Around the NFL  

 

Steelers ride Bell's record-setting day to knock off Bills

Print

The Steelers (8-5) control their destiny in the AFC North after taking down the Bills (6-7) on Sunday. Here's what we learned from Pittsburgh's 27-20 win over Buffalo:

1. All hail Le'Veon Bell. Entering Sunday with 100-plus scrimmage yards in eight of nine games this season, the Steelers star running back crossed that barrier long before halftime. The tumbling snow had no effect on Bell, who crushed a franchise record with 236 yards on the ground off 38 carries against Buffalo's baffled defense -- the most single-game rushing yards ever allowed by the Bills. Scoring all three of Pittsburgh's touchdowns, Bell continued a theme of heavy usage down the stretch with 298 total yards off a monstrous 42 touches. Along the way, Bell became just the fifth player in NFL history with 30 games of 100-plus yards from scrimmage over his first 45 appearances, joining a group that includes Edgerrin James, Eric Dickerson, Marcus Allen and Arian Foster. A picture of patience behind Pittsburgh's underrated offensive line, Bell looms as a massive X-factor for a playoff-ready Steelers club with the requisite offensive firepower to hang with anyone.

2. Two drives in, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor had thrown for zero yards, been sacked three times and had a pick six called back by penalty. Passing for 228 yards -- mostly in garbage time -- Taylor led an offense that was outgained 460 yards to 275 on the day. With Buffalo's ground game neutralized, Taylor was a non-factor through the air beyond an eight-yard scoring dart to Sammy Watkins and a late-game 40-yard touchdown pass to tight end Charles Clay.

3. With the loss, Buffalo's season is all but mathematically over. With games left against the Browns, Dolphins and Jets, the Bills would need to run the table and get outrageous help for any shot at the playoffs. The Steelers, meanwhile, are flying high with three division tilts remaining against the Bengals, Ravens and Browns. If Baltimore (7-5) falls to the Patriots on Monday night, Pittsburgh heads into Week 15 with sole possession of the AFC North.

4. Three minutes into the second quarter, Ben Roethlisberger had found six different Steelers targets for 150 yards. Taking one shot after the next, Big Ben ultimately paid the price with three interceptions in the snow. The turnovers kept Buffalo in the mix before Pittsburgh wisely centered their second-half attack around Bell.

5. Are the Bills truly the league's top ground attack? It didn't look that way Sunday against an active Steelers front seven. Linebacker Ryan Shazier, lineman Stephon Tuitt and safety Sean Davis all made plays for a Pittsburgh front that stacked the box on early downs and challenged LeSean McCoy to beat them. The Bills runner managed just 27 yards at 2.3 yards per attempt for a Buffalo offense that managed just 67 total yards on the ground.

6. Lorenzo Alexander's magical Indian-summer campaign continues. The 33-year-old Bills linebacker ended Pittsburgh's first drive with an agile interception of Roethlisberger, marking Alexander's first pro pick in 140 career games.

7. This game is a strong example of how the box score is often a mirage. Forget the score. Forget the stats. Most anything Buffalo achieved came long after the Steelers had basically salted the game away.

Print

Fan Discussion