While Antonio Brown has had a mammoth season, the Pittsburgh Steelers loss to the Baltimore Ravens in their AFC Wild Card playoff matchup showed just how important intrepid running back Le'Veon Bell is to the Steelers vaunted offense.
When you lose the second leading rusher in the NFL (Bell racked up 1,361 yards during the regular season) and a guy who caught 83 balls out of the backfield, that type of production is virtually impossible to replace. The Steelers tried to fill the gaping black and gold colored hole that is Bell's absence with a combination of recently signed Ben Tate, Dri Archer and Josh Harris. It didn't go well.
Harris was the leading rusher with just 25 yards, and Tate's struggles in pass protection led to pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and a huge interception by Terrell Suggs (above) when Big Ben had to throw off his back foot. In all, the three backs combined for just 40 yards. The running game was so bad that Hines Ward exclaimed at halftime that the Steelers should abandon it all together.
The non-existent ground game game forced Roesthlisberger to throw 45 times, leading to two interceptions. And though Brown racked up 117 receiving yards, he was (just barely) kept out of the end zone and was held without a second half catch until early in the fourth quarter.
So the Steelers head back to their couches while Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco morphed back into ELITE PLAYOFF QUARTERBACK and will head to Foxboro to take on the New England Patriots next weekend.