Last week on Christmas Day in the Steel City, the Pittsburgh Steelers rallied from a 20-10 fourth-quarter deficit to win the AFC North and advance to the playoffs. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger led his club to three fourth-quarter touchdowns. Mike Tomlin’s club scored with nine seconds left when wide receiver Antonio Brown caught a short pass inside the one-yard line. He then extended the ball over the goal line for the game-winning score. It was the Steelers’ sixth straight win following a 4-5 start. Is this a team capable of reaching Houston for Super Bowl LI in February?

Ringing their Bell

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell missed the first three games of the season for a second violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

That makes the numbers that he has put up in 12 outings in 2016 all the more impressive. That certainly doesn't condone his actions which caused him to miss the opening weeks of the team’s latest campaign. But offensive coordinator Todd Haley has dialed up the four-year running back early and often the last six games. And this has looked like a different team following that now-forgotten 4-5 start.

In his last six contests, Bell has totaled an impressive 191 touches. That’s 161 rushing attempts and 30 receptions. He’s gained an imposing 1,094 yards from scrimmage, running for 835 yards and totaling another 239 yards receiving. And Bell has scored seven touchdowns in those six contests, including a pair in last week’s 31-27 division title-clinching win over the Baltimore Ravens.

He now ranks second in the NFL with 1,268 yards on the ground. And only two players in the league have gained more yards from scrimmage than Bell (1,884) this season.

Defensive improvements

It is safe to say that this is not a great Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive unit. But it has played much better as of late and deserves a little credit for its recent turnaround.

This is a group that has held four of its last six opponents to fewer than 300 total yards. The team’s pass rush has produced 21 sacks in its last six games after totaling just 13 quarterback traps during the 4-5 start. There’s have been nine takeaways over that span. This happened after Tomlin’s team forced only 10 turnovers in their first nine contests.

Combine the play of Bell, the presence of Roethlisberger and wide receiver Antonio Brown and an improving defense and this could be a very dangerous Steelers’ team over the next few weeks.

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