baltimore, Miami and San Diego lose to Cincinnati, New York (Jets) and Kansas City, respectively.
The feeling in Pittsburgh, including the locker room of the Steelers, is that there it is absolutely do or die time. Sunday will be one of the most exciting weeks in the 2013 NFL regular season.
For more Steelers news and updates, visit Steelers Central.
Christina Rivers has covered the Pittsburgh Steelers and National Football League professionally as a reporter and photographer for over a decade. Rivers studied exercise physiology and sports psychology at Brigham Young University as a student-athlete. Christina is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. Her work can be found on