I think the big takeaway of today is…never listen to my score predictions.
Le’Veon Bell: Wow. Wow. Wow. That’s all you can say. A day for the Steelers’ history books. He became the Pittsburgh Steelers’ single game rusher with 236 yards and second in yards from scrimmage with 296. The Steelers leaned on him in a snowy day and a game where Ben Roethlisberger struggled. He even busted off a 24 yard run, only the third of the year for the Steelers.
Buffalo knew 26 was getting the ball. And could do little to stop him. That’s true dominance.
And Steelers’ Nation? Meet me in Stats Of The Weird later today. Going to be fun, I think.
Roosevelt Nix: The Bonny to Bell’s Clyde. The Robin to his Batman. Scrappy Doo to his Scooby. Nix, as he always does, cracked skulls and was an equally dominant as a lead blocker through the hole or on the perimeter. He also played a key role on special teams with two tackles that gave the Bills poor field position.
Nix has been my favorite player and today shows why.
B.J. Finney: He is third wheelin’ it in this run game dominance but played a vital role. He continues to look like a starter in the making. He mushed Marcell Dareus into the ground on Bell’s first touchdown and did a tremendous job getting out in space when asked to pull. Pass protection was solid, too.
It’s still Ramon Foster’s job but in a couple years, it’ll go to Finney. What a find.
Steelers Pass Rush: They got after Tyrod Taylor, especially early, to the tune of five sacks. Their contain was excellent, it’s been that way for weeks and is a reason why the sack totals are going up, and their effort was notable. Everyone running to the ball, no one loafing, and every guy making life tough on the offensive line and quarterback. Bud Dupree officially led the way with two of them.
Keith Butler: The entire defense was stellar today but I have to give some extra credit to the DC. The Bills’ offense is tricky, and that worried the heck out of me, but I can’t think of a single run where the defense was confused by the Bills’ misdirection. Buffalo threw everything at them and Pittsburgh stayed gap-sound. That’s a credit to preparation and coaching so big ups to Butler.
Ryan Shazier: He was our X Factor and it’s easy to see why. The Steelers wanted to be aggressive and shut down the Bills’ running game, darting into the backfield and disrupting the Bills’ scheme before they could get things going. It was a varied rushing attack but it also caused them to be a bit long-developing.
By halftime, Shazier already had seven tackles, a sack, a QB hit, and a TFL. The second half was quiet, just one tackle, but the damage had been done. Got the best version of Shazier today and he and Lawrence Timmons are coming on strong as the best inside linebacker tandem in the NFL.
L.T. Walton: A little more of the underrated variety today but I thought Walton played well, even earning the start over Ricardo Mathews. The run defense was strong across the board for this team and Walton’s hustle and chase to the football sure is appreciated. It’ll make John Mitchell a happy man.
Bud Dupree: We were a little tough on him last week but he played with a ton of energy and production today. His sacks weren’t incredible but they were high effort and he did a tremendous job chasing Taylor to the outside anytime he managed to break contain. Ended the game with four tackles and two sacks.
Ben Roethlisberger: Shoddy day from Ben and a lot of the light on it goes away because of the Steelers’ dominance on the ground. but the road woes show up again. To be fair, the first two interceptions may not have been his fault – there was evidence of miscommunication – but the third was definitely on him. A wide open Jesse James in the end zone and Ben didn’t put enough oomf on the football. There were several other near-interceptions too. Far from his best day, especially given the standard we view him at.
OLBs not named Dupree and Harrison: So much for a rotation. Anthony Chickillo, Jarvis Jones, and Arthur Moats, have yourself a seat. I’m not sure if they played on defense at all today. We’ll see if that continues going forward.