Bell, Brown, Big Ben make Steel­ers state­ment


PITTS­BURGH — Le’Veon Bell spent the last two Jan­uarys watch­ing help­lessly while the Pitts­burgh Steel­ers tried to make a deep post­sea­son run with­out him. The ever fluid run­ning back made up for lost time Sunday against the Mi­ami Dol­phins.

So did Ben Roeth­lis­berger and An­to­nio Brown, the other mem­bers of Pitts­burgh’s “Big Three” to­gether in the playoffs for the first time.

Pound­ing away re­lent­less at a de­fense that hardly seemed in­ter­ested in stop­ping him at frigid Heinz Field, Bell ran for a fran­chise post­sea­son record 167 yards and two scores . The Steel­ers over­whelmed the beaten-up and mistake-prone Mi­ami Dol­phins 30-12 on Sunday.

“We wanted to go out there and make a state­ment,” Bell said.

Bell, Brown and Roeth­lis­berger, who wore a walk­ing boot on his right foot af­ter­ward, more than wiped away the bit­ter af­ter­taste of a 30-15 whip­ping at the hands of the Dol­phins in mid-Oc­to­ber. Given a shot at re­demp­tion, Pitts­burgh didn’t let it go to waste. The Steel­ers (12-5) led

by two touch­downs be­fore the game was 10 min­utes old on long touch­down passes from Roeth­lis­berger to Brown. Mi­ami never got closer than 11.

“Le’Veon was beastly,” said Brown, who fin­ished with five re­cep­tions for 124 yards and the two scores. “All day, con­trol­ling the line of scrim­mage, just run­ning guys over and find­ing a way to put the ball in the end zone. Any time he’s play­ing like that, we’re go­ing to be a hard team to beat.”

Cer­tainly, at least, teams like the Dol­phins (10-7). Given a chance to prove their first playoff berth in eight years wasn’t a fluke de­spite be­ing out­gained and outscored dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, Mi­ami never found a rhythm. The prob­lem wasn’t the sin­gle digit wind chill or a vi­cious hit ab­sorbed by quar­ter­back Matt Moore in the sec­ond quar­ter as much as it was the Steel­ers.

Pitts­burgh sacked Moore five times, forced turnovers on three con­sec­u­tive pos­ses­sions in the mid­dle of the game, and never re­ally let the Dol­phins up off the deck.

“It’s hard to win when you turn the ball over,” said Moore, com­pleted 29 of 36 passes for 289 yards with a touch­down and an in­ter­cep­tion. “In the playoffs, you can’t make mis­takes and that’s on me.”

Pitts­burgh (12-5) ran off its eighth straight vic­tory to set up a visit to AFC West cham­pion Kansas City (12-4) next Sunday. The Steel­ers rolled by the Chiefs 43-14 on Oct. 2.

“We have to un­der­stand the same pas­sion and ded­i­ca­tion that we put in this week to beat Mi­ami, that’s how Kansas City is go­ing to try to beat us,” Bell said.

At least Bell will be around for the chal­lenge. He missed the playoffs each of the last two sea­sons with knee in­juries. All he did in his post­sea­son de­but was break Hall of Famer Franco Har­ris’ team mark for yards rush­ing in a playoff game. Har­ris ran for 158 yards in a Su­per Bowl win over Min­nesota 42 years ago. Bell reached that to­tal by the end of the third quar­ter.

The Dol­phins tried to hype them­selves up by run­ning around in shirt sleeves in the sin­gle-digit wind chill dur­ing warmups. Steel­ers line­backer Ryan Shazier did them one bet­ter, rac­ing around shirt­less — as if to send a mes­sage that his team is plenty com­fort­able play­ing this time of year.

The Steel­ers scored on their first three pos­ses­sions, and Mi­ami’s playoff vic­tory drought was well on its way to 17 years and count­ing. Mi­ami run­ning back Jay Ajayi man­aged just 33 yards on 16 car­ries, or 171 yards fewer than he piled up against Pitts­burgh in Oc­to­ber.


Steel­ers run­ning back Le’Veon Bell (26) rushed for 167 yards against the Dol­phins on Sunday.

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