If you were someone who watched the first quarter of the Steelers 3rd preseason game against the Bills and then walked away in disgust then you’re probably a tad disappointed to say the least. After a rough start that saw the starters on both offense and defense do absolutely nothing and the Bills go up 7-0, the Steelers turned on the offensive firepower and defensive pressure, rolling past the Bills 38-7. They are now 2-1 in the preseason.
While Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff had to be pleased overall, the game was not without injury problems. Rookie David DeCastro had his knee rolled up on in the endzone after the offense was pinned deep early in the first quarter. He was on the ground for several minutes in obvious pain. The trainers carted him off to the locker room and he was done for the night. The only update came from Mike Tomlin afterwards, calling his right knee injury “potentially serious. He’ll have an MRI on Sunday. According to Ken Laird of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, DeCastro was seen leaving the locker room on crutches and a knee brace. If it is season ending then Ramon Foster will be your starting RG in 2012.
Brett Keisel also left the game early in the first half with a mild high ankle sprain and did not return. He was able to walk off under his own power. Per Mike Tomlin’s post game presser, he said they held out Keisel for precautionary reasons. Isaac Redman also left briefly after the first series when he was shook up. It was fortunately not his groin giving him issues but rather a neck stinger. He was able to return to the game.
As we mentioned, the Steelers first team offense and defense was a disaster in the first quarter and half of play on Saturday night. Ben Roethlisberger’s timing was off with his passes, the receivers were dropping balls, and the blocking was just flat out bad. The Bills drove 49 yds on 5 plays early, going up 7-0 on a Fred Jackson 1 yd run.The starters for Pittsburgh had just 52 yds total in the 1st quarter; 32 passing and 20 on the ground.
That would be the end of the scoring for Buffalo as the Steelers defense turned up the heat , dialing in on Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick’s snap count regularly and completely disrupted the timing for the remainder of the game. It was a joy to watch the pressure consistently get into the Buffalo backfield and the secondary was able to blanket the Bills receivers for most of the game.
Both offenses traded punts and poor play for a couple series in the 2nd quarter and then the Steelers were able to put together a short 5 play, 18 yd TD drive capped off by Isaac Redman’s 2 yd TD run. The Steelers went into a jumbo package for their goal line offense, 3 Tight Ends and Will Johnson at FB. Redman powered into the endzone, dragging Buffalo defenders. That was power football at it’s finest.
After some more good defense and poor offense by both teams, the Steelers put together their best drive of the preseason by far. Staring at their own 2 with 1:33 to go they were able to drive the length of field and take the lead on an Antonio Brown diving TD catch from Ben Roethlisberger. On 3rd and long right up against their own goal line, Ben was able to connect with Jonathan Dwyer down the sideline to get them out of trouble. Todd Haley put the offense into a no huddle mode and Ben went to work completing passes of 16 and 30 yds to Jerricho Cotchery. Heath Miller got the Steelers in the redzone and then Antonio Brown finished it off with a 6 yd TD catch to put the Steelers up for good. That drive was incredibly important for the confidence of the starters and the sanity of both Todd Haley and Mike Tomlin I’m sure.
Roethlisberger – 17/24, 169 yds 1 TD.
Redman – 12/24 1 TD
Brown – 5/47 1 TD
Cotchery – 4/38
Miller – 2/15
Dwyer (receiving)- 2/40
The defensive starters played in the beginning of the 3rd quarter and did not disappoint. Troy Polamalu stepped in front of Vince Young’s pass at the Buffalo 39 and was able to come down with the interception. Byron Leftwich promptly hit Antonio Brown for the 39 yd score and the route was on.
Cortez Allen regularly came off the corner on blitzes, blowing up the timing of Vince Young’s passes and disrupting the Buffalo offense. Chris Carter registered a sack on a shoe string tackle of Young. Carter played the entire game and showed some good pass rush skills and coverage ability.
The backups on defense did have one scare in the 2nd half when they allowed the Bills to put together a drive that lasted for 7:48 but ultimately were able to shut down Buffalo on 4th down at the Pittsburgh 14. Credit again guys like Cortez Allen, Curtis Brown, Adrian Robinson, Chris Carter, and Sean Spence for solid play to stop the drive.
In the 4th quarter the offense added another 17 points to finish out the day. Rookie Derrick Williams had a 10 yd touchdown reception from Leftwich. Daniel Hrapmann booted a 40 yd FG as well, keeping some pressure on veteran Sean Suisham for the Place Kicker job.
Chris Rainey finished off the scoring with a 41 yd sprint to the goal line. Both he and Baron Batch took the majority of the snaps in the 4th quarter, each running hard and Batch especially running with some serious toughness. Rainey finished with 3 rushes for 41 yds and Batch had 7 carries for 33 yds.
Overall, this game was exactly what the coaches needed to see and exactly what the players love to do. Minus that first quarter and half debacle, everything clicked pretty well overall and they can feel pretty good about what they were able to accomplish. As always there’s still work to do and some missed opportunities early but it’s a win with a lot of positives.
-Steelers forced 3 turnovers against the Bills: Lawrence Timmons had forced a fumble that Ziggy Hood recoverd
-Troy Polamalu and Robert Golden each picked off Bills passes to help -put the Steelers offense in good field position
-Derrick Williams and David Gilreath are the clear front runners for the 5th WR spot. Williams had a 10 yd TD reception tonight
-Curtis Brown finished the night as the leading tackler with 6 total.
-Roethlisberger finished 17/24 169 yds 1 TD
-Leftwich finished 5/8 105 yds and 2 TD’s
-Antonio Brown 7/108 yds 2 TD’s