Bell returns to football with TD in Jets' loss

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Playing for the first time in 20 months, running back Le'Veon Bell displayed his old Pittsburgh Steelers form, scoring a touchdown and a two-point conversion in the New York Jets' 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Bell showed his entire skill set, finishing with 92 yards from scrimmage. He rushed 17 times for 60 yards, and he caught six passes for 32 yards. He played every offensive snap -- 67 -- which was impressive when you consider he was held out of the preseason.

"Honestly, it didn't feel like (a long layoff)," Bell said. "It felt, like, normal. I went out there and I played football and I felt good, just being out there and having fun. I still had fun playing the game today. The outcome wasn't what I wanted it to be. I'm a competitive guy, so I'm not happy we lost the game. I was happy I was able to compete again and came out of the game healthy."

The Jets blew a 16-0 lead despite a plus-three turnover margin. The last time that happened in the NFL was 2013, when the Seattle Seahawks rallied to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Bell sparked the lifeless Jets offense in the third quarter, scoring on a 9-yard pass from Sam Darnold. Bell lined up as a wide receiver, split to the left, and he beat linebacker Matt Milano on a corner route to the goal line.

Seconds later, Bell did it again, showing off his ball skills on the two-point conversion. It came on an adlib play, with Darnold eluding pressure. The quarterback scrambled 38 yards behind the line of scrimmage before lofting a pass into the back of the end zone.

Bell, who prides himself on having basketball skills, outjumped safety Siran Neal to give the Jets a 16-0 lead.

"I think he answered all of the questions where everybody said he was rusty after a year off," coach Adam Gase said. "I'm sure he proved a point today."

Bell, 27, who sat out last season because of a contract dispute with the Steelers, told Gase at the start of the practice week that he was ready for a full workload.

"Don't hold back," he told Gase, the playcaller.

He didn't. Bell was the focal point of the running game, as no other back had more than two carries.

The Jets' prized free-agent addition began the day with 7,996 yards from scrimmage. He eclipsed the 8,000-yard mark on his first carry, reaching that plateau faster than any player in NFL history. He did it in 63 games; Eric Dickerson did it in 64.

"All the stats feels good, and I'm sure people are happy for me right now, but I'm not happy with myself right now because we didn't get a W."

Bell was the one of the few offensive bright spots for the Jets, who struggled from start to finish. Darnold (28-for-41, 175 yards) was sacked four times and couldn't get the ball downfield. The offense ran through Bell and Jamison Crowder (14 catches for 99 yards).

The kicking game, too, was a disaster, as new placekicker Kaare Vedvik -- in his NFL debut -- missed a 45-yard field goal and an extra point.

"Offensively, we never really got it clicking outside of one drive," Bell said.