Lost in the loss was a solid performance by rookie Le'Veon Bell

Jamie McDonald

Le'Veon Bell's rookie debut was pretty solid, but more than anything, he shows a new dimension the Steelers offense may be able to unleash after the bye week.

Le'Veon Bell didn't quite do enough to merit a "Winner" designation. But as far as the bigger picture is concerned, the Steelers rookie helped shine a dwindling light of optimism on a downtrodden and defeated team.

Bell's 84 total yards and two touchdowns were more the result of just a few plays, and he had at least that many zero and negative plays, from a yards gained perspective. But two plays he made, one on a touchdown run around the right side and the other after making a catch and cutting back inside were things of beauty.

And that was his first game after missing five weeks with an injury. Imagine where he'll be when he gets up to speed, so to speak.

The Steelers' offensive production is leaps and bounds better than it was when the season started, much to the dismay of the pitchfork-carrying and torch-holding anti-fans of offensive coordinator Todd Haley. And with Bell getting 16 carries - the most since Jonathan Dwyer in Week 13 of 2012 against Baltimore - it seems like Bell will become a bigger and bigger component of this offense.

That very well may be a key piece to the Steelers' early offensive woes. They haven't had a 100-yard rusher since Week 9 of 2012 (Isaac Redman, who was deactivated Sunday against Minnesota), and even then, neither Redman nor Dwyer showed the kind of open space quickness Bell did in his 20 touches.

Winning and losing is all that matters, but if nothing else, the Steelers offense could have hit its basement already this season, and with Bell (and hopefully a less turnover-prone Ben Roethlisberger and better protection), this team could be a considerably stronger offensive team when it comes off its bye in Week 5 to face the New York Jets.

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