Monday, November 27, 2017

Dual Output Powers Pittsburgh Past Pack

By Eric Goska

The Rams’ Tom Wilson and Bob Boyd were one of just
three duos to gain more yards at the expense of the Packers
than Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown did Sunday night. 

Bob and weave. Thrust and parry. Slash and burn.

How ‘bout Bell and Brown?

Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers formed a memorable pairing Sunday night in Pittsburgh. The two took turns battering the Green Bay Packers’ defense, a one-two punch that never relented.

Powered by Brown and Bell, the Steelers erupted for a season-high 462 yards as they outlasted Green Bay 31-28 at Heinz Field. Every yard was precious in a game that wasn’t decided until a last-second, 53-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.

Bell and Brown boast big numbers. Bell has generated more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage in four of his five NFL seasons. Brown has surpassed 1,000 yards six times in an 8-year career.

In 2015, Brown ranked second in the league with 1,862 yards. Bell wound up second in 2014 (2,215) and third in 2016 (1,884).

Both were at their best against the Packers. Both had plenty left in the fourth quarter.

Green Bay could do little to contain them. So potent was the dynamic duo that they outgained the entire Packers team.

Bell led all runners with 95 yards on 20 carries. He added 88 yards on 12 receptions for a total of 183 yards from scrimmage.

Brown merely fielded passes: short ones, long ones, ones only an acrobat could secure. He caught 10 for 169 yards and two touchdowns.

Together, the two produced 352 yards from scrimmage on 42 plays. That’s prime-time real estate valued at 8.4 yards per touch.

The Packers couldn’t keep pace. Green Bay managed 307 yards on 54 snaps, an average of 5.7 yards per play.

Bell projected positivity. He had four runs of more than 10 yards, and gained at least one yard on all but one of his carries.

Brown aspired to advancement. He had four catches of 20 or more yards, and each of his 10 catches brought a first down.

The two Steelers accounted for 76.2 percent of Pittsburgh’s offensive output. They upped that percentage to 81.6 on the team’s five scoring drives.

So effective were the two that Pittsburgh hardly missed JuJu Smith-Schuster. The rookie receiver sat out with a hamstring injury.

Green Bay, however, could have used Clay Matthews (groin) and Kenny Clark (ankle). Their replacements – Kyle Fackrell (2 tackles) and Quinton Dial (1 assist) – did little to distinguish themselves.

To be fair, the Packers are not alone in having been gashed by Bell and Brown. These gifted athletes have prevailed upon others.

In a 27-20 win over the Bills last season, Bell (298 yards) and Brown (78) carved out 376 yards. Two years earlier, they teamed for 352 yards in a 42-21 victory over the Bengals and combined for 351 in a 3-point loss to the Saints.

Similarly, the Packers have been gouged before. Tom Wilson and Bob Boyd of the Rams (367 yards) in 1956, Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew of the Lions (360) on New Year’s Day 2012, and Jim Spavital and Rip Collins (356) of the Colts in 1950 were three duos who did more damage than Brown and Bell.

In Pittsburgh, Bell and Brown finished strong. The two accounted for all but seven of the Steelers’ 152 yards in the fourth quarter.

Brown caught four passes for 83 yards including a 33-yard grab that put Pittsburgh up 28-21. Bell chipped in 62 yards on nine plays including an 11-yard dash that preceded Brown’s score.

When 17 seconds remained and the Steelers had the ball at their own 30-yard line, to whom did quarterback Ben Roethlisberger turn? Why Brown and Bell, of course.

Roethlisberger fired passes of 23 and 14 yards to Brown. His final throw went to Bell for minus-2 before Boswell stepped in for the winning kick.

The Buddy System
The eight instances in which two teammates combined for 340 or more scrimmage yards in a regular-season game against the Packers.

Yds.     Name                   Yds.      Name                      Yds.      Team         Date
367      Tom Wilson            228      Bob Boyd                 139      Rams          Dec. 16, 1956
360      Calvin Johnson       244      Brandon Pettigrew     116      Lions          Jan. 1, 2012
356      Jim Spavital            253      Rip Collins                 103      Colts          Nov. 5, 1950
352      Le’Veon Bell          183      Antonio Brown          169      Steelers      Nov. 26, 2017
347      Billy Sims               228      Dexter Bussey           119      Lions          Sept. 14, 1980
346      Brian Westbrook    193      Terrell Owens            153      Eagles        Dec. 5, 2004
345      Barry Sanders        198      Herman Moore          147      Lions          Oct. 29, 1995
341      Gene Roberts         253      Bill Swiacki                 88      Giants         Nov. 13, 1949

1 comment:

  1. ...great stuff as always Eric, and of the seven above....3 times the Lions..none by long time rivals Bears & Vikings.