The most comical stat line from the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 38-3 curb-stomping from the Buffalo Bills is the fact that they ‘dominated’ time of possession. Indeed, the visiting team possessed the ball for 36:08. But the reasons for that are why they were dominated on the scoreboard. And that starts with big plays. You don’t need to hold onto the ball if you score 60-plus-yard touchdowns.
“They got a great quarterback, great receivers, great offense”, defensive tackle Cameron Heyward said after the game, via the team’s YouTube. “We didn’t help the situation. If anything, we escorted them to making those big plays. They had a great gameplan, but we’ve got to make sure we execute ours, and we did not do that”.
On the third play of the game, Josh Allen found Gabriel Davis for a 98-yard touchdown, getting behind Levi Wallace and Tre Norwood, who were starting in place of the injured Ahkello Witherspoon and Terrell Edmunds, respectively. Later in the game, Davis wrestled away a 62-yard score from Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Those were not, of course, the only big plays. Rookie running back James Cook escaped for a 24-yard touchdown run. Allen and Devin Singletary also had explosive runs. Stefon Diggs had a 41-yard reception, leaving the Bills at or near double-digits in the explosive play column. How does that happen, over and over and over?
“A myriad of things. Execution, not tackling, not using basic things that we’ve practiced from training camp, whether it’s staying inside or having a gap or using your hands”, Heyward said. “It’s all these things included, and that ass-kicking we just took proves that”.
“If there’s anybody who can say they had a great game, you’re not searching hard enough”, he added. “We’ve all got to own this, top to bottom. It’s a dark day, and when you lose like that, you can’t go running from it”.
Heyward finished the game with five tackles, a forced fumble, and a batted pass, one of his better games of the season thus far, in what hasn’t been one of his better years. The cornerbacks really struggled in coverage, with James Pierre getting a lot of play.
Injuries in the secondary caused practice squad call-ups Josh Jacobs and Elijah Riley to see time on defense. In-game injuries, most notably suffered by Larry Ogunjobi, were also issues. But when you give up a 98-yard touchdown on the third play of the game, your excuses are going to fall on deaf ears, and rightfully so.