Few NFL rivals possess the degree of dislike that the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers have for each other.
Ravens running back Le’Veon Bell was once on the other side of the rivalry as a star player for the Steelers. Ironically, now he finds himself with the enemy.
Although the two teams aren’t likely to sit down and have dinner together, there is a mutual respect that exists between the two of them.
“Honestly, when I first left [the Steelers], the Ravens were one of the teams I was kind of looking at,” Bell said on Tuesday, November 9, 2021. “Coach Harbaugh, I feel like he’s one of the better coaches in this league. He doesn’t get enough credit for a lot of things that he does and that he’s done around this league.
“I knew what he was about just playing against him a lot. I already knew the type of coach he was and how he goes about his business. Once I got the opportunity to kind of, ‘Oh, I could go play with Coach Harbaugh,’ I got excited. I started getting juiced at the mouth, and I was just ready to go. I’m just glad that I’m here, and I’m ready to make some plays.”
Bell signed with the Ravens in early September after Baltimore’s running back group was decimated by injuries to JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards. He was originally a member of the practice squad before being signed to the active roster on October 19, 2021.
Things are a lot different from the days when Bell was a perennial All-Pro and Pro Bowl player with the Steelers. The last two seasons included stops with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, neither of which yielded any personal accolades for Bell.
Bell raved about how the team welcomed him with open arms. He loves the family atmosphere that exists in Baltimore. It made him feel comfortable and able to settle in as a member of the organization.
Schematically, the Ravens are a fit as well.
“Obviously, this is an AFC North football team. They love running the ball here, and it’s something that I love doing, obviously, being a running back. [It’s] a great opportunity playing with Lamar [Jackson]— he’s a special type of player. So, even being in the backfield with him is just a great opportunity for me.”
So far this season Bell has carried the ball 28 times for 82 yards and two touchdowns. Bell’s most recent game against the Minnesota Vikings is his best game so far after gaining 48 yards on 11 carries.
“Each and every week, he’s been getting better, getting a feel for the game, hitting holes a little harder [and] just picking up first downs, like you said. He just has to keep going. Each and every week, keep getting better. [He has to] keep staying locked into what the play is and keep going from there. He’s doing pretty good, though,” Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson said.
“I think this could be a very special team. I feel like, so far, during this season, we haven’t even played our best football, and we’re sitting at 6-2. That’s the beautiful thing about it,” Bell said. “As we continue to get better over the course of the year, I think the sky is the limit for this team. We have a really special team, and we’re ready to show that.”