The Pittsburgh Steelers showed a lot to like in the first half of their second preseason game against the Buffalo Bills. Ben Roethlisberger led two touchdown drives on his first two possessions, hitting Antonio Brown and Markus Wheaton for the scores.
The Steelers’ first-round pic, Ryan Shazier, made his debut, and did so in a big way, registering what I can only assume was double-digit tackles between defense and special teams and hauling in an impressive interception in front of Bills tight end Scott Chandler down the field.
When we resume play, the Steelers will receive a kickoff that will probably go out the back of the end zone, just because.
After the predicted touchback, Landry Jones took the field and was sacked on first down. Mike Adams at right tackle, Guy Whimper at left tackle. On second down, a pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey was defended, but Aaron Williams was called for defensive holding for a first down.
Dri Archer carried on the following play for three yards. Jones was under pressure and threw the ball into the dirt. Cody Wallace was flagged for holding, but so far the Steelers’ second-team line is being tested by the Bills’ defensive line depth.
Following the penalty, David Paulson broke a tackle, stepped back, and headed forward for some extra yards to set up third and four, but Jones couldn’t find Paulson again on the following play. Brad Wing‘s second punt of the game was decent, but was returned eight yards before Howard Jones made the tackle.
Two carries and a first down for the Bills against the Steelers’ second-team defense. Daniel McCullers nearly made a stop in the backfield on the following play, but Sean Spence finished it.
Robert Golden laid a hit on the fullback Evan Rodriguez after a reception, but bounced off. He fumbled later, however, and Golden was able to fall on the ball. Shamarko Thomas was the cause. The runner stepped out of bounds, but that aspect of the play is not part of the automatic review process. Steelers ball.
It’s nice that the second-team defense forced a turnover, but the Bills were driving nicely before that.
Archer took the hand off, but was blown up in the back field for a loss on first down. He got the pass on second down, however, and flew down the sideline for 39 yards before being barely contained by the jersey.
The Bills were offside on the next play to make it first and five. Jones looked to the end zone for Martavis Bryant, and drew a holding call in the process. The pass was just beyond Bryant’s fingertips.
Both tackles allowed pressure on the next snap. Adams’ man walked him into Jones, and Whimper’s man got the strip sack. Bryant Browning limped off the field after having his leg rolled up on. That’s an interception and a lost fumble for Jones, who held on to the ball too long on that play.
Antwon Blake was flagged for pass interference in the end zone on an obvious call, giving Buffalo a first down at the one-yard line. The Steelers stopped Boobie Dixon on the first attempt, but he reached over the pile for a touchdown on second and goal. Blake was flagged on the play, but it was declined for obvious reasons.
The Steelers’ first kick returned of the preseason was taken by James Shaw, who earlier played for the Pittsburgh Power this year.
Wesley Johnson is in at center, with Wallace at guard now. Tauren Poole picked up five yards on two carried to set up third and five. Bryant was unable to bring in the pass, sending Wing back out.
T.J. Graham returned the 51-yard punt a little over 20 yards, and an illegal formation penalty on Howard Jones tacked on another five.
Thad Lewis hit his receiver along the right sideline for a first down, but offsetting penalties negated the play. His next pass sailed well out of bounds with nobody around. On second and 10, Blake had good coverage on Marcus Easley, but the pass wasn’t nearly complete anyway.
Chris Carter nearly sacked Lewis, but the ensuing pass was incomplete, with Isaiah Green in strong coverage. Brian Moorman‘s punt was downed at the eight-yard line, but a flag on the Bills for illegal touching added five yards.
Bruce Gradkowski entered the game with five and a half minutes left in the third quarter. Wallace was flagged for hands to the face, negating a pass to Archer.
Justin Brown was the recipient of Gradkowski’s first official pass for six yards, making it second and six from deep in Steelers territory. Poole found little room around the right edge, setting up third and nine.
A delay of game resulted in a five-yard penalty, and the subsequent third-down play was ineffective. Pressure from around the tackles flushed the quarterback up in the pocket and forced him to dump it off to Poole for a loss.
Wing’s third punt of the game went 53 yards with a short return, but Miguel Maysonet was flagged for a facemask on the tackle, giving the Bills the ball on the Steelers’ 45.
The quarterback Lewis kept the ball and carried for 12 yards. Bryce Brown‘s carry on the next play was good for just a short gain, if anything. On second and 10, Lewis’ deep pass couldn’t find a target. Brice McCain seemed to have been beaten on the play otherwise. On third down, pressure forced an errant throw, and Golden took advantage to pick it off for the defense’s third turnover of the night.
Gradkowski looked for Heyward-Bey down the right sideline on first down, but the coverage didn’t allow it. An illegal formation on Bryant was declined on a narrowly incomplete pass to Brown on a low throw under pressure.
On third and 10, Eric Waters chipped a rusher to take the pass, but it was well short of a first down. Wing’s punt only traveled about 35 yards. He has been lacking in consistency through his first two games, which plagued the Steelers last year at the position.
The Bills turned to Jeff Tuel as their third quarterback as the game bled into the fourth quarter. Dixon was tackled after a five-yard gain by Brian Arnfelt, who desperately needed playing time, and Terence Garvin.
Ethan Hemer is playing as the third-team left defensive end over Nick Williams. After a first down, the Bills were in a third and eight situation, and Tuel hit Scott Gragg for the first down.
On the next play, Thomas came up to make the stop in the running game. Roy Philon is also playing over Williams. Why? McCain nearly intercepted the third down pass. He probably should have had that one, but he did a nice job to cut off the route. The Bills missed a subsequent field goal to keep the game tied at 13.
The pass intended for Kashif Moore after the missed field goal was incomplete, but a defensive hold on the Bills gave the Steelers a new first down. An offside makes it first and five. Bryant rose up in front of a falling defender to grab a pass in bounds near the sideline for a first down.
Josh Harris had no room on first down. In the no huddle, Gradkowski looked down the sideline for Derek Moye, but the pass was out of bounds. Now third and 11, Gradkowski is forced to scramble, but can’t get the first-down yardage.
It does give the Steelers a chance to attempt a field goal. Shaun Suisham is perfect from distance to take the lead at 16-13. Bryce Davis was the long snapper instead of Luke Ingram that time.
Suisham’s kickoff was fielded by Graham about nine yards in the end zone for a touchback. The Bills resume their offensive with just under 10 minutes to go.
Hebron Fangupo came in in the sub-package on first down along with Mauro. Still no Nick Williams. On third and eight, Mauro registered a one-yard sack after the quarterback was flushed out of the pocket. Archer was back to field the punt, but it was downed in front of him.
Whimper got pushed back on first down and allowed Harris to be stuffed at the line. Bryant tried to climb over the defender for a long reception, but was unable to come down with the ball. On third and nine, Lanear Sampson came down with a short gain to force the Steelers to punt. Wing’s punt was better this time, with a short return.
Fangupo stacked and shed well on second down for a tackle to set up third and five with five minutes remaining. On third down, Tuel was able to scramble after the play broke down for 17 yards.
Lew Toler got turned around after a reception to allow a first down on the next play. Tuel’s next pass was incomplete out of bounds. After a rushed pass, Toler had a receiver jump in front of him for the reception.
Arnfelt, Hemer, and Fangupo remain the third-team defensive line. On second and eight, a hole opened up in that line for a run of first-down yardage.
Ross Ventrone helped chase Brown out of bounds for a loss of two. Williams finally entered the game and was around the pile after a short gain. On third and nine, Jones was held to make it third and 19.
Nowhere to go for Tuel on third down. Time for the Bills to threaten to send a preseason game into overtime at the two-minute warning strikes. And it’s a tie, with less than two minutes remaining. In the preseason. Remember, this is all Suisham’s fault for missing an extra point.
Shaw makes no effort to return his second kickoff. Gradkowski out to try to lead a scoring drive to end the game in regulation. 1:56 to play and three timeouts.
Moore came down with a first-down pass off the bat. The quarterback looked for him down the field on the next play, but it was incomplete. On second down, Bryant took a short pass and stiff-armed his way for about five yards to set up third and five after the timeout. Gradkowski scrambled for a first down to keep the drive alive.
He looked down the field for Bryant, who only managed to tip the ball in the air, and the pass was intercepted with 43 seconds remaining at the Bills’ 29. One pass, nine yards, timeout. 37 seconds.
On second and one, Garvin came tearing into the backfield for a sack, and nearly swiped the ball out. Now third and four, Vic So’oto registerd the strip sack, and it was scooped up by Jones, who returned it near the goal line. That’s his third fumble recovery of the preseason.
The Steelers tried to run it in, but the Bills stuffed it. Using their last timeout with two seconds remaining, Suisham was able to redeem himself for missing the extra point that threatened to send the game into overtime with his second field goal of the game, and the win.