Tonight, we are experimenting with some live blogging of the game. Please refresh frequently to get the latest updates on the game. The second half will have its own thread.
The Pittsburgh Steelers failed to score an offensive touchdown in their preseason opener a week ago against the New York Giants. They will be looking to change that this week against the Buffalo Bills, against whom they had to chance to practice this past week.
They enter this game without some key personnel, most notably Jarvis Jones, Will Johnson, and Matt Spaeth. But the Bills will also be without their starting left tackle, which is good news for Chris Carter, who will be replacing Jones, as well as starting cornerback Leodis McKelvin. Former Steelers Doug Legursky and Kraig Urbik are both expected to see time with the Bills’ first-team offensive line as well.
The broadcast just said that the Steelers got “philosophically younger”. I didn’t know that was possible, but okay.
The Bills won the coin toss and elected to receive. Defense out first.
Seems Howard Jones just missed a tackle on the opening kickoff and C.J. Spiller returned the ball to the 38.
Ryan Shazier made his first career tackle on second down, setting up a third and short. It didn’t take him long for tackle number two, but it still gave the Bills a new set of downs.
Former Steeler Frank Summers got the fullback carry and rumbled for a nice gain, and Spiller converted another first down on the next play.
Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel scrambled for five yards on first show, with Shazier escorting him out of bounds. Once again, Shazier was in on yet another tackle on Spiller to set up third down. Manuel’s third-down pass was incomplete to Sammy Watkins, but the Steelers received their first defensive pass interference penalty of the preseason.
In his first action of the preseason, Troy Polamalu engulfed Fred Jackson after a five-yard gain on a short pass. Steve McLendon provided pressure on second down, but the short screen was good for four, setting up third and one. Manuel’s third-down pass was a poor one to Robert Woods, setting up a field goal, with the Bills taking an early 3-0 lead on the opening drive.
Bills receiver Sammy Watkins reportedly has a rib injury.
Shockingly, Dri Archer once again is the recipient of a kickoff out of the back of the end zone. Nobody wants to see him field one, apparently.
Archer did get in on the first play for the Steelers on offense, taking a bubble screen from Ben Roethlisberger, but Markus Wheaton‘s block was underwhelming. Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown in stride cutting across the field on second down for a 76-yard touchdown. I think he could be a keeper.
Shaun Suisham earns the distinction of being the first player to miss the experimental extra point attempt, so the lead is just 6-3. I did not see anything unusual about Brad Wing‘s hold, nor the snap.
Seems Luke Ingram is playing after all.
Shazier was in on the stop on the ensuing kickoff, as well as the first tackle, on which Cam Thomas was the primary. Manuel hit his target for 10 yards and a first down on the next play.
Polamalu Spider Man-ed Spiller after the back initially eluded him to make the tackle after three yards. The Steelers strung the Bills offense out on second down, but Mike Mitchell was flagged for taunting.
Cameron Heyward smothered Jackson on the first play after the foolish penalty for a loss of two. On second down, Shazier jumped in front of a route for an interception and received a chest bump from Joey Porter afterward for his efforts.
Following the turnover, Lance Moore was the recipient of Roethlisberger’s third pass for a gain of six. On second and four, Le’Veon Bell took the draw, but he had nowhere to go. The Steelers got a free play after Mario Williams jumped offside. The result was a first down, but he was hoping for a touchdown.
Bell showed great patience on his second carry of the game, wriggling through defenders for six yards to the Bills’ 20. After an audible, Bell got another carry, burrowing his way for a couple to set up third and short. Bell for one more time, plunging ahead for the first down.
LeGarrette Blount slipped on first down, giving the Bills a chance to pick off Roethlisberger, but no harm was done. On second down, Moore missed his block on a screen to Wheaton, and the play was blown up for a loss, setting up third and 11. Roethlisberger threw a beautiful pass to Wheaton in the far left corner of the end zone for the touchdown. Sorry, Moore, but we’ll do it without you. Great move by the second-year receiver on Stephon Gilmore.
Shazier in on another special teams tackle, I believe.
After a poor pass on first down, Ike Taylor and Arthur Moats hemmed in the Bills’ receiver to set up third and long. Shazier tried to chase down Scott Chandler before he reached the first down, but couldn’t. Mitchell was flagged for defensive holding, but it was declined.
Manuel’s dink and dunk efforts have reached midfield after a five-yard carry by Spiller, brought down, naturally, by Shazier. I’m pretty sure Shazier will be the team’s leading tackler this season. He’s doing against starters was Dan Molls did to future McDonald’s employees last week. And that’s a wrap on the first quarter.
Jackson managed to find some running room through tight spaces, gaining enough for a first down. On the following play, pressure from McLendon and Jason Worilds forced Manuel to throw the ball away.
Worilds got great pressure once again, and Manuel was flagged for intentional grounding, which is just as good as a sack. Third and long. Real long. Shazier lost his footing going against Chandler. He’s human. Stephon Tuitt ran all the way down the field to make the tackle short of the first down, but it put the Bills in field goal range. The Steelers lead is now 13-6 after a 53-yarder.
Once again, no chance at a return for Archer. Not that I’m surprised.
Roethlisberger is out for his third drive, going 2-for-2 in terms of touchdowns on his first two. Heath Miller is brought down on first down after just two yards. The throw on second down is short in front of Wheaton to set up third and long. Roethlisberger wound up and hit Brown for a first down after an 18-yard gain. Seven protecting, good blocking.
The quarterback was chased and stepped up into the pocket, and threw a hot pass that Miller couldn’t snag. Blount offered a stiff arm on second down for a defender, but only for one yard. Another third and long, and Roethlisberger hit his target again, but Miller was just short. The veteran kept his troops on the field for fourth down to attempt to draw the Bills offside, but they didn’t bite.
Brad Wing got his first opportunity to punt in this game, and it was better than last week. The 39-yarder was downed at the Bills’ 14-yard line.
The Steelers’ starting defense remains out. Polamalu in on the first tackle, but Woods got away from him on second down for a big gain. He was also flagged for illegal contact. Heyward got a hit on Manuel as he threw.
Jackson managed to elude Worilds, but Shazier caught up with him, and Mitchell finished off the tackle. On second and five, the Steelers seemed to have missed a couple tackles in the backfield, but the Bills still only gained a yard to set up third and four. The rookie left tackle false started to make it third and nine. Manuel hit Woods coming back for 16 yards with Allen in coverage.
Shazier and Lawrence Timmons stopped Chandler after a five-yard gain down to the Steelers’ 29 on first down. The back ran right into Shazier on second down to set up third and one. But Timmons stuck the back on the play to force a fourth-down play. Nice show from the veteran. Heyward tipped the ball at the line for a turnover on downs.
Observation: the Steelers’ offensive line is handling the Bills’ front in this game far better than they did last year. Something I was watching for this game.
Landry Jones entered the game with about five minutes left in the half over Bruce Gradkowski. Blount lost three yards on first down, but gained it back on second down. The Steelers went five wide–including Blount–on third and 10, but Nickell Robey stepped in front of Moore for the interception. Moore tackled him at the 42.
Daniel McCullers entered the game as the second-team nose tackle, along with the rest of the second-team defense. Tuitt received no time in the base defense with the starters, but did play in the nickel. Antwon Blake slipped a bit on a 16-yard pass on third down. Bills at the 25.
Manuel’s pass on second and five was not a good one, setting up third and five. He hit Jackson in stride, though, breaking a Vince Williams tackle to make it first and goal.
Note Cam Thomas and McCullers as the sub-package linemen with the second-string.
Shamarko Thomas shows off his stellar instincts once again by blowing up a pass to Jackson on first and goal. Jackson took a quick hand off for about three yards. William Gay had coverage on Woods at the left corner of the end zone. the receiver couldn’t bring it in in-bounds. On fourth down from the three, Robert Golden broke up a pass to the tight end Chandler to force another turnover on downs. Coach Dad approves.
Landry Jones takes a knee, and the Steelers bring a 13-6 lead into the second half, where Pittsburgh is set to receive the ball first.