The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Buffalo Bills 38-7 Saturday night and below are my notes from the first half.
- The first drop by Antonio Brown was merely him taking his eyes off of the ball too quick.
- The first sack saw Kyle Williams swim past the left hip of Willie Colon to get the pressure. Mario Williams got the sack after Isaac Redman released to go out in the right flat as an outlet.
- LaMarr Woodley almost had an interception of a tipped ball by either Ziggy Hood or Larry Foote. Lawrence Timmons had heavy pressure on Ryan Fitzpatrick on a delayed blitz on the play. Woodley was hit by Donald Jones on the play, but he had already bobbled it.
- Woodley gave away the edge on the first big run by the Bills. On the big pass play to David Nelson, Troy Polamalu had to go around Ryan Clark as Nelson slanted inside Clark who was playing the run. Polamalu rebounded on the next play with a pass breakup in the right corner of the endzone. On the Fred Jackson touchdown run, Sean Spence missed an easy tackle that would have stopped him way short.
- Great block by Will Johnson on his first big run of the night that also included nice blocks by both Heath Miller and Colon. The run was called back because of a hold by Maurkice Pouncey, who hooked the leg of K. Williams for the takedown.
- The second drop by Brown I think was because he peeked at a hit coming. He had beat Aaron Williams inside on the slant.
- The overturned touchback was the right call as Curtis Brown did touch the ball with a foot on the goal-line.
- Hood had a batted down pass on the Bills ensuing drive as he got his left arm up in the passing lane. On the very next play Hood got a knockdown of Fitzpatrick on a twist ran behind Cameron Heyward. Brown had tight coverage on the play as the Steelers
used 4 cornerbacks in press man coverage on defense as Clark was taken out. It looked like they might have been in Cover-1 with only Polamalu deep. This might have been used to prepare for the Denver game as Clark will sit that game out. It was the first time this presseason that we have seen that sub package used. I went back through it again and it was Timmons off the field and not Clark, so the Steelers were indeed in the DIME.
- On the 3rd and short run to the left on the drive that followed, Ramon Foster had a bury on the right defensive end on a trap block.
- On the deep ball to Emmanuel Sanders it went right throw his hands. It was a great throw by Ben Roethlisberger.
- Woodley almost had another interception on the first play of the second quarter as he showed rush by dropped in to zone. On the next play Chris Carter got the sack as he twisted inside and Heyward pushed the pocket into the lap of Fitzpatrick. On the very next play it was Heyward again with the pressure up the middle that forced an early throw that landed incomplete.
- The block in the back penalty was a joke, but at least they eventually got the call right and picked up the flag.
- On the 3rd and 1 stuff of Jonathan Dwyer on the next drive, fullback Will Johnson was stood up in the hole, while Colon failed to control defensive tackle Spencer Johnson, who made the stop.
- Nice job by Timmons punching out the ball from C.J. Spiller and Hood got the fumble recovery.
- Next drive it was Marcus Gilbert that missed cutting off the backside on K. Williams on the failed running play. The touchdown run by Redman was all him even though the left side of the defensive line washed out. Foster gave him a good push, but the power of Redman did it.
- On the sack of Roethlisberger on the next drive, K. Williams had Colon on skates while Marcell Dareus drove Foster back. Both the guards were squeezed so Roethlisberger stepped up into a waiting M. Williams. On the big third down throw to Dwyer, who had a linebacker in coverage, Roethlisberger made a great throw so only Dwyer could adjust to it. That was the key play of the drive easily. Pass protection also was great on the play.
- Dwyer came up big with another catch out of the backfield and made a man miss with a nifty sidestep. Unfortunately he lost his feet and went out short of the first down.
- That long scoring drive showed what a great quarterback Roethlisberger is as it included some pinpoint throws as well as a nifty scramble. He apparently called a lot of his own plays on that drive and was not happy with Todd Haley at the start of it. The touchdown pass to Brown was where only he could catch it and Brown did the rest.
- To summarize the first half, the offense took a while to get into the groove of the game and the run blocking was not very good in the first half. The loss of David DeCastro, which looks to be for the season, is a tough blow, but Foster is going to have to pick up the slack. Max Starks looked to not be trusting his right knee early on, but got more comfortable with it in the second quarter. Overall I thought it was a good first game back for him. The pass protection was pretty solid once the hurry-up offense got into gear. I am glad that that they do not have to play K. Williams each and every week as he is a beast and very disruptive inside.
- The first team defense really calmed down after allowing the first touchdown and the turnovers and pressure were very nice to see. Outside of some missed tackles and a few big plays allowed at the beginning, they played well and that includes Carter and Heyward.
The second half notes will be along shortly.