Suffering through a groin injury that limited his production, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell put up just six attempts for 20 yards in January’s AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots.
It came in the midst of a 36-17 Patriots win that ultimately led to the team winning its fifth Super Bowl of the Tom Brady era.
Now, months removed from the blowout loss, Bell himself believes that things would have been different if he were healthy for the game.
“I think we beat them,” Bell said Friday on ESPN’s First Take (h/t NFL.com). “When I was out there, I wasn’t feeling well at all. The fact I was out there (early in the game), their game plan was so different just because of the fact I was out there.”
That’s all find and dandy. But the Patriots won by 19 points while putting up 26 first downs and 431 total yards of offense. Unless Bell somehow found a way to play on defense, the outcome of the game likely wouldn’t have changed.
Bell was coming off a two-game stretch in the playoffs that saw him put up 337 rushing yards. He likely would have made the game closer with his mere presence. After all, Pittsburgh finished the game with just 54 rushing yards.
This doesn’t mean that he would have magically helped Pittsburgh overcome the high-powered Patriots. That’s just absurd.