The last time the Pittsburgh Steelers had a 100 yard rushing game from a single ball carrier it was before Thanksgiving…. of last year. It’s been 22 games since a running back broke the 100 yard mark in a single game for the Black & Gold. During Week 9 in the 2012 season, the Steelers rallied behind a 142 yard performance from Isaac Redman (who?) for a 24-20 win over the New York Football Giants. Surprisingly, that was the Steelers third week in a row of 100 yard rushes (after a double dip from Jonathan Dwyer the previous two weeks) during a season where the team couldn’t land on a featured back all year. Remember when Willie Parker or Jerome Bettis or even Bam Morris would get at least five 100 yard games a season? Seems so long ago.
Well, one year, one month, 12 days, and 22 games after Redman’s 142 yard tally, the Steelers are still looking for a 100 yard game performance from their rookie back LeVeon Bell. If Bell can’t break past the 100 yard barrier in the last two games of this season, this will be the first season in at least 45 years in which the Steelers have not had a 100 yard rushing performance for an entire season. That’s right, over 45 years. I stopped looking after 1966. The closest they ever got to a vacant 100 yard game was back in 1991 when Barry Foster ran for a single 100 yard game (121) in Week 2 during a loss against the Buffalo Bills.
Of all the things that have gone bad, wrong, and ugly for the Steelers the last two seasons while Todd Haley has been in command of the play calling for this offense, not having a 100 yard rushing performance is a heavy kick to the teeth for any member of Steeler Nation. The Steeler Way and Steeler Football has always been physical smash mouth football. Well, that’s been at least the mystique built up from the last 30+ seasons of that kind of football. Wasn’t it Rooney himself in the offseason that said this team needed to get back to running the football? Get back to being the team that could take a fourth quarter lead and shove the ball right down the middle of the field to kill the clock?
Bell can’t be blamed completely if he fails to gain 100 yards in a single game. There are other contributing factors, such as an offensive line that couldn’t impose their will on the dumbest of Imperial Stormtroopers. The biggest factor is having a stubborn offensive coordinator that can’t stick with game plans that work and makes very questionable situational play calls. It’s not Bell’s fault that he’s been put on the sidelines in favor of Dwyer when the situations call for a back more of Bell’s speed and running ability (to name one example of the inept play calling). It’s not Bell’s fault that the offensive line failed to pick up the new zone blocking scheme that was supposed to get this team back to being a running force. The point is not to place blame on a single person like Bell or Haley – although Haley certainly should face the brunt of the blame.
It will just be a sad (and bad) day in Steelers History if Bell can’t break 100 yard hards against the Packers or the Browns.