All the great running backs had a bread-and-butter play.
It looks like Le'Von Bell has found his.
On Sunday, Bell continued his All-Pro season, rambling for 185 yards and two touchdowns, while adding six catches for 50 yards and another score in the Steelers' 42-21 romp over Cincinnati in a pivotal AFC North showdown.
While many facets of his performance, as well as the Steelers overall performance, were impressive, one play from Sunday stood out, and it featured Bell along with his teammates Heath Miller and David DeCastro.
After the Bengals took the second and final lead of the afternoon following Andy Dalton's 81-yard touchdown strike to A.J. Green, Bell responded by erupting for 53 yards through the right side of the Bengals' defense. This run set up the the first three of Pittsburgh's eventual 25 fourth-quarter points. The play was a counter run led by tight end Heath Miller and guard David DeCastro, who together created a sizable running lane for Bell to do his damage.
Five plays later, with the ball in Cincinnati territory following a Bengals' turnover, the Steelers ran the very same play, with Bell again following his convoy of blockers 13 yards to the house to give Pittsburgh the lead for good.
Ahead 35-21 and looking to kayo the Bengals, the Steelers again called on Miller, DeCastro, and Bell to put the game away. The trio happily obliged, with the counter play again resulting in a score, this one from 22 yards out, cementing Pittsburgh's victory.
The counter-run worked with devastating efficiency on Sunday and it reminded me of what the Rams did three decades earlier with Eric Dickerson. Like Bell, Dickerson was also a tall, patient runner who had exceptional vision. The Rams and Dickerson mastered the counter-play, with Dickerson using it early and often on his way to an NFL single-season record of 2,105 rushing yards in 1984.
The play also showcases the versatility of Miller and the evolution of DeCastro as one of the best young linemen in the NFL. While Miller will never be anyone's first tight-end selection for their fantasy football team, his overall ability is one reason he's held in such high regard by the Steelers and their fans. As evidenced by his seven-yard touchdown reception Sunday, he's still one of the best receiving tight ends in the game.
In his third season out of Stanford, DeCastro is among the reasons why the Steelers offense has become one of the most lethal units in the NFL. At only 24-years old, he should just be entering his prime.
Several years ago, the Steelers brass vocally made known their desire for the Steelers' offense to return to their running ways. While Ben Roethlisberger is still passing the ball at an alarming rate, Pittsburgh has indeed returned to their days of having the best rushing attack in the NFL. And now the counter looks like a signature play with which they'll do the most damage.