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Healthier Le'Veon Bell looks forward to facing Patriots

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The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers faced the New England Patriots, Le'Veon Bell played just 11 snaps in a 36-17 blowout loss in the AFC Championship at Gillette Stadium.

The running back hurt his groin early in the playoffs and re-injured it after six carries in the defeat. Sunday is a redemption for the dual-threat Bell.

"I just felt like I missed an opportunity to get to a Super Bowl," Bell said Wednesday, via ESPN.com. "When this year came around, we saw the schedules and everything, I knew had another opportunity if I was being healthy and playing the Pats again. It's good. The opportunity is here."

Bell called it a "terrible feeling" watching his team from the sideline last postseason. During the Super Bowl, the back told NFL Network the Steelers could have beaten the Pats if he was healthy.

Bell looks forward to a chance to make amends as the Steelers could put a stranglehold on the AFC's No. 1 seed with a win at Heinz Field.

"This is the game everyone has been waiting to see," Bell said. "It's the No. 1 and 2 teams in the AFC going at it head-to-head. This is obviously a game that a lot of people, even before the season started, probably circled on their calendars. I'll definitely embrace the game. The Patriots are the team that's always in the hunt for the Super Bowl."

While Antonio Brown is the jet fuel propelling Pittsburgh to breathtaking victories, Bell has been the engine, churning out yards and keeping drives alive. The running back ranks first in the NFL in touches (358 -- 71 more than the next closest player), carries (283), rushing yards (1,105) and scrimmage yards (1,684). Bell has 100-plus scrimmage yards in five consecutive games.

While he compiled just 20 yards due to injury in the last meeting with New England, in his two other tilts versus Bill Belichick's defense Bell averaged 144 scrimmage yards and 4.25 yards per carry.

"I think it's gonna be more so of whoever executes better," Bell said of Sunday's tilt. "They got players who can make plays. We have players who can make plays. It depends on who makes the plays and when they make them.

"I want to make sure I'm the guy always making a play when the opportunity presents itself."

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