Steelers Versus Bills – First Half Notes And Observations

By Matthew Marczi

  • The Steelers really made it a point to significantly feature Mike Adams throughout the game, and since he’s been used at tight end. In the four games since his demotion, he’s played 117 snaps, including 28 this week.
  • They broke out the Wildcat early this week, but they did so with a different look; Marcus Gilbert was lined up, essentially, as a tight end on the left side, with Heath Miller in the traditional right tackle position. Le’Veon Bell only carried for three yards, but it provided a fresh and unorthodox look.
  • Over the past couple weeks, the Steelers have shown a willingness to put the ball on the ground from third and three more than I can recall in recent history. Bell converted on such a play on the first drive, and Jonathan Dwyer did it later in the game.
  • In his first game back from an ankle injury, David DeCastro was certainly far from dominant against the run. He made a few quality blocks, but overall, he was generally controlled by that tough Bills front. Perhaps he’s still working his way back a bit, he there’s another tough test coming up next week, and the line will likely include Guy Whimper at left guard.
  • Jerricho Cotchery: what can you say about him? He’s always there, in position to make the play. He made a key catch on third and five.
  • Ben Roethlisberger had to go and spoil it two plays later with his interception.
  • William Gay really helped redeem himself this week, making four run stops on the Bills’ first two drives of the game.
  • Yeah, he had that dumb pass interference call. Cortez Allen had one too. But he was reliable in coverage as well.
  • The Steelers gave Al Woods a lot of work this week. He play 11 snaps to Steve McLendon’s 24. Both held up against the run despite not being ‘true’ nose tackles.
  • I never like saying it, but Heath Miller had another bad game, both as a receiver and as a blocker.
  • The best play of the day that Stevie Johnson made was turning into a defensive back to prevent a LaMarr Woodley interception.
  • Lawrence Timmons had easily one of his best games of the season, though that’s not saying much. What it certainly was, though, was his most forceful game of the season. He laid down the wood when he tackled in this last game. He put down Fred Jackson with authority on a third and 11 play.
  • Man, both of those punters sucked. There’s really nothing more to say on that topic.
  • As much as I feel that I need to be critical of Vince Williams, I really don’t want to, because I like the way he plays. He’s stepped up against the run the past two weeks, other than a week effort on a touchdown run last week when he overstepped the play.
  • I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing Todd Haley get Michael Palmer more involved in the offense to see what he can do, especially since it doesn’t seem as though Matt Spaeth will be back any time soon. He Palmer was certainly better than Miller in this game, though in just 11 snaps.
  • Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about Dwyer carving out a niche for himself as a short-yardage back? Yeah, three carries on third and short in this game.
  • Also in Dwyer news, I’m not entirely sure if this just started this week, but he’s also on the punt return team now. More news on that in the second half though.
  • Bell almost took a clothesline after that late handoff on the end around to Emmanuel Sanders. Sanders showed some nice moves on that 25-yard carry to boot.
  • Would you believe me if I told you it was Marcel Dareus that made the tackle?
  • The Steelers really need to do a better job on goal-to-go situations. It doesn’t help when Whimper at right tackle allows a sack on third down.
  • Rough break for Shamarko Thomas, missing a tackle and adding insult to injury. He could have really used some redemption this week after the New England game.
  • It is interesting to see that Will Allen came in as the dime back after the injury, on the other hand, as Robert Golden had already filled that role earlier in the season.
  • It really seemed like the wind was an issue in this game. A lot of Roethlisberger’s short targets were off the mark. That couldn’t have been all him.
  • That sleeper fade to Cotchery was a thing of beauty on every level. Especially in the way that the running game set up the effective run-blocking sell. That was a veteran move for sure.
  • What an excellent series of hits by Cortez Allen and Gay to force a punt at the end of the first half. That is how the defense should have been playing all season.
  • What awful time management to follow, however. If you have a timeout in your pocket and the clock runs out, chances are you did something wrong.
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