Le’Veon Bell showed up for work Sunday at MetLife Stadium wearing black pants and a yellow sweatshirt.
The color scheme kind of resembled the Pittsburgh Steelers’ black and gold.
“I wasn’t doing it to be petty or nothing,” Bell said. “I thought it would draw a little attention.”
This wasn’t just another game for the running back. The Jets were facing his old team.
The Steelers held him in relative check — 25 carries for 72 yards, four receptions for 21 yards. But Bell was the happy one in the end because the Green and White beat the Black and Gold, 16-10.
“Obviously, every win feels great, but this one had a little extra topping on it,” Bell said. “It was fun going against my old teammates, guys who really never could hit me in practice.”
Bell played five seasons with those guys, running for more than 1,200 yards three times and making three Pro Bowls. He sat out last season over a contract dispute, then took the handoff on a four-year, $52.5 million deal from the Jets.
“He did a really good job this week of kind of staying level,” Jets coach Adam Gase said. “Just focused on what he had to do.”
Fans in Steelers jerseys were everywhere. They waved their “Terrible Towels” at every big moment. MetLife Stadium could’ve passed for Heinz Field.
“They didn’t boo me or anything like that,” Bell said. “They showed a lot of love when I went out there. It was green and white cheering for me. It was yellow and black cheering for me, too. I was signing all the [No.] 26 jerseys that I seen, whether it was Jets or Steelers.
“It was fun playing here and hearing everything like it was kind of an away game.”
Bell also had a chance to talk to his former coach, Mike Tomlin.
“He showed respect, showed love,” Bell said. “I understand how everything went on. It obviously wasn’t his fault. But he respects me and I respect him. He did a great job of containing me.”
But when Steelers defensive tackle Cameron Heyward was asked how Pittsburgh did against Bell, he said: “Not enough. They won the game.”
Bell hasn’t had a big first year with the Jets. He has 61 receptions but has run for only 3.3 yards per carry and 748 yards.
Bell has craved more carries, and Gase gave him his highest total of the season. Two were on third downs during the drive to a 42-yard field goal by Sam Ficken and a six-point lead with 3:11 left. Bell rushed for 7 yards and a first down on the first one, then gained 11 yards right before the kick.
“I loved it,” he said of the workload. “It felt good. I’m sore. There is no better feeling. Coach Gase, he told me before the game, ‘I’ve got you today.’ He’s like, ‘I’m making sure you’re going to get that ball today.’ ”