Le’Veon Bell said that he has been dealing with his groin injury for weeks until it flared up in the AFC Championship Game. Bell was noticeably not himself following his second carry of Sunday’s game, and was inactive for most of the final three quarters in Pittsburgh’s 36-17 loss to the Patriots.
Bell, who finished with just 20 yards on six carries, opened up about his injury after the game with ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
“I had no burst anymore,” Bell said. “I felt like I was holding the team back (when he was on the field). It’s real disappointing. We work so hard to get here. I felt like I had done a lot to help us get here. To not play and not go to battle with my teammates, it hurt.”
After exciting the game near the end of the first quarter, Bell took himself out of the game for good after a 2-yard run at the start of the second quarter.
“There was a nice seam, I just felt like I couldn’t get there,” he said.
Mike Tomlin alluded to Bell’s injury two weeks ago, stating that his running back was dealing with “bumps and bruises” after receiving 31 total touches in Pittsburgh’s wild card victory over the Dolphins. Bell was given Wednesday off the week leading up to Sunday’s divisional round game against the Chiefs, as Bell responded with 170 yards in the Steelers’ 18-16 victory.
Bell was again given Wednesday off last week, and missed Thursday’s practice as well for personal reasons.
While he didn’t use Bell’s absence as an excuse, Tomlin said that the team’s offensive game plan shifted dramatically without having No.26 on the field for the majority of Sunday’s game.
“No question (Bell’s absence changed the team’s game plan), but like I said, injuries are part of the game,” Tomlin said. “We didn’t do a good enough job or a quick enough job of adapting to the circumstance.”