For all that went on during Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills, perhaps the most frustrating is the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers had the ball comfortably within Bills territory after they had been trailing by seven points with about five minutes left in the game or less…and they came up with zero points.
That was due to rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges throwing multiple interceptions that were picked off in the end zone. One of those plays came on fourth down, admittedly, so it was do or die at that point, but it was a poor play overall by the rookie quarterback.
It was, however, overall an experience from which his offensive coordinator hopes he will grow. Said Randy Fichtner on Thursday, “until you do it and you do it at this level, it is awful hard to simulate, even in training camp”. Hodges ran a good amount of two-minute drills in the offseason, but that doesn’t prepare for live action.
“We do it. and it is great to do it against our defense, but the weight of that and every decision that you have made isn’t weighted as greatly”, he added. “You try to make it as a coach, but come on, we are at training camp. It is a little different. It is not win or lose the game in that moment”.
Fichtner added that Hodges “will have to keep growing in that situation”, referring to running the late-game or late-half offense. “I am thankful that he had the opportunity to be in there. I never thought for one minute that we weren’t going to be successful, even when the defense got the ball back to us with no timeouts left with 1:35”.
Hodges did help the offense drive down the field prior to throwing those interceptions—63 yards to the Buffalo 23 over nine plays on the first of the two drives after Buffalo’s go-ahead touchdown—but getting to the 23-yard line doesn’t get you anything in the long run.
“I would love to say we could grow from that now, but now is not the time to grow from it”, Fichtner cautioned, pointing out that there is no room for a learning curve at this time of year. “Shoot, we want to win. We have to find a way to finish that and those are things we addressed this week and how could we manage this better”.
While the offense was blanked in the fourth quarter, and only put up 10 points in the first three, the defense did ultimately surrender 10 points in the final frame after being spotted a three-point lead. Making 10 points stick for a win is a tough ask for any defense, however.