Pittsburgh Steelers: Buffalo’d In New York


As the Buffalo Bill crushed the Pittsburgh Steelers 43-19 last Saturday in upstate New York, Steelers fans can take consolation in knowing that the Steelers defense that was on the field in the third and fourth quarters won’t be the same defense that Keith Butler has in the lineup when the season begins in New England on September 10.

More from Ben Roethlisberger

What was surprising about Pittsburgh’s fourth pre-season game was how little Ben Roethlisberger and most of the starting offense played. Big Ben played just a small part of the first quarter and was pulled in favor of the newest Steeler, Michael Vick. For those who didn’t want Vick to be a member of the Black and Gold, he may have quickly changed opinions with his 63-yard bomb to Martavis Bryant.

Showing very little effort to throw the ball, Vick’s arm strength was on full display with just a flick of his wrist. Early on, the Steelers’s defense showed signs of difficulty stopping the running game when Buffalo’s Fred Jackson rumbled 41 yards to the end zone and the game’s first score. On that play, William Gay got pancaked, leading the way to Jackson’s romp.

The game was a see-saw battle throughout the first half with the leads exchanging hands several times before Buffalo kicked a field goal to go into the locker room at the half leading 23-19. Those 19 first half points would be the last scores by Pittsburgh for the rest of the game.

“We continue to be slow-starters, and that’s disturbing” Mike Tomlin

The third and fourth quarters for the Steelers became a nightmare as the Bills used three different quarterbacks to pick apart the next levels of Pittsburgh’s defense for 20 unanswered points. New Buffalo head coach Rex Ryan surely has a quarterback controversy on his hands as it appears EJ Manuel would be the choice as the starting QB, but after the performances of Tyrod Taylor, Matt Cassell, and even the man last on the depth chart, Matt Simms, Ryan has a very difficult decision to make next week.

Manuel, if he is to be the starter, began the game and came back onto the field of play in the fourth quarter, long after the starters for both teams had taken off their shoulder pads. Buffalo’s heir apparent at QB missed on just one of eight passes while throwing for 170 yards, two touchdowns, and had a rating of 158.3.

Not to be outdone, Taylor, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, also nearly completed all his passes (12 of 13) that were good for 122 yards. Taylor also showed great scrambling ability when he ran 20 yards for a touchdown. Buffalo’s combination of four quarterbacks simply had their way with Pittsburgh’s makeshift defense.

In looking at the final stats, Buffalo embarrassed Pittsburgh by putting up 542 offensive yards while Pittsburgh could only manage 229. For those players who relieved the Steelers first-team defense, they should have been playing for a final roster spot with the NFL’s first mandatory roster cuts coming by 4:00 on Tuesday, September 1. On that day, teams will be required to reduce their depth charts to a total of 75 players.

Leading up to Tuesday, the Steelers have 90 players on their roster not including those who have been placed on injured reserve. In just a few days time, 15 players are going to be looking for new teams. After their performance last Saturday, Kevin Fogg, Jordan Sullen, Alden Darby, Jordan Dangerfield, L.T. Walton, Shayon Green, and Braylon Heard will most likely be among those first cuts.

On September 5, five days before the Steelers’ season opener, NFL teams will have to reduce their rosters to the league minimum of 53. A day later they can assign 10 players who were cut to the practice squad.

By next weekend, there will be 37 fewer members of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The starting lineups are set, many of the backups are secure in their roles, so decisions on who will be third and fourth on the depth chart are yet to come. Rest assured, pre-season or not, Mike Tomlin could not have been happy with the results in Buffalo. As it is with every game, Tomlin faced the media shortly after the final gun sounded. Some of what he said to open the presser was:

“It was obviously not the outcome we were looking for. Usually I reserve judgment until we watch the tape, but it doesn’t require a lot of tape-study to analyze some of the things that were issues in that performance. We continue to be slow-starters, and that’s disturbing. Some of our young guys who pushed through this game, who are quite frankly fighting for jobs, did not execute without enough detail to be in consideration. And that’s disappointing.”

The remainder of his commentary as well as some remarks from players can be read on the Steelers’ official web site. Despite the point differential and one-sided stats, there were some positives to be taken from the loss to the Bills with one large negative. With Shaun Suisham shelved for the season with a knee injury, Garrett Hartley who had beat out two other kickers for the replacement duties, pulled a hamstring last Saturday and has already been declared out for the season opener.

When he left the game, punter Jordan Berry took over for Hartley but only had to conduct kickoffs. In fact, on one fourth down play in field goal range, Mike Tomlin opted to not even given Berry a chance at a three-point try and instead tried to convert on fourth and long which failed. But in performing kickoffs, Berry did quite well. This probably means that the search is probably already in for yet another kicker. That is unless Berry is given a crash course in kicking field goals or the decision is made to seek out another veteran who may come in for just one game or send Hartley back to the unemployment line.

Live Feed

Buccaneers vs. Packers prediction, odds, spread, injuries, trends for NFL Week 15
Buccaneers vs. Packers prediction, odds, spread, injuries, trends for NFL Week 15 /

Lombardi Ave

  • 2024 NFL Draft order: How high the Chargers can climb after Justin Herbert's injuryBolt Beat
  • The not so secret stat that is determining the outcome of Colts gamesHorseshoe Heroes
  • Packers release Kyu Blu Kelly from 53-man, sign WR Thyrick Pitts to practice squadDairyland Express
  • Why are the Steelers playing on Saturday this week?Still Curtain
  • Texans vs. Titans prediction, odds, spread, injuries, trends for NFL Week 15Titan Sized
  • Staying with the topic of Jordan Berry, he was one of the game’s positives. Berry is battling incumbent Brad Wing for the starting punter role and the competition thus far has been neck-and-neck. In Buffalo, Berry had four punts and averaged a hefty 58.2 yards per. He was helped by a booming 78-yard punt. #9, who was serving as the Wing man for the day, only received two opportunities but still averaged 47 yards per punt. Wing’s long came at 53 yards but unlike Berry, neither of the two kicks landed inside the 20 or for a touchback.

    Another big positive for Pittsburgh last weekend was DeAngelo Williams. The former Carolina Panther standout ran with the ball just three times, but in doing so picked up 15 yards, albeit 14 came on one run alone. But Williams showed solid running and escapability skills so he should fill in nicely for Le’Veon Bell when he serves his two games suspension.

    The third man on the depth chart at running back, Josh Harris was not very impressive, and Dri Archer may be doing just enough to stay on the team for another season.

    On the ground, Archer had two carries for nine yards, and in the air, the second-year player caught one pass for six yards. With Antonio Brown not playing last Saturday, Martavis Bryant came to the forefront and starred in the game against Buffalo.

    Watching him make big plays most likely prompted anger in Steelers Nation towards Bryant for making the mistake of getting busted for smoking pot and looking at a possible four-game suspension. Bryant is such a serious weapon that he could easily have an impact on Pittsburgh’s offensive production if he’s not on the field.

    In  Buffalo, Martavis Bryant caught three big passes for 138 yards, one touchdown, and that beautiful 63-yard pass from Michael Vick. Markus Wheaton added one 20-yard pass play, and Shakim Phillips who has been playing better the last two games hauled in a 16-yarder.

    There probably won’t be room on the roster come opening day, but he may have secured a practice squad spot. DeAngelo Williams showed he is also capable of catching the ball out the backfield with one reception for 10 yards.

    Mike Tomlin told the press his starters did not play long because of the length of this year’s pre-season schedule and more practice time so Ben Roethlisberger  finished this last game with  just four pass attempts completing half for 30 yards. Big Ben did get sacked once. Michael Vick did enough in his short time on the field to prove to at least this writer, that he may be a more viable option to Bruce Gradkowski or Landry Jones for this season and beyond.

    Despite his age  (35), Vick is still more athletic than either Jones or Gradkowski, has a much stronger arm than both, and has plenty more game experience. Vick went out of this last game with four completions on five attempts for 106 yards, and a quarterback rating of 118.8. As for Landry Jones, once again he had to work with the backups but still managed to have a 105.2 rating and connected on seven of 12 for 77 yards.

    Defensively, once the first team left the game, it was all downhill for Pittsburgh. Keep in mind that the Buffalo Bills are no joke. They have a very talented team and will compete in their division in 2015. They have a a very  strong defense and with Fred Jackson leading the way, there was nothing to be ashamed of for the first-team defense at the start of the game. It’s hard to assess the performance of the defense who will be starting on opening day as they have not received ample playing time.

    Steelers fans already know that Arthur Moats, Cam Heyward, Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier,  James Harrison, William Gay, Mike Mitchell, Cortez Allen, and Steve McClendon are going to be the primary players on first-team defense. Mitchell has lots to prove to himself, the coaching staff, and Steelers Nation in 2015.

    Rookie Doran Grant had a bad game in Buffalo and obviously has a lot to learn about the NFL. Ethan Hemer was impressive Saturday and might be a dark horse to make the team’s depth chart at the defensive line.

    Brandon Boykin should make the team at corner simply based on his track record and for his big play ability. Against the Bills, Boykin dropped what would have been a sure pick-six in a ball that was tipped directly into his arms.


    With just one more game in the preseason at home against the Carolina Panthers Thursday night, Mike Tomlin will assuredly hold back starters and use the game as a final decision maker as to who fills the depth chart spots on the roster. That night players at Heinz Field for both teams will be playing for their pro football lives. Next weekend will present a much clearer picture of what the Pittsburgh Steelers roster will look like for 2015.

    Next: Pirates: Looking At Current MLB Power Rankings

    More from City of Champions