In their first meeting against the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this season, the Pittsburgh Steelers fell flat in a disappointing 30-9 loss. In that game, the Black & Yellow moved away from their running game headed by Le’Veon Bell, as he recorded just 47 yards on 15 carries in defeat.
With that in mind, the 25-year-old back told reporters on Wednesday that the Steelers will feature a heavy dosage of him in the running game in Sunday’s divisional playoff game, per Ray Fittpaldo of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“We got a little behind the 8-ball when we played them the first time,” Bell said. “We gave them two touchdowns. We didn’t necessarily stick to our game plan. We had to start playing catch-up a little bit so we couldn’t run the ball as much as we wanted to. We’ll see how the game goes. We want to be balanced. We want to beat those guys with run, play-action, drop-back passing, whatever it is and keep those guys off balance.”
The Jaguars possess one of the league’s best defenses, but they have notably struggled against the run this season, ranking 21st in that category with 116.3 rushing yards allowed per game. Bell figured to be used early and often on Sunday to help set the tone for the Steelers’ offense, especially with Ben Roethlisberger coming off a career-high five interceptions in their Week 5 meeting against the Jags. Two of those picks were returned for touchdowns.
Jacksonville arguably has the best secondary in the league, led by dynamic cornerbacks A.J. Bouye and Jaylen Ramsey. Implementing the running game effectively is key for the Steelers to get going offensively against the Jaguars’ stout defense.
It also helps that the Steelers arguably have the best running back in the league who is coming another highly productive campaign. Bell finished the 2017 season third in rushing yards with 1,291 while scoring nine touchdowns on the ground. He was equally impactful as a receiver, leading all running backs with a career-high 85 catches for 655 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.