Le'Veon Bell's ascension continues.
On Friday, the second year running back was named most valuable player or the AFC North division by ESPN writers who cover the Steelers, Bengals, Browns and Ravens.
Bell's 2,215 scrimmage yards were a franchise record, 42 shy of the NFL lead this season, and he became only the second player in league history to finish a reason with at least 1,300 rushing yards and 850 receiving yards, joining Hall of Fame RB Marshall Faulk.
While Bell's numbers paint an accurate picture of the All-Pro's dominance, it's Bell's mastery of each of the three facets of the running back position that point towards his production.
"The things that he can do in all three phases of the game to run, to catch the ball, and to block are some of the most special things I've ever seen a running back do," said Ben Roethlisberger, who finished second to Bell in MVP voting.
An injury in the final game of the season, an AFC North-clinching victory over Cincinnati, cost Bell his first career playoff game. In fact, the missed game against the Ravens in the Wildcard round demonstrates Bell's value just as much as the gaudy statistics or high praise from Roethlisberger. The Steelers allowed five sacks to a ferocious Baltimore pass rush, while the team's 68 rushing yards was one of their lowest totals of the season. Bell's dual threat offensive abilities and proficiency as a blocker led many Steelers fans to believe Bell's absence potentially cost the team an opportunity for a Super Bowl run.
Fortunately, Bell enters next season as a spry 23-year old who is considered one of the league's best players. He will be afforded plenty of chances to contribute to his already sky-high value, as well as establish new benchmarks for his bright career.
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