Bengals rookie running back Joe Mixon was understandably frustrated following the team's loss last week against the divisional rival Steelers. Mixon rushed for 48 yards on seven carries during the Bengals' first three drives but didn't touch the ball again over the team's final eight drives.
Meanwhile, Mixon's counterpart, Le'Veon Bell, finished with with 134 rushing yards and and 58 receiving yards.
"Yeah, that's frustrating," Mixon said after the 29-14 loss, via the Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner. "I felt like Bell got the ball 35 times. I get it seven. All in the first half then don't touch the ball again. Jeremy [Hill] got one touch in the second half. It was frustrating to us running backs. We are in the room and feel like we are a part of the offense. If it worked in the first half why not do it in the second?"
Mixon is the Bengals' best running back, better than Jeremy Hill or Giovani Bernard. And while he entered Sunday's game leading the team in carries (74) and yards (235), he's nowhere close to putting up numbers like Bell, who has 169 carries for 684 yards. And in Mixon's mind, that's the point.
"Me personally, I feel like I can do way more than [Bell] did. Like I said, I only had seven carries. I can't showcase nothing if I don't get the ball. There's nothing else I can say," Mixon said.
A week later, and the Bengals are hosting the Colts. Early in the third quarter, Mixon had 14 rushing yards on seven carries and another 83 receiving yards on two catches. The highlight was this 67-yard catch-and run midway through the second quarter:
SO. CLOSE.@Joe_MainMixon catches the screen pass and takes it 67 yds 🏃💨#INDvsCIN #Bengals50 pic.twitter.com/5PgE8bkRxj— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) October 29, 2017
Pay special attention to Mixon wearing an arm sleeve on just his left arm, the mismatched gloves and the first-down ball drop. Why? Because none of these things went unnoticed by Bell, who didn't name names but gave an obvious clue about his who he was talking about with the "... for someone who feels they can do 'way more' than I can..." line.
Le'Veon Bell apparently has a message for Joe Mixon pic.twitter.com/Q9weJzzDWY— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) October 29, 2017
In Mixon's defense, when he says, "I feel like I can do way more than [Bell] did," we think he means in the context of the Bengals' offense if he's given a chance. Even still, coach Marvin Lewis doesn't want to hear it.
"You should show maturity just like everybody else. Everybody wants to be out there all the time," Lewis told reporters last week. "But we're not going to create a run when we are down by 12 or 15 [points]. We're not going to create it.
"I saw a ball go on the ground when he received two balls thrown to him, which are the same situation. We got to handle it all the time the correct way, and be strong enough to not be led into questions after the game, which unfortunately he doesn't know enough about."
If it's any consolation, Bell's had to be patient this season. He had 15 or fewer carries in three of the Steelers' first five games, two of which were losses. In the last two games -- which coincides with the Steelers' two best performances of the year -- Bell has averaged 33.5 carries and 4.7 yards per carry.