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Le’Veon Bell earns place in Steelers history with game-winning TD

Le’Veon Bell has little to prove.

The Pittsburgh Steelers running back already is the team’s reigning Most Valuable Player and a First Team All-Pro. He owns the franchise’s single-season record for yards from scrimmage.

But on Monday night, he became an immortal part of the Steelers’ storied history.

Bell lifted the Steelers to a dramatic 24-20 road win over the San Diego Chargers with a 1-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat as time ran out.

So far, this is the showpiece of the Le’Veon Collection of dazzling plays Bell has made in his three-year career.

This play could even get a name. Maybe The Wildcat. Or THE wildcat. Not only might the play save the Steelers’ season, it also breathed new life into this languishing gadget play.

And America has a new goal-line play to talk about.

Move over, Malcolm Butler.

Ben Roethlisberger has The Tackle and his game-winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLIII. Troy Polamalu had his pick-six against the Ravens in the 2008 AFC championship game and his strip-sack of Joe Flacco in a 2010 victory at Baltimore that ultimately won the AFC North.

It remains to be seen if Bell’s touchdown will be that historic. It could depend on how the Steelers’ 2015 season turns out. But at the very least Bell has contributed to the Steelers’ list of legendary plays.

ESPN pointed out that it was the first time the Steelers (3-2) won as time ran out since 2009, when Roethlisberger threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Mike Wallace with three seconds left to tie the Green Bay Packers 36-36. Jeff Reed then won the game with the extra point.

Both heart-stopping wins came at pivotal points in the Steelers’ season. That 2009 win ended a five-game losing streak. Monday’s victory was the Steelers’ first with Mike Vick at quarterback. They avoided their first losing streak since 2013, poked their head above .500 and earned their first conference win.

But unlike Wallace’s TD in that 2009 game, Bell’s touchdown didn’t need the extra point to be the game-winner. And while Wallace had to tightrope to keep his feet inbounds, Bell’s touchdown required a little more physical will. Because of where he lined up, he had to cover six actual yards and escape Donald Butler’s tackle attempt before sticking the ball across the plane of the goal line.

Another reason this moment tops the Steelers’ previous non-overtime walk-off touchdown is the sheer riskiness of the play call. This was a trick play with five seconds left and the Steelers down three points. If it didn’t work, Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley would have been vilified for not calling a quarterback sneak or a run up the middle with the ball just inches from the end zone, and it would have been Tomlin’s latest clock-management blunder if the Steelers lost the game with an unused timeout.

Even though Chris Boswell made a 47-yard field goal earlier, one thing the Steelers weren’t going to do was trust a kicker to get them to overtime. As crazy as the play selection was, they learned their lesson from their overtime loss to the Ravens in Week 4 and put the ball in Bell’s hands.

Bell is the guy who has to keep the Steelers afloat during Roethlisberger’s absence. He followed up his 129-yard performance against the Ravens with 111 yards on 21 carries Monday.

The other healthy member of the Steelers’ offensive troika, on the other hand, failed to catch five passes in a game for the first time since 2012. Antonio Brown caught three passes Monday and had just 42 receiving yards against the Ravens, ending his streak of five catches and 50 yards at 35 games. He’s not the same receiver when Vick is throwing the ball.

Brown, however, doesn’t deserve all the blame for his diminished production since Vick replaced Roethlisberger. Vick was atrocious for 52 minutes Monday, completing eight of 18 passes for 87 yards, one interception and two passes that should have been intercepted. The blind squirrel finally found a nut when he hit Markus Wheaton on a 72-yard touchdown pass to tie the game 17-17 with eight minutes left.

Then on the game-winning drive Vick completed five of eight passes for 44 yards. He finally remembered he has legs and scrambled 24 yards on third down to get the Steelers to the Chargers’ 17 with 36 seconds left. He set the stage for Bell’s monumental play by finally thinking to look for Heath Miller and completing a 16-yard pass to the 1-yard line. An unnecessary roughness penalty stopped the clock with five seconds left, enabling the Steelers to keep their final timeout, hold off on the game-tying field-goal attempt and run one more play.

It’s a play that won’t soon be forgotten.

Follow Mike @Steel_Tweets

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1 comment

  1. Colman Duffy

    You are unbeleivable!!!!!!!!!!!! Not only is your commentary disrespectful to Mike Wallace, it is incredibly disrespectful to BIG BEN!!!!!!! that packers game was literally do or die. There was no gray area. If they loose that game they would be mathmaticly eliminated from the playoffs the moment the clock strikes zero!!!!!It was a whole lot more then snapping a five game loosing streak. now I know they ultimitley missed the playoffs, but in that moment, that was LITERALLY!!!!! a season saver. Oh and please stfu about the extra point having to be the game winner. If a kicker misses the extra point in that spot he deserves to be fired on the spot!!!!!!!!!!!!! Even if the extra point is missed the game still would have been tied at 36, so it is still a touchdown with no time left and BIG BEN and 60 MINUTES did all they could to not loose the game. you said that bells touchdown may have saved the season, well the Ben to Wallace touchdown actually saved the season in that moment!!!!! you may want to go back and watch that 2009 play again, I think time is messing with your head:) Also I almost forgot to add that I beleive that was the greatest throw of Bens career, the superbowl pass no doubt ment alot more, but just watch that video and try and find a better throw then that!!!!!!!!! from any QB let alone Big Ben. you mentioned the distance that Bell had to cover, and I would just simply remind you that Mike Wallace had to run a comeback more then 19 yards down the feild, WHICH IS NO EASY TASK!!!!! and Ben had to tight rope the football around 32 yards ACROSS HIS BODY!!!!! in sub freezing Heinz Feild air, when everyone in the stadium knew that he had to throw to the end zone!!!!!!! Lets also not forget that that pass is a bullet and Mike Wallace had to catch it in those conditions while managing to stay in bounds with full control. I have said enough!!!!

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