Arguably the best unit for the Patriots this season has been their rushing defense. In the regular season, the Patriots ranked third in the NFL in total rushing yards allowed. Against a talented offensive line and strong running game, the Patriots only allowed 54 rushing yards.
While the Patriots’ rushing defense was great, it has to be noted that Bell was injured in the first quarter. Bell is one of the best running backs in the NFL, and having him in the game would have likely made this a different game to some extent.
In the loss, Bell totaled six carries for 20 rushing yards. His replacement DeAngelo Williams then totaled 34 rushing yards with a rushing touchdown. Williams had one good drive for the Steelers, but the Patriots were able to adjust to his running style compared to Bell’s rather quickly.
With a lead for most of the game and a backup running back in, the Patriots’ rushing defense had a rather easy evening. This is a unit that continues to be underrated, as they are proving to be the backbone of the Patriots’ defense. In the Super Bowl, the Patriots will be challenged by another talented rushing attack. However, there is no reason to believe that they won’t be up for the challenge.