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Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Bell's versatility on display in victory

By Scott Brown

Steel City wake-up: morning links

Le'Veon Bell had the best game of his young career against the Ravens, rushing for 93 yards and averaging almost 5 yards per carry. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley took advantage of Bell’s versatility and showcased the rookie in a host of different formations.

As a result, Bell rushed for roughly 66 percent of his yards on first down, and that helped the Steelers stay out of third-and-long for much of their 19-16 win at Heinz Field.

Bell’s emergence as an every-down back led to the release of Isaac Redman, who opened the season as the starter at running back but became the odd man out in the backfield after Bell returned from a mid-foot sprain.

The Steelers have now released both of their leading rushers from 2012 since late August, though they re-signed Jonathan Dwyer after LaRod Stephens-Howling went down with a season-ending knee injury.

The running game is trending upward with Bell and an offensive line that is coming off what was easily its best game of the season. The Steelers, meanwhile, have put together back-to-back wins for the first time in almost a year.

There is still much work ahead for the 2-4 Steelers, and their disastrous start has left them little margin for error. That is why the players said to a man that the Steelers did not announce their return with their first regular-season win over the Ravens since 2009.

A look around the AFC shows that the Steelers have to continue stringing wins together just to get into the discussion about the playoffs. Kansas City’s surprising 7-0 start doesn’t help as it all but guarantees that at least one of the two wild-card spots will go to a team in the AFC West.

The Bengals have taken early control of the AFC North but their 27-24 win over the Lions came at a significant cost. Cornerback Leon Hall left the game with what has been reported as a season-ending Achilles injury.