<
>

Season-shaping plays: Le'Veon Bell's stretch helps Steelers stave off upset bid

This is the 11th in a series that looks at 17 plays that shaped the Pittsburgh Steelers' season -- one from every game.

For this series we will go in chronological order.

No. 1: Running back Le'Veon Bell's 38-yard touchdown run in a 30-27 win over the Cleveland Browns.

No, 2: Wide receiver Justin Brown's lost fumble after a 6-yard reception in a 26-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

No. 3: Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones' sack of quarterback Cam Newton for an 8-yard loss in a 37-19 win over the Carolina Panthers.

No. 4: Wide receiver Antonio Brown's drop of a sure touchdown pass in a 27-24 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

No. 5: Cornerback Brice McCain's 21-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 17-9 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

No. 6: Cornerback Cortez Allen getting beat for a 51-yard touchdown catch by Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron.

No. 7: Le'Veon Bell's 43-yard reception in a 30-23 win over the Houston Texans.

No. 8: Cornerback William Gay's 33-yard interception return for a touchdown in a 51-34 win over the Indianapolis Colts.

No. 9: Wide receiver Markus Wheaton's 47-yard touchdown catch in a 43-23 win over the Baltimore Ravens.

No. 10: Ben Roethlisberger's rare and untimely interception in a 20-13 loss to the New York Jets.

No. 11: Le'Veon Bell stretches for a critical touchdown against the Tennessee Titans on the way to a career game.

The setting: The Steelers, coming off an unseemly loss to the New York Jets, looked like they were in trouble against another bad team when the upstart Tennessee Titans took a 24-13 lead late in the third quarter. Bell took over the game with the Steelers at a crossroads, ripping off runs of 27 and 11 yards to help move the offense to the Titans' 5-yard line.

The play: On first down, Bell took a handoff from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and bounced left where tackle Kelvin Beachum and guard Ramon Foster had crashed in the Titans' defensive line. Bell got to the 2-yard line, and with safety George Wilson hanging onto his legs and linebacker Avery Williamson riding his back he stretched just enough to place the ball on the goal line. The 5-yard touchdown run, which came on the first play of the fourth quarter, held up after an official review.

What it meant for the bigger picture: Bell rushed for a career-high 204 yards and the Steelers rallied for a 27-24 win behind the second-year man and a punishing offensive line. Bell and backup LeGarrette Blount celebrated together after the former's touchdown run was upheld and Bell mimicked taking a selfie of the two on the Steelers' sidelines. Blount's mood, however, soured shortly after that. Blount became so frustrated by not getting a carry against the Titans that he left the sidelines before the end of the game. It left the Steelers little choice but to cut ties with Blount, which they did the following day when they waived the fifth-year veteran. Blount re-signed with the New England Patriots and will play in the Super Bowl next Sunday. The Steelers lost in the wild-card round of the playoffs in large part because they did not have Bell, who did not play against the Baltimore Ravens due to a hyperextended knee.