The Pittsburgh Steelers got total revenge on Miami’s Jay Ajayi for his 204-yard rushing day against them in October, and then rubbed it in by utilizing Le’Veon Bell so often and so well that he set a franchise playoff record.
Bell rushed for 167 yards on 29 carries. Franco Harris topped 150 yards a couple of times in playoff games during his Hall of Fame career but that’s all.
Additionally, Bell’s yardage total was the second-highest ever allowed by Miami in the postseason. Denver’s Terrell Davis went for 199 yards in a 1999 Divisional Round blowout of the Dolphins. John Riggins rushed for 166 yards in Washington’s Super Bowl XVII win over Miami.
“Stopping Ajayi was our No. 1 goal,” said Pittsburgh safety Sean Davis, and the Steelers succeeded by limiting Miami’s star back to 33 yards on 16 carries, an average of 2.1 yards per carry.
“We knew what he did to us last game. We had to totally shut him down and we did that.”
Bell’s breakout day was just another facet of Pittsburgh’s domination of the line of scrimmage.
On one 10-play touchdown drive spanning the first and second quarters, the Steelers gave the ball to Bell every time.
“It just kind of happened,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “The first two series we hit them with the passes and (Antonio) Brown struck them pretty quickly. I’m watching them and the safeties are deep the whole time. I’m just thinking Brown is going to scare them. The offensive line wants to run the ball so we went down there and ran the ball into the end zone.
“That’s a lot of credit to other guys like Brown making plays and getting those guys nervous.”
As for the Bud Dupree’s vicious hit on Matt Moore, a helmet-to-helmet shot that drew a roughing-the-passer penalty and laid Miami’s quarterback out for a few minutes, Tomlin said “I’m not getting into that.”