Pittsburgh Steelers’ Week One win, arguably the best of Mike Tomlin’s career, had plenty of turning points. But Cam Sutton’s tackle on a funky-looking 4th and short toss by the Buffalo Bills was one of the most critical shifts in the game. To hear Mike Tomlin tell it, the Steelers’ defense was more than prepared to meet the moment.
In his press conference, Tomlin says the Steelers anticipated Buffalo coming up with a trick on 4th down.
“It was something we anticipated,” Tomlin told reporters post-game. “They had gotten in that structure a bunch. Four, five times in the preseason. And just giving the dive to the fullback. We figured that would be the next phase of it. To fake the dive to the fullback and flip the ball out to him. We talked about it but you can’t take anything away from Cam Sutton. A really aware play and big-time football play.”
An aggressive call on 4th and 1 from Pittsburgh’s 41, Josh Allen faked a quarterback sneak, which he executed earlier in the game, and pitched left to RB Matt Breida. Cam Sutton read the play, diving under the fullback and cutting out Breida’s leg for a seven-yard loss and turnover on downs.
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Pittsburgh took advantage of the chance. On the ensuing drive, Diontae Johnson made a fantastic juggling catch in the left corner of the end zone for the score. It gave Pittsburgh their first lead of the day. Buffalo went three and out on their next possession and Miles Killebrew blocked Matt Haack’s punt on 4th down. Ulysees Gilbert ran the ball into the end zone, putting the Steelers up 20-10, a 15-point swing in a matter of minutes that ultimately decided the game.
Sutton spoke to what he saw on that play in his post-game press conference.
“4th and 1, 4th and short,” Sutton said via Steelers.com. “Getting a feel for the sense of the game. They put some FB belly on tape earlier in the year and last year. Just recognizing the play. Trying to get a speed guy out in space…just able to read and react, get to him before he got started. And make a play.”
Sutton had an impressive performance overall, finishing the day with five tackles (two for a loss) and two breakups. Though Sutton declined to name that 4th down play *the* play of the game, it was a significant one. And one of the major reasons why Pittsburgh clawed their way back into the gam en route to a Week One victory.