Mike Tomlin just watched his rookie quarterback, whom he didn’t even keep on the practice squad to start the season, toss four interceptions in a critical loss against the Buffalo Bills last night. Two were bad throws and bad decisions in Tre’Davious White’s direction. The final two came late in the game in the end zone as they trailed by seven points.
He has the chance, and frankly, the justification, to throw Devlin Hodges under the bus and critique his performance. He, surely actively and consciously, chose not to, opting instead to praise the defense that the Pittsburgh Steelers were playing.
During his post-game press conference, as reporters were asking him what had happened on Hodges’ turnovers, Tomlin said that it came down to “quality execution by those guys. Not only schematically but just the play. They’ve got a really good defense. We knew that, and they confirmed it”.
While the Bills defenders did make nice plays on the ball in those instances in which they were able to pick the ball off, in most cases, they were also the product of bad decisions and balls that never should have been attempted. Perhaps only the first, which was inside to Diontae Johnson when it should have been out wide, was more about execution than decision-making.
Which his four-interception night, Hodges now has six interceptions in six games played, including four starts, which is one more than the number of touchdowns that he has thrown, the majority of which are to be accounted four via yards after the catch. Only his touchdowns in the past two weeks to James Washington and Johnson lacked a significant yards after the catch component. Two were long touchdowns to James Conner on nearly all YAC. 48 yards from Washington on his 79-yard touchdown came after the catch.
The Steelers have not scored more than 20 points via the offense in any game in which Hodges has started without the benefit of a touchdown via defense or special teams, and frankly, as good as the defense has been playing, that is not good enough.
Last night, they held the Bills to 17 points despite five turnovers and an awful punt, and the offense responded with 10 points. Sentimentality is meaningless when your backs are up against the wall. Whoever gives the offense the best chance to win has to be under center.