Few teams slowed down a potent Buffalo Bills’ offense last season. Even their postseason defeat became one of the most electric shootouts in playoff history. But one of the few who did were the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bills fell to the Steelers in Week 1 23-16, a game that left an impression on former Bill and current Steelers corner Levi Wallace.
“Steelers I thought especially last year, I thought ‘dang, they have a tough defense,'” he told reporters in a Zoom call Thursday. “Back in Buffalo we finished with the #1 defense We had a good defense. But I was always thinking, the Steelers’ defense, especially the d-line, how they get after the ball. DBs flying around, linebackers sideline to sideline, I was really impressed in last year’s game. How they were affecting us last year. When they called I said, ‘that’s another good defense to be apart of.'”
In that 2021 meeting, the Bills were held to the third-fewest points they scored in a game all year, only ahead of the six they scored against Jacksonville in Week 9 and the ten they put up in a snowstorm against the Patriots in December. The Bills were sacked three times, turned the ball over once, and the Steelers’ kept stud wideout Stefon Diggs in check throughout the game. In their 2019 meeting, a much better Steelers’ defense held the Bills to only 17 points, though Buffalo still won the game.
Perhaps fortunately for the Steelers, Wallace didn’t get to see what happened to Pittsburgh’s defense the rest of the season. Injuries caused the group to fall apart. Their D-line became a shell of itself, the inside linebackers didn’t play well, and the secondary went through its own growing pains and dealt with injuries to veteran corner Joe Haden. Pittsburgh finished the year with a historically bad run defense, a league-worst 4.99 YPC.
But a healthier, more experienced, and more talented unit are all causes for optimism in 2022. Wallace will be part of that group, though his exact role is uncertain now that the team has brought back CB Ahkello Witherspoon.
Wallace profiles well as a zone and off-man corner who is willing to support the run. He isn’t the flashiest signing, and his athletic limitations cap his upside, but he’s a solid signing for the Steelers who are enjoying a solid offseason of key re-signings and outside free agents.