Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown overcame two early drops on his way to catching 7 balls for 108 yards and 2 touchdowns as the Steelers rolled past the Buffalo Bills 38-7 Saturday night in their third preseason game of the 2012 season.
The win did not come without a cost, however, as the Steelers might have now lost rookie right guard David DeCastro for the season with what head coach Mike Tomlin called a potentially severe right knee injury after the game. DeCastro injured the knee on the Steelers second offensive possession deep in their own end.
The Steelers first round draft pick appeared to have gotten his right leg trapped underneath him as he fell backwards and he was in immediate pain right after hit the ground. The Stanford product was attended to by the Steelers training staff and carted off to the locker room for further examination.
The Steelers offense got off to slow start, as did their defense, but after falling behind 7-0 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Bills running back Fred Jackson with just over 10 minutes to go in the first quarter, it was all Pittsburgh from there on out.
Linebacker Lawrence Timmons started things off by stripping the ball from Bills running back C.J. Spiller with 10:33 left in the half. The ball was recovered by defensive end Ziggy Hood at the Bills 18 yard-line and the offense took advantage of the field position to even the game at 7 on a 2-yard touchdown run by Isaac Redman that capped a 5 play drive.
With under two minutes to go in the first half, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger engineered an 11 play, 98 yard drive that was kept alive by a nice catch by running back Jonathan Dwyer on a 3rd down and 9 play from the Steelers own 3 yard-line. Roethlisberger continued to run the hurry-up offense with authority as he connected on passes to Dwyer, Jerricho Cotchery, Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller to set the Steelers offense up deep inside Bills territory. Roethlisberger capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown to Brown, his first of two on the night, to put the Steelers up by a touchdown.
Roethlisberger was done for the night after that drive and his final stat line was 17-of-24 passing for 169 yards and a touchdown. He was, however, sacked twice during the night.
The Steelers second team offense came out with a bang as backup quarterback Byron Leftwich connected with Brown from 39 yards out just one play after safety Troy Polamalu intercepted a Vince Young pass intended for Bills tight end Dorin Dickerson.
The touchdown from Leftwich to Brown came off of play action that featured Dwyer executing a nice chop block on a Bills defender that was coming free.
Leftwich would add another touchdown pass to wide receiver Derrick Williams early in the 4th quarter following an interception by undrafted free agent safety Robert Golden of a Young pass intended for Bills wide receiver Kamar Aiken.
The Steelers preseason route of the Bills was complete after kicker Danny Hrapmann connected on a 40 yard field goal and rookie running back Chris Rainey bolted 41 yards off right tackle to close out the scoring.
Bills starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was not effective against the Steelers defense after they gained their composer from a slow start and he finished the night 7-of-18 passing for 89 yards and no touchdowns.
The Steelers defense recorded two sacks of their own against the Bills with linebacker Chris Carter and defensive end Corbin Bryant getting the credit. The only moderate success the Bills offense had was on the ground as they rushed for 103 yards on 26 carries.
Rainey led the Steelers in rushing with 41 yards on 3 carries, while running back Tashard Choice led the Bills on the ground with 50 yards rushing on 7 carries.
With the win the Steelers now move to 2-1 on the preseason and they will now prepare to host the Carolina Panthers next Saturday night at Heinz Field to close out the preseason.
The only other injury that Tomlin reported after the game was a high sprain suffered by defensive end Brett Keisel. Tomlin termed it mild in nature and he said that the Steelers starting right defensive end was held out for the rest of the game as a precaution. The hope is that Keisel will be ready to go for the season opener in Denver.