Le’Veon Bell Sets Franchise Rookie Record For Yards From Scrimmage

By Matthew Marczi

With his 96-yard total haul on the final regular season game of the year, Le’Veon Bell finished his rookie campaign with 1259 yards rushing and passing—the most ever in the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise, besting the mark set by Franco Harris in 1972 when he gained 1235 yards in 14 games.

Remarkable is the fact that Bell missed the first three games of the season, meaning that he gained more yards than did Harris in one less game.

The running game as a whole got off to a slow start as the offensive line and absence of tight ends made it difficult to create running lanes, regardless of who was carrying the ball.

Even at season’s end, as the blocking improved, Bell still finished the year averaging just over 3.5 yards per carry. His 244 carries earned him 860 rushing yards. 214 of those yards, however, came in the last two weeks of the season. He had his first and only 100-yard rushing game last week against the Green Bay Packers.

The difference for Bell was his receiving ability. Though he had just two receptions for 11 yards in his last two games, he finished his rookie season with 45 receptions for 399 yards, an average of about 8.7 yards per reception.

With his touchdown run today, Bell finished the season with eight rushing touchdowns—though it would have been nine had it not been for an unusually applied rule that blows a play dead the moment a player’s helmet comes off, even if it happens to occur with the player suspended in midair.

One of the most impressive things about Bell in his rookie season is that, despite nearly 300 combined touches, he fumbled just one time all year. And though he gave himself a moment to hang his head, he came right back on his next opportunity, bursting through the middle of the first for a 25-yard gain.

The Steelers are rightfully excited about what Bell achieved in his first season. After all, his versatility is why they drafted him in the middle of the second round of the draft, over the more pedigreed Eddie Lacy.

Keep in mind that Bell’s season got off to a slow start. He missed nearly all of training camp and the preseason, and then missed the first three games of the year before being tossed into the fire as the starter in Week Four. He spent most of the year working on a learning curve because of the time he missed.

Setting the franchise record in yards from scrimmage is no small feat, especially when that record was previously held by a Hall of Famer the likes of Harris. That he continued to improve in all areas throughout the season bodes well for the future. Bell already established himself as an every down back as a rookie. Who knows how much better he can be in his sophomore campaign. All I know is that he has me excited for 2014.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Shea Fahr


  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Imagine if Bell played in all 16 games? Rookie of the year?

  • steeltown

    He looks strong and decisive… oh and he can catch like a WR, love this kid!

  • Steve

    Bell came on at the end of the year. Hope to see more of the same in years to come. We have needed a Big back like him since Jerome left.

  • Matt Manzo

    He was the rb I was hoping for! Still can’t believe we got him! Such a bright spot this year! What a way to go out! Can’t wait to watch the Chiefs and Chargers get murdered!

  • Mike Sweeney

    A blessing for us. Congrats and can’t wait for next season

  • Bill Molinaro

    Perhaps the comparison of Bell and Franco Harris is a might premature. When Franco amassed his rookie stats, he started only nine games of the 14 game season; he had seven 100 yard games (six in a row) in those nine games, and averaged 5.6 yards per carry for the season. If his season was two games longer, we likely wouldn’t be having this conversation. Bell is a nice back and I hope he is in Franco’s class someday. Franco was a great back with great acceleration, vision and was a master of the cutback.

  • SSJwiggy

    I’m amazed at how patient the guy is! He doesn’t rush into the pile hoping for yards like Mendenhall did.

  • cp72

    He might of been rookie of the year and we probably make the playoffs.

  • Douglas Kostel Jr.

    Where is anybody comparing him to Franco Harris? It’s just an article on him breaking a record. You need to look at the context of the games Franco started. The fact that he only started 9 of 14 games means absolutely nothing. No other RB is listed as a starter for any game in 1972. Even the second leading rusher (yards and attempts) that season (Fuqua), isn’t credited with one single GS.

  • HopalongCassidy

    Why not anyhow ?

  • Hutch

    Franco Harris played for the Steelers. You know that right?

  • Hutch

    or fall down at first touch, like Mendy did.

  • Bill Molinaro

    The record he broke belonged to Franco and this article and another references Franco’s Stats and thus the defacto comparison. As far as the number of starts; Franco had nine, the last nine games of the season and there were only 14 games in a season. To me it’s obvious that if he started the first five games and if and if the season were two games longer, Bell would not be close statistically. Franco averaged more that 100 Yards/game rushing in the games he played. My point was simply this: Bells rookie season does not compare with that of Harris and his surpassing Harris’s record is a matter of circumstance rather than performance.

  • Bill Molinaro

    What makes you think I didn’t know that? I am a Steelers fan!