No Answer For Le’Veon Bell’s Fast Start, Slow Finish Against The Dolphins

By Matthew Marczi

When the Pittsburgh Steelers first broke huddle against the Miami Dolphins, it seemed that the game plan was to ride the young workhorse running back, Le’Veon Bell, in the snowy weather.

The first snap of the game was a running back screen that went for five yards. A sack on second down set the plan backwards, but they went right back to Bell on the next drive, feeding him on the first four plays for 22 yards.

After four more carries for 10 yards and another pass for nine yards, the Steelers found themselves on the Dolphins’ five-yard line before Ben Roethlisberger found Emmanuel Sanders for the game’s first score.

Then the second quarter came around, and the Steelers started spelling Bell with Jonathan Dwyer and Felix Jones.

In fact, he had just two carries to close the second half, one of which was negated by a holding penalties, and no targets.

Bell finished up the last drive of the third quarter with three carries for 18 yards and a 10-yard reception. The fourth quarter was filled with incomplete passes.

In total, he finished with 15 carries and five receptions. 20 touches seems like a respectable amount, but not when you consider how they came out of the gate pounding the ball into his gut.

A reader asked me prior to the game whether I felt Bell was in for a big game. My response was that I felt the Steelers would be lenient on him if the game circumstances allowed for them to do so.

Thus, I wasn’t surprised to see them come out using him heavily early on in order to establish the run.

However, I was surprised to see how the game developed as Bell was slowly weaned out of the offensive attack despite the Steelers in a one-possession game, not to mention battling the elements.

Did the Steelers use Bell less as the game wore on because they wanted to monitor his usage after suffering a concussion the week before, or was it simply a product of circumstance, considering much of the second half featured the no huddle?

It’s hard to say, but there’s no denying that nine of his 15 carries came in the first quarter alone. Most of his nine targets came late in the game, primarily on checkdowns as the pass protection gradually corroded.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Kevin Gobleck

    I really hope he gets a 100 yard game before the season is over


    It is a reflection of this team and not Bell, but can you even imagine saying that about Franco, Jerome……. any Steeler since the ’60s?


    Just checked. Twenty-one consecutive games without a 100 yard rusher.

  • steeltown

    I certainly hope that it had everything to do with monitoring his overall snap count due to last weeks concussion, otherwise it’s completely dumbfounding, he IS our best offensive weapon not named Antonio Brown. Arguments can be made for Miller and Cotchery but in the elements I think Bell is the biggest asset

  • Shea Fahr

    He is averaging between 20-25 touches a game receiving/running and right around 100 yards a game. Not bad at all for a Rookie who missed his first 3 games of the season. I think their plan is 20-25 touches a game for him regardless of circumstances.

  • Shea Fahr

    Our win/loss record since then (Giants game?) has certainly shown the effects.

  • steeltown

    True.. between rushes and receptions he has a good amount of touches, but I would think in the snow he would be utilized alittle more, but then also you have the concussion issue looming so that has to be factored in

  • Shea Fahr

    True but maybe Miami started stacking the box a little too. I am not sure because I do not have the stomach to go back and review it. His perceived lack of touches did not lose the game, the Defense’s lack of tackling did.

  • dkoy85

    The defense definitely lost the game but the longer the offense is on the field the less the defense is on. Bell was running like a maniac and could have had a similar game as McCoy over in Philly. The only thing that makes any sense is they were monitoring him because of his concussion… and that would be fine with me. But I do believe his lack of touches certainly aided the defense in losing the game.

  • Shea Fahr

    Maybe but when the defense gives up double explosive plays, it kind of limits what you can do with Bell too. The only problem I had with the play calling was towards the end when we were up and only called one run thru 2 series.

  • cencalsteeler

    It stopped snowing in the second half so they aired it out more. The Steelers have been conditioned this season to having to rely on the passing game because they have been behind on the scoreboard so much. Bell was not running the ball much in the second half based solely on the Steelers natural tendencies.

  • steeltown


  • Jarod Wells

    Me too, because some ppl are going to try and use that against him, to dispute he in not an effective back. However, that is false, I think the sky is the limit for this kid

  • 2443scott

    i got a answer for it its called coaching …i dont know if its haley or tomlin or both some times you see certain plays that work then they go right back to plays that dont work ….is it the only plays in play book that they have and dont want to change the plays up ….you can watch a game and see things that you go now that was a good play then 2 to 3 plays later it makes you wonder why they called ran the play like that because every team in nfl and arena football know doesnt work but they do it any way ….i know the plan is to keep the wr`s in tight on off-line a throw ball to them and try and run from there… but what ever happened to spreading the def-line out with wr

  • Elijah Stevenson

    I think Haley though that we should run the ball most of the game since we were playing Miami in cold weather but when there offense kept scoring running the ball was pointless at that point

  • Virdin Barzey

    I agree. This team is about sticking with what works rather than managing the game especially when your defense looks like hot garbage. The passing was working and it looks like they may have just stuck with it. Like you, sure hope it was them protecting Bell.

  • Virdin Barzey

    Agreed. When we were up late in the 4th, in the snow, at home, you have got to run the ball. I don’t care if it was Bell, get someone in their to kill that clock.

  • P – squared

    our best offensive weapon is #7 and its not even close without #7 their is no antonio brown….. just go ask jordy nelson and green bay

  • RMSteeler

    Another example of poor game planning and/or misues or incapable backups at RB.

  • steeltown

    Of course that’s true

  • Fantasy uruG

    this article is a little misleading, saying the steelers started spelling bell in the second quarter and on.. leveon bell played 55 snaps on offence this past sunday, dwyer played 7 snaps and felix played 2 snaps. to say they started to spell leveon is just not accurate, look at the numbers, google football outsiders snaps.. then sort and check it out