Turns out, there is at least one man in the NFL that Le’Veon Bell can’t evade in the open field: Mike Tomlin. Bell sauntered out of pregame production meetings in a Kansas City hotel last week in his usual sweats, braids woven with the precision of his outside zone runs, when he heard the booming voice of the Pittsburgh Steelers head coach.
“Hey Steph Curry, you better lead us to an NBA championship,” Bell recalls Tomlin saying.
Bell laughed along. He was used to the barbs. Earlier this month, Bell referred to himself as “what Steph Curry is to basketball” in an interview with Bleacher Report. “I think I’m changing the game,” he said, with a patient running style that could influence young players, just as Curry perfected (and popularized) the deep 3.
In truth, Tomlin simply delivered a clever line. But Bell’s mind quickly parachuted into deeper thought. Tomlin’s words, to Bell, were a friendly challenge: Trend-setting is great. Title-winning is better. Let’s go win a championship.
“I was like, ‘You know, yeah, let’s do it!'” Bell realized.
A day later, Bell went off for 170 yards in Kansas City.
Quinn has to coach this game against the Packers with a specific scoring environment in mind. The Falcons-Packers game has a Vegas point total of 61, projecting it to be the highest-scoring playoff game and the second-highest scoring NFL game since 1978. With that in mind, Quinn can’t settle for field goals, and he can’t be excessively concerned about field position. In a game in which teams should be able to move the ball 30 yards in the blink of an eye, possession (not field position) is king.