Going into Sunday afternoon’s matchup with the Miami Dolphins, the Pittsburgh Steelers had only won one playoff game in the last five years. They got back on the winning side of things in large part to the “Three B’s,” who did a lot to push Pittsburgh to a divisional round game against Kansas City.
Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Playoffs: These Three B’s Have A Mighty Sting
The trio of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown, and running back Le’Veon Bell did all the necessary things and more to defeat a 10-6 Dolphins team who had been an underdog already facing injuries to multiple starters on both sides of the ball. The Steelers’ “Three B’s” did a lot to push Pittsburgh to a second round meeting with Kansas City.
‘Big Ben’ and Antonio Brown Set The Tone
The first drive was quite simply a prelude to what was going to happen over the course of the game.
Only a few plays from scrimmage and Roethlisberger had already been torturing a Dolphins team that looked like a fish out of water in the cold temperatures.
The Steelers called a screen play to Antonio Brown on first and ten, only their fifth play from scrimmage, and he took it to the house from mid-field. A beautifully executed play where tight end Jesse James blocked the opposing Dolphins player allowed for a seam that Brown exploited along the sidelines.
The Steelers went back to Brown on the next drive. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
This time, a second and seven on their sixth play from scrimmage, Roethlisberger found Brown streaking across the field and connected on a short pass that Brown turned into a 62-yard touchdown after making a few defensive backs miss. It was a thing of beauty.
When the half was over, Brown was at 119 yards and two touchdowns. Roethlisberger had been a perfect 10-10 passing.
The Le’Veon Bell Show
Just as it seemed over the Steelers’ seven-game winning streak heading into the playoffs, the young Michigan State product Le’Veon Bell was going to get his touches. It was just a matter of when.
That “when” ended up being the second half.
Finishing the game with a Steelers playoff franchise record 167 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries, Bell seemed ready to feast upon a Dolphins defense that was 30th in stopping the run game this season. The task for them seemed daunting. Bell knew they’d be on their heels and he took immediate advantage of that when his number was called for the vast majority of the second half.
He was called upon so often that he only conceded two carries to backup running back DeAngelo Williams despite the blowout.
The Task At Hand Going Forward
Obviously, the Dolphins were pretty significant underdogs going into this game. The Steelers potent offense was bound to do what they did if their three marquee names played at even their minimum capacity. So how good do they have to be going forward?
The answer is even better.
Roethlisberger and Brown controlled the first half while Bell picked up his slack in the second. When these three have it all going simultaneously, there may not be a defense in the league capable of stopping them.
They’re in for a much tougher test in Kansas City against the Chiefs next Sunday, though.
Roethlisberger left today’s game with a walking boot on. Despite not even knowing what the injury is, he said he will play on Sunday. The road version of Big Ben this season hasn’t been a pleasant one. He’s going to need to be a starter close to 100 percent as possible against a stingy Kansas City defense that will get tons of pressure on the franchise quarterback.
His two interceptions Sunday were careless ones. The first was a bad throw to Brown. The star wide receiver admittedly could’ve had it but it’s a throw Roethlisberger has to make regardless. The second happened because he held on to the ball too long, was hit as he threw, and subsequently was where he was injured.
He shouldn’t have been in the game anyway. Head coach Mike Tomlin left his starters in longer than needed.
Brown was almost a mere afterthought in the second half. A lot of that had to do with the run heavy offense that the Steelers began running. Some of it had to do with adjustments made during the half that allowed other receivers to open up.
He dropped a short drag route late in the third quarter that didn’t matter in the grand scheme of that game. It will against Kansas City. He also should’ve had the aforementioned pick that Roethlisberger threw but couldn’t haul it in.
Bell’s late season emergence continued into this game and he’s the one guy who can continue to play like himself. He finally got his first taste of playoff football and didn’t disappoint. He had 174 yards from scrimmage which won’t be unattainable next week. It won’t be an easy task either.
Bell, without a doubt, should be in consideration for league MVP just because of how important he was over the Steelers’ seven-game winning streak. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the Steelers don’t make the playoffs without Le’Veon Bell.
The “Three B’s” will need to be great next week. There’s no way around that. With each week, they need to be better than the last. A win against Kansas City would likely get them a rematch with New England, which they will be very ready for. If they make it to the Super Bowl, they will play another elite defense. It’s time that all three make it through the playoffs just once and give the football fans a show they won’t soon forget.