Hall of Famer
Bell, Taylor Win Team Awards
On Sunday, Le'Veon Bell will have a chance to break a Steelers rookie record that's stood for 41 years.
And Bell's attempting to do so in fewer games than it took Franco Harris back in 1972.
Bell was named the Steelers' Rookie of the Year on Tuesday by the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of Americaa, for the most part because he's compiled 1,163 yards from scrimmage.
The Steelers' rookie record of 1,235 totals yards from scrimmage set by Harris when NFL teams played only 14 games.
Harris made nine starts and played in all 14 games that season. He rushed for 1,055 yards at a 5.6 clip. He also caught 21 passes for 180 yards and scored a total of 11 touchdowns.
Bell needs only 72 yards rushing and receiving Sunday against the Cleveland Browns to break Harris' rookie record.
"I'm going to definitely go out there this week and do whatever it takes for us to win the game," said Bell. "Hopefully the record comes with it."
In his 12 games this season, all starts, Bell has rushed for 770 yards (3.4 avg.) and caught 44 passes for 393 yards. He's scored seven touchdowns.
Bell was the Steelers' second-round draft pick out of Michigan State, and he missed the first three games of the season with a foot injury. He spent most of the time off in the film room and in his playbook, and "the more and more the season went, the more comfortable I got in the offense."
Bell became so comfortable last Sunday in Green Bay that he posted his first 100-yard rushing game, 124 yards on 26 carries, and he's been over 100 yards total offense in three of the past four games.
Bell also had another first in Green Bay: his first fumble. It gave the Packers the ball at the Pittsburgh 3 from where they scored a touchdown to take a 21-17 lead in the third quarter.
When the Steelers got the ball back, Bell ripped off a 25-yard run that included the hurdling of a Packers defender, something Bell has done a few times this season and in college, but he may never have jumped as high as he did Sunday. It was likely due to his anger over fumbling.
"Yeah, I definitely could sense it," Bell said. "I really wish there was something that could trigger me to get angry like that. Obviously just me fumbling the ball ... definitely got me fired up. If I could trigger that every run, every carry, I definitely would."
Ben Roethlisberger said he worries about Bell hurdling defenders "because all it takes is one guy to stand up on him and who knows what disaster could happen."
"It's not something that I plan on doing," Bell said. "It's not something that I ever think about doing, it just kind of happens. I can kind of sense when guys are about to go for my legs."
Moving forward, Bell said he has "room for improvement. I dropped a lot of balls this year. I can work on just concentrating more."
No one knows more about dropping balls -- and dealing politely with the criticism that comes with it -- than the other Christmas Eve award winner, Ike Taylor.
Taylor was voted the winner of The Chief Award for his "spirit of cooperation with the media."
That relationship with the media got off to a rocky start when a part-time columnist at a Pittsburgh metro newspaper ripped into the late fourth-round selection of Taylor, a raw cornerback out of Louisiana-Lafayette. Taylor hung the column on his refrigerator that April day in 2003.
"It's still there," said Taylor, who recited the meat of the column: "'The worst draft pick in Pittsburgh Steeler history.'
"I still remember that story. I still got it up," he said. "You know, for me, you tell me something I can't do, I'm going to try to do it. That's the competitiveness in me.
"So, yeah, I still got that story. I look at it every day. Every day when I walk past the refrigerator I take a look at it."
Taylor will play in his 169th game as a Steeler on Sunday to move past Terry Bradshaw, Andy Russell and Sam Davis into 16th place on the all-time franchise list.
As a cornerback whose been asked to cover the other team's No. 1 receiver for the past several years, some of those days haven't been easy, yet Taylor has always stood up and answered every question.
"It's kind of facing your fears," he said of facing the media. "After a good game, you can answer all the questions. After a bad game, there's no need to run from questions. So I feel like, 'Hey, man, you might as well get it over with.' It just comes a point through my 11 years, y'all like family."
No one in Pittsburgh, though, has been closer to Taylor than the Chief's son, Dan Rooney.
"That's Pops," Taylor said. "I call Mr. Rooney 'Pops.' You really can't explain it, just something we've got mutually. As soon as I came into the league he took me under his wing and I ran with it. I didn't know it would go this deep, this would take me this far. Like I said I'm honored to have him as one of my bosses, a Hall of Fame owner. I don't know too many players who can call their owners 'Pops.'"
Taylor, 33, described his season this way: "At first I was consistent. I was doing good. I think in the middle of the season (I) got average. And this last month I think I've been stating my case."
And the 14th-ranked defense?
"It's been an up-and-down season and the reason it's been an up-and-down season, we were having a lot of injuries (and) a lot of rookies have been playing on this defense. I haven't seen rookies play this much on defense since I've been here. Usually we don't start rookies, but just under circumstances we had to. So now the young guys are finally settling in, finally jelling, and you're seeing what we can do on defense.
"They're coming along. They're coming on board. They're getting experience. Man, if we can just finish strong. If that door ever opens up for the playoffs, we're going to make a run for it."
• On Sunday, cornerback Ike Taylor will move past Terry Bradshaw, Andy Russell and Sam Davis into 16th place in Steelers history by playing in his 169th game. Among players who came into the league in the past 20 years, only Deshea Townsend and Casey Hampton have played in more games for the Steelers. Taylor had a rough stretch in which he gave up 334 yards receiving in two games, but he allowed the Packers only three catches for 14 yards on the six throws in which he was targeted.
• Taylor and Bell were presented with awards by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pro Football Writers. Bell won the Joe Greene Award as Steelers rookie of the year, and Taylor won the Chief Award, named for Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr., for media cooperation.