New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell couldn’t help but admit that Sunday’s win over his former employer was a bit special.
In the build-up to Sunday’s win over his former comrades, New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell insisted that the contest was nothing personal. Nonetheless, Bell had to admit in the aftermath that the showdown meant just a little more.
“Obviously every win feels great but this one had a little extra topping on it,” Bell said with a smile.
The rusher did immediately follow up with the sense of professionalism he’s carried all season.
“It was fun going against my old teammates, guys who never could hit me in practice, we had an opportunity to really go at it today, so it was fun,” he said. “I respect all of those guys over there, they play hard, it was tough, obviously Coach [Mike] Tomlin’s game plan, it was great. Credit to those guys, [but] I’m glad we came out on top.”
Bell earned 93 total yards on Sunday. He rushed for 72 yards on 25 carries. Numerical progress continues to elude Bell, as he’s on pace to set a career-low in single-season yardage. Through it all, Bell remains pleased with what the team has been able to do over these final weeks.
The Jets (6-9) have won five of their past seven games. Two have come over Pittsburgh and Oakland, both of whom are still alive in the AFC playoff hunt entering the final week of the regular season.
Sunday’s win dropped the Jets into the 10th slot of the NFL Draft. That doesn’t concern Bell at all though, who believes the strong momentum could translate to success in the future.
“This team is still building and we’re still getting better as a team,” the veteran said. “We’re not going to sit here and lay around and wait for the season to be over, we’re still trying to get better and build for the offseason and years to come. We have a lot of young guys on this team.”
Bell’s teammates were pleased to earn a win in an emotional reunion. The former Pro Bowler is one of several players with former ties to the Steelers. Offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum and defensive lineman Steve McLendon are among them, along with offensive assistant Hines Ward.
“It was really special,” Beachum said. “This guy has put in a lot of work. Things may not have happened the way he wanted them to happen at his departure, but I know he was excited about getting this win today.”
“We definitely wanted to grab that win for [Bell] and Hines and Beach and Steve,” safety Jamal Adams concurred. “There are so many guys in here that were with that group over there and hats off to [the Steelers]. They’re well-coached, a great organization and we have a lot of respect for them.”
Adding to the Bell saga was the infamous drama surrounding his Pittsburgh exit. Steelers players were mum about Bell in postgame interviews. They were more focused on losing control of their playoff destiny.
Postgame video from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero featured Bell sharing pleasantries with his ex-teammates.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490