Pittsburgh Steelers: Le’Veon Bell Charges Through


Michael Vick could not have said anything more true following the Pittsburgh Steelers dramatic come-from-behind victory over the San Diego Chargers this past Monday night 24-20. What the relief pitcher for the injured Ben Roethlisberger said was, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish.”

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It’s amazing that a player can have a horrible game for nearly 60 minutes, but for the final minutes of a game, shine like a star. That’s what happened for Michael Vick, thus the how you finish comment. Even as this writer watched in frustration as Vick could not get the offense moving downfield and started questioning whether Landry Jones should replace #2, ESPN announcer Jon Gruden repeated the same sentiment.

But just as it appeared perhaps Mike Tomlin should bench Vick, he came alive in the last two minutes engineering an 80-yard drive that began with 2:38 showing on the game clock.

Several players aside from Michael Vick were key in that game winning drive that ended with Le’Veon Bell running out of the wildcat formation and just getting the ball to break the plane before being brought down. Vick has built the reputation of doing damage with his legs but on this night, he failed to make an impact running until the fourth-to-last play of the game.

Dropping back in the pocket with no open receivers in sight, Vick, all 35 years old of him, took off. 24 yards later, he was stopped at the Chargers’ 17-yard line, well enough in position to tie the game with a field goal.

In getting to that position on the field, Darrius Heyward-Bey played a big part again as he has been doing all season by grabbing two passes, one for nine yards and another for 15.  Antonio Brown, held to just four catches in the game, made one of those for four yards in that last drive.

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  • But it was Heath Miller who became just about as big a hero as Le’Veon Bell when he hauled in a 16-yard toss from Vick that got him to the San Diego one-yard line but there was only five seconds to play in the game.

    With perhaps just one play left in the game, Mike Tomlin opted to go for the victory instead of a tie that would have resulted in overtime. Tomlin told the media following the game he felt as though he could still get two plays off in five seconds but that point was moot following Bell’s tremendous effort. Despite what appeared to be a poor effort on Vick’s part, he still finished the game with a mediocre but not disastrous 73.1 rating.

    The lefty throwing QB missed half of his passes on 26 attempts, but still threw for 203 yards. A big chunk of that yardage came on the strength of Markus Wheaton‘s only catch of the game, a crucial 72-yard bomb that went to the house to knot the score at 17.

    The beast known as Antonio Gates just ran roughshod on the Steelers last Monday night not only catching his 100th career touchdown but adding another as well. Gates’ nine catches and 92 yards were coupled with the sharp passing of Philip Rivers and the tough running of rookie Melvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead.

    Rivers lit up the Steelers secondary for 365 yards but he threw a key pick-six in the direction of Antwon Blake who ran 70 yards the opposite direction for a Steelers touchdown.

    A curious thing about this last game for the Steelers was their continual running of the “wildcat.” That is something not seen by Pittsburgh offenses prior to Vick becoming starter and certainly will be put to sleep once Big Ben returns. But it worked rather well for the Black and Gold on Monday Night Football especially on the game’s final play.

    The victory became huge for the Steelers following Cincinnati’s fifth straight win to start the season and the W keeps Pittsburgh two games behind the Bengals with two games to play against the division leaders.

    There were a handful of players worth mentioning who performed well in San Diego. Ross Cockrell who came in as a free agent to the Steelers after being a fourth round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills last year, had one of his best games of the season.

    Pittsburgh Steelers
    Pittsburgh Steelers /

    Pittsburgh Steelers

    Jordan Berry continues to do a great job punting the ball and pinning opponents deep. Berry booted a 56-yarder on Monday night and of his eight punts, six finished inside San Diego’s 20. Sean Spence led the team in tackles with eight. Rookie Bud Dupree had one of Pittsburgh’s two sacks but showed more signs that he is going to be a star in this league.

    Welcome to the NFL Chris Boswell! Unlike his predecessor missing field goals, Boswell’s only attempt of the night was right down the pike for a 47-yard three-pointer. Boswell showed plenty of leg strength on kickoffs as well. DeAngelo Williams spelled Le’Veon Bell with 20 yards on just five carries.

    While he wasn’t perfect on the night, Robert Golden played well at safety. Finally, there’s the combination of Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley who called an excellent game plan at the end to set up the win. A gutsy call indeed in going for the winning touchdown instead of settling for overtime.

    The win is big as well with the AFC West Division leading Cardinals coming to Pittsburgh having lost just one game. Pittsburgh’s schedule does not get any easier with Arizona paying a visit to Heinz Field. Ben Roethlisberger could be seen walking around in San Diego on Monday night, even tossing a few footballs around. But he is still several weeks away from even making a premature return, so Michael Vick will have to shoulder the load at least one more time.

    In wrapping up the win, Mike Tomlin said to the media regarding the photo finish:

    “I’m just trying to win football games. I just don’t live in fear. I don’t worry about those things. I can’t. I can’t waste time worrying about that. I have to do what I feel is appropriate, and most of it is gut-oriented, not only in terms of the men we’re working with but also based on what has transpired in that stadium to get us to that point.”

    More of Tomlin and other’s players comments are published on the Steelers’ official web site. Finally, just as Mike Tomlin had indicated, he gave props to Steelers Nation for the strong showing in San Diego. Jon Gruden declared that Steelers fans travel well.

    That is very true, but what is also true is that in every NFL city you will find many Steelers fans either living there having moved from Pittsburgh or just growing up in that city and simply attaching themselves to Steelers Nation. Black and Gold faithful do travel well but they also have relocated in other cities for one reason or another just as yours truly has done.

    Next: Panthers Out For Revenge Against The Ramblin’ Wreck

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