Le'Veon Bell built for Steelers-Ravens rivalry

PITTSBURGH -- The rivalry that consistently produces the most physical games has been particularly hard on Pittsburgh Steelers running backs.

Willie Parker averaged 4.3 yards per carry during his career but just 2.96 yards per carry against the Ravens. Rashard Mendenhall's rookie season in 2008 ended after Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis broke his shoulder blade.

And then there is Le'Veon Bell.

His most recent carry against the Ravens is one the 6-foot-1, 244-pounder doesn't even remember.

It came near the end of a typical Ravens-Steelers game last Thanksgiving night. Bell bounced a run from the Ravens' 3-yard line outside and then cut inside. He dove as he neared the goal-line and a violent collision caused Bell's helmet to pop off.

It also left Bell out cold after a touchdown that was ruled down inside the 1-yard line after an official review.

“I just remember seeing him after the game trying to tell him what happened and he was a little dazed and confused about where he was,” Steelers fullback Will Johnson said.

Here are two things that make Bell built for the Steelers-Ravens rivalry: He actually tried to go back into the game after his touchdown was overturned and he won't hesitate to use any means possible to get into the end zone on Thursday night.

“If I was in the same situation I would do the same things again for my team,” Bell said. “That's what we needed. It didn't change the way I run or think about football.”

That is good news for the Steelers, especially since Bell is one of the few running backs who has had success for them running the ball against the Ravens over the last decade.

Bell rushed for 166 yards in two games against the Ravens last season and averaged 4.7 yards per carry. The 2013 second-round pick also caught eight passes for 69 yards.

“Gosh he's just such a hard guy to tackle and you sure appreciate the way they spread out the field and drop him the ball in there on those runs and even screens and use that big offensive line,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “I thought really highly of him in the draft. He looks stronger but lighter and quicker (this season) and looks really good.”