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Blount puts finishing touch on Steelers win with bruising runs late

With the Steelers in control late, LeGarrette Blount forced his will on the Panthers defense while reinforcing Pittsburgh's dominance throughout the Sunday night game.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Tomlin may have found his closer.

That was the term Bill Cowher used when describing Jerome Bettis' role with the Steelers when the team held the lead late in games. Armed with a late advantage, Cowher would routinely call No. 36's number to grind out yards and secure another victory for the Black and Gold.

That's exactly what LeGarrette Blount did for the Steelers late in last night's 37-19 win at Carolina.

With possession of the ball and a 30-13 lead, Blount spelled Le'Veon Bell and tallied 91 of his 118 yards in the game's final seven minutes on just seven carries. On the play after Ben Roethlisberger completed his last pass of the night (an 11-yard toss to Heath Miller for a first down), Blount gashed Carolina's defense with a 50-yard burst to put Pittsburgh inside the Panthers' 10-yard-line. Blount provided a Bettis-like run two plays later when he steamrolled a Carolina defender into the end zone for Pittsburgh's final touchdown of the night.

But Blount wasn't done punishing the Panthers just yet. On Pittsburgh's final possession of the night, Blount bullied his way for 41 more yards on five carries, including runs of 17 and 19 yards. Among his better runs included a hurdle over Carolina cornerback Antoine Carson that was both impressive and humorous.

Blount's performance last night was exactly what GM Kevin Colbert had in mind when the Steelers acquired Blount in the off-season. While Blount put the finishing touches on the Steelers win, Le'Veon Bell, who gained 147 yards on 21 carries, was staying fresh on the sidelines and gearing up for next Sunday's game against visiting Tampa Bay.

For Roethlisberger, last night's game must have brought flashbacks to his rookie year. In consecutive weeks that season against the Patriots and Eagles, the Steelers held commanding leads before Bettis and the rest of the Steelers' running backs closed out both games in dominating fashion. Pittsburgh tallied 264 rushing yards Sunday night while controlling the ball for a whopping 34 minutes, 39 seconds.

Whether it's 1974, 2004 or 2014, having a dominant running game is a recipe for success and, hopefully, with Bell as the feature back and Blount as the closer, it's one the Steelers will continue to ride as the 2014 season continues.

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