PITTSBURGH – Le'Veon Bell spent the past two Januarys watching helplessly while the Pittsburgh Steelers tried to make a deep postseason run without him. The ever-fluid running back made up for lost time Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
So did Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, the other members of Pittsburgh's "Big Three" together in the playoffs for the first time.
Pounding away relentless at a defense that hardly seemed interested in stopping him at frigid Heinz Field, Bell ran for a franchise postseason record 167 yards and two scores in a 30-12 victory Sunday over the beaten-up and mistake-prone Miami Dolphins.
Bell, Brown and Roethlisberger, who wore a walking boot on his right foot afterward, more than wiped away the bitter aftertaste of a 30-15 whipping at the hands of the Dolphins in mid-October. The Steelers (12-5) led by two touchdowns before the game was 10 minutes old on long touchdown passes from Roethlisberger to Brown. Miami never got closer than 11.
"Le'Veon was beastly," said Brown, who finished with five receptions for 124 yards and the two scores. "All day, controlling the line of scrimmage, just running guys over and finding a way to put the ball in the end zone. Any time he's playing like that, we're going to be a hard team to beat."
Given a chance to prove their first playoff berth in eight years wasn't a fluke despite being outgained and outscored during the regular season, Miami (10-7) never found a rhythm.
The problem wasn't the biting wind chill or a vicious hit absorbed by quarterback Matt Moore in the second quarter as much as it was the Steelers.
Pittsburgh sacked Moore five times, forced turnovers on three consecutive possessions in the middle of the game, and never really let the Dolphins up off the deck.
"It's hard to win when you turn the ball over," said Moore, completed 29 of 36 passes for 289 yards with a touchdown and an interception. "In the playoffs, you can't make mistakes and that's on me."
Pittsburgh (12-5) ran off its eighth consecutive victory and will play at AFC West champion Kansas City (12-4) next Sunday. The Steelers rolled by the Chiefs 43-14 on Oct. 2.
"We have to understand the same passion and dedication that we put in this week to beat Miami, that's how Kansas City is going to try to beat us," Bell said.
Bell, who made his playoff debut after missing the playoffs each of the past two postseasons because of knee injuries, broke Hall of Famer Franco Harris' team mark for yards rushing in a playoff game. Harris ran for 158 yards in a Super Bowl win over the Vikings 42 years ago. Bell reached that total by the end of the third quarter.
Miami running back Jay Ajayi gained only 33 yards on 16 carries, or 171 fewer yards than he piled up against Pittsburgh in October.