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Steelers vs Bills – Second Half Notes And Observations

Below are some of my notes and observations from having reviewed the tape of the first half of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ victory over the Buffalo Bills on Saturday.

  • The Steelers begin the second half with two tight ends on the field, with Rob Blanchflower being the second. Second-team offensive line in, with the most notable element being Mike Adams at right tackle and Guy Whimper at left tackle.
  • Poor showing by the entire line on first down in pass protection. Everybody gives up ground, but it’s Chris Hubbard’s man that gets the sack. The sack was caused, however, by Landry Jones being forced to flee the pocket. Hubbard may have been the least to blame here.
  • Quickly back to 11 personnel. Martavis Bryant and Darrius Heyward-Bey play the outside receivers ahead of Derek Moye. Justin Brown in the slot. Dri Archer in the backfield, but fortunately doesn’t have to get his hands dirty.
  • Cody Wallace allowed penetration and held. The first two games have not been the best showing for the Steelers’ backup center. And many wanted him to start and to cut ties with Maurkice Pouncey.
  • David Paulson showed a bit of sign of life, making a tackler miss after a reception, backtracking and then cutting up field to gain an extra few yards, even if it was second and 17. Third and four is better than third and eight. But Jones threw behind Paulson on third down.
  • Howard Jones records the special teams tackle. Heyward-Bey as the gunner didn’t really seem all that blazing fast.
  • Antwon Blake got leaped over by Boobie Dixon. Not a good game for Blake, who could get leaped over by Brice McCain as the fourth cornerback.
  • Daniel McCullers turned out of a hole. This game was not nearly as impressive as the first for the rookie.
  • Unblocked on the next play and McCullers missed an easy tackle in the backfield. Sean Spence tracked it down.
  • After a good first half, Robert Golden got trucked by Evan Rodriguez. He gained an extra 13 yards from where Golden contacted him, but fortunately for the safety, Shamarko Thomas’ tackle jarred the ball loose. To complete his redemption, it was Golden and his hustling down the field who fell onto the fumble.
  • Of course, Josh Mauro just so happened to be in the vicinity, as he always is. In the first game, he showed a lot of hustle, but I thought he executed better in game two. Onward and upward it is.
  • Either Landon Cohen was offsides on the ensuing first down, or he had an incredible jump off the ball to split Wallace and Hubbard, blowing Archer up in the backfield. It’s honestly difficult to tell. He definitely moved before the snap, but it seems he was still onside. Just a great play by the veteran journeyman. To be fair, the reach block is also a difficult assignment for a center.
  • At first appeared to be a jailbreak, but Jones hit Archer on a shallow pass, and before you know it, the rookie was 40 yards down the field. If it weren’t for the sideline he would have been gone, but the safety caught him, just barely, by the jersey.
  • The line held up in pass protection on Jones’ pass to Bryant in the end zone. It’s important to keep in mind that the bad plays tend to stick in your mind more easily.
  • Of course, both Adams and Whimper were beaten on the next play. Adams was walked back into Jones, while Whimper’s man dipped under him and evaded his push. But Jones needs to show better awareness in this situation. The fumble was returned a long way and soon converted into points.
  • Naturally, it was Michael Palmer on the eventual tackle. Little things like that got him on the roster a year ago.
  • Good wrap up leg tackle by Spence on first down.
  • Blake slipped in the end zone on second down and was forced to commit pass interference to try to save a touchdown, giving the Bills first and goal.
  • Main credit for the first and goal stop goes to Stephon Tuitt and Spence.
  • Mauro was too quick to the ground on second and goal. Vince Williams nearly stuffed the back at the goal line, but he elevated and broke the plane. Jones got a helmet in there as well.
  • The Steelers finally got a kick return, and it was taken by James Shaw.
  • Note: Wallace moved to left guard after an injury on the earlier fumble. Rookie Wesley Johnson entered the game at center.
  • Palmer still in as the second tight end now. Paulson couldn’t hold his block and allowed the tackle on Tauren Poole.
  • Johnson got a block (in the back) to clear a lane for Poole on second down. The line held up in protection on third down, but, apparently, the pass was too hot to handle for Bryant. Looked very catchable to me.
  • I’m not seeing great effort from Heyward-Bey on special teams as a gunner.
  • Chris Carter got pressure on Thad Lewis on third and long, but only because two Bills got in each other’s way. Isaiah Green was there to prevent a completion after Carter couldn’t finish.
  • Jones got fooled badly on a quarterback keeper by Lewis. Mauro didn’t. But he’s a lineman.
  • It seemed that McCain was beat down the field on a deep route that was overthrown, but you see him pointing to the sideline after the play. I believe he was suggesting that the receiver stepped out of bounds, meaning he would not be able to be the first player to touch the ball anyway.
  • A cornerback blitz rushed Lewis, resulting in an errant pass that Golden easily plucked out of the air.
  • If Poole makes the team, it will be for special teams.
  • Third-team defense in with seconds remaining in the third quarter. Vic So’oto at left outside linebacker. Defensive line of Ethan Hemer, Hebron Fangupo, Brian Arnfelt from left to right. Dan Molls and Terence Garvin at inside linebacker, but second-team safeties still in.
  • Arnfelt worked to the ball well on second down.
  • Another good stick for a loss or no gain by Thomas. McCain defended the pass well on the next play but dropped an interception. No harm done as the Bills missed the ensuing field goal.
  • Kashif Moore was able to show a little bit in his time, but you have to think he’s only vying for a spot on the practice squad at best.
  • Bryant finally put his size to good use, going up high for a reception near the sideline from Bruce Gradkowski.
  • Fangupo with a stop. He didn’t play much this game, but he did play fairly well, perhaps keeping his name in the discussion.
  • Steelers showed six rushers at the line on third and eight. Five rush, with Garvin dropping to cover. Roy Philon was able to get inside. So’oto collapsed the right side. Those two pressures forced the quarterback to flee. Mauro was able to disengage for the sack.
  • Heyward-Bey did an excellent job as a jammer on the ensuing punt. I don’t know what to think of him yet.
  • Whimper blown off the ball, opening a gap for his own man to make the tackle.
  • Came back on the next play to stonewall the pass rusher. Gradkowski had a beautiful pocket from under center to launch one down the field to Bryant. He had a realistic shot at that one, but the defender may have gotten a hand in there late to agitate things. Still, the temptation is undeniably strong to want to see Bryant come down with one of these contested balls soon.
  • Garvin really shows off his safety-like agility sometimes on running plays. Usually in a good way. He was strong in run support in this game with the third-team defense.
  • Credit where it’s due, Ross Ventrone was playing well too, even if it seems impossible for him to make the team.
  • Mauro dropped, slightly, in coverage, and then came in to tackle the quarterback at the line of scrimmage when he was flushed out.
  • On the late Gradkowski interception to Bryant, the defensive back made a wonderful play on the ball, tipping it back to his teammate. Bryant tried to cup the ball and tip it toward himself, but the defender got his hand up.
  • The pass protection was strong on that drive, however.
  • Lew Toler with a missed tackle. I fear he may not make this team.
  • Garvin beat the running back too easily for a sack.
  • So’oto earns a spot on my roster for keeping this game out of overtime. Jones did well to get to the ball, but So’oto has been the better overall player on defense. How much stock do you put on being the guy that’s around the ball for fumble recoveries, as opposed to being the one that causes the fumbles?
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