Big Lead Sports Bar


12 Thoughts on Steelers-Bills

Some thoughts on the incredibly close 19-16 Steeler overtime win on Sunday at Buffalo:

1. Congratulations, Steve Johnson. With your drop of a game-winning touchdown on Sunday, you joined the likes of Jackie Smith and Dennis Northcutt in the ranks of famous dropped passes against the Steelers. And the incredible part is, it wasn't even his first drop of the game - it was his fifth. Those are the kind of focus plays that make the difference between Buffalo being 2-9 and 6-5, which they could be after four three-point losses.

At least he was classy post-game, blaming his drop on God

2. The Steelers dodged another bullet when Troy Polamalu picked off Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the fourth with the Bills surging towards a potential go-ahead touchdown or game-tying field goal. Unfortunately, the Pittsburgh offense couldn't close out the game and gave the ball back to Buffalo, which  quickly moved it 23 yards in six plays and set up Rian Lindell's three-pointer near the end of regulation. Make no doubt about it, the Black and Gold were mighty lucky to eek this one out once it was all said and done.

3. Shaun Suisham made a lot of friends in the Steeler locker room and around Pittsburgh on Sunday, hitting all four field goal attempts including the game-winner in OT. 

Suisham's field goals were all 40+ yards and for at least one day, he helped the Steelers win a ballgame. Would Jeff Reed have made all those kicks? The world will never know.

4. A week after flags were a punchline after the Steeler game concluded, the team managed to rack up 10 more penalties for 107 yards against the Bills.

Chris Kemoeatu had a particularly sloppy day with four infractions, wiping out a 42-yard run by Rashard Mendenhall, a 27-yard catch by Hines Ward, and a 17-yard catch by Emmanuel Sanders. Nothing like undoing 86 yards of offense in three plays.

It was part of a rough day for the line, which struggled to contain Buffalo's Kyle Williams, who accounted for two of their five sacks and three of their seven hits on Big Ben.

5. While Mendenhall had a season-best 151 yards on Sunday, his fumble in the fourth quarter directly led to three points for the Bills, putting a damper on an otherwise efficient day by the running back. Believe it or not, it was only his third 100-yard game in 2010 and his first since putting up 143 against Tampa Bay in Week 3. 

The Steelers racked up more than 200 yards rushing on 45 attempts (to 33 passes) on Sunday, with Roethlisberger adding an 18-yard scramble and Isaac Redman chipping in with 25 yards on the ground.

6. After the Steelers' utter dominance in the first half, I was shocked to see how the second half unfolded in  Buffalo. Quoting ESPN, "The Steelers dominated the entire first half in which they had edge in score, 13-0, time of possession (23 minutes, 55 seconds to 6:05), first downs (18-4) and yards offense (225-51)"

I only wished that Mike Tomlin's team owned more than a 13-point lead at the half for their effort; but in my heart I believed that the Bills' defense would be so exhausted  that the second half would be a Steeler cakewalk. You know, like building a 13-0 lead en route to a 38-13 final. Wrong.

The Bills are gaining a bit of a rep as a second-half team, and although they came up short, it was an impressive rally. Chan Gailey will never be confused with Chuck Noll or Bill Walsh, but he's keeping things competitive with a serious lack of household names, including a journeyman QB from Harvard, a running back from Coe College, and a seventh-round draft pick as their go-to receiver.

A lot of more talented teams have quit on their coach this season. I think it's safe to say that Buffalo hasn't. They just don't have the horses.

7. As for the Steelers' passing attack, Hines Ward tied a season-high with seven catches, although he had only one in the second half. Nonetheless, Ward is still on pace for his least-productive pass catching season since 2000, when he caught just 48 balls, and  on Sunday he had his second lost fumble in the last month - notable because he had only four his entire career coming into 2010.

Mike Wallace was held mostly in check, with three catches and a long of just 17 yards on the day. The more success he continues to have, the more attention he will draw. He's not sneaking up on any defense anymore.  On the downside, both Wallace and Emmanuel Sanders had drops of catchable balls.

Mewelde Moore had an efficient day out of the backfield, with four catches and two third-down conversions. Heath Miller also had some nice grabs much to the delight of the Heeeeeeeath-cheering fans who made the trip.

Sunday was not Ben Roethlisberger's most memorable game, but he engineered some great drives in the first half and led the team to an important scoring drive in the fourth quarter and in overtime. He finished with 246 yards, and 83 passer rating, and no touchdowns or picks - obviously in pain with an injury he was struggling to properly disclose post-game.

8. The Steeler defense had a fantastic first half, but could've easily been labeled as the goat if Johnson catches that touchdown in overtime. That score would've meant a 22-3 Buffalo run to close out the game. That's simply not acceptable, at least if your team aspires to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.

As for individual efforts, James Harrison met his personal foul quota, getting whistled for a  controversial 15-yard roughing the passer call in the second half. He finished with six tackles, one sack, and his usual one beef with officiating.

William Gay had some good and some bad play on Sunday, and was in on the Polamalu interception in the fourth quarter. He is what he is at this point in his career, which is to say a little of him goes a long way. Ike Taylor had a decent game, but was another beneficiary of Johnson's butterfingers.

Lawrence Timmons led the team with eight tackles, while James Farrior had two hits on Fitzpatrick and one TFL. And Troy Polamalu....he was Troy Polamalu.

9. Special teams had a solid day as long as you can forget the 49-yard kickoff return by Leodis McKelvin in overtime that nearly sank the Steelers. And since it didn't cost them the game, I guess I can forget that.

Suisham was obviously the star of the ST unit, but don't forget Dan Sepulveda, who greatly out-punted Bryan Moorman and had the booming kick in OT that changed the field-position dynamic.

10. Around the AFCN, Cleveland was the latest team to knock off 1-10 Carolina with a 24-23 win, aided by a missed John Kasay field goal as time expired. Jake Delhomme managed to complete two passes to his old team - one for a touchdown - in the game.

Cincinnati's famous el-foldo defense allowed 23 points in the second half to the New York Jets on Thanksgiving night, falling 26-10 and dropping to 2-9 on the season. Maybe they can talk about their ineptitude on the next T. Ocho Show when discussing Big Ben's softness.

Baltimore kept pace with the 8-3 Steelers in holding off Tampa, 17-10, on Sunday afternoon. Todd Heap, of all people, had the biggest play with a 65-yard touchdown reception. But I'm still not sold on the Ravens. I think they can be had.

11. Next week, the AFCN could be decided when the Steelers travel to Baltimore next Sunday night on NBC. The Ravens won the first matchup, 17-14, at Heinz Field, but it took a late touchdown to overcome a Steeler team guided by Chuck Batch. This one should be as good as advertised.

4-7 Cleveland goes to Miami, where the Dolphins are 1-4 this season in their own building. Miami is coming off a 33-17 win over Oakland in which they limited the Raiders to 16 yards rushing on 12 carries. Chad Henne threw for over 300 yards for the third time this season in the Dolphin win.

Cincinnati hosts New Orleans next week, with the Saints riding a five-game winning streak and getting extra time off after playing on Thanksgiving. That one might get ugly.

12. It's Sad Trombone time!

As you know, the Sad Trombone goes to someone who deserves no sympathy and in turn gets mocked by internet tough guys such as myself.

I must admit, it was pretty tough picking a winner this week. Buffalo managed to flush out most of their unsavory characters of recent vintage, including T.O. and Marshawn Lynch, taking away the slam-dunk candidates. With that being the case, I'm handing it to the entire city of Buffalo.

The Bills haven't been to the playoffs since a 1999 wild card loss in the Flutie Flakes Era. The Sabres lost the Eastern Conference Finals twice since 2006. When these teams to get to the finals, we all know how it goes. They've got to have one of the most tortured fan bases in the country. 

So to the Bills and the Sabres, pick yourselves up. Have some self-respect. Stop the lousy personnel moves and the self-loathing. Close the deal. Win some games. And give your poor fans something to cheer about. Starting next week, of course.

Until then...enjoy a loud Sad Trombone, your perennial also-rans!

Mondesi's House: The Director's Cut (more links, commentary, etc):


Unknown said...

We could see an NFL record for holding penalties next week in Baltimore. I find it hard to believe that this team can get where it needs to go with this offensive line. Its a consistent drive killer.

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

That Tweet from Johnson can't be real, can it?

Geez Steve, it sucks but relax. It's just a game dude!

Besides, if anyone should be angry with God it's our offensive line.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

I love that our offensive line gets flagged for 6 holds yesterday, 5 of which were legit. But the Beeeullls ( as Solomon Wilcots says) managed to somehow not pick up one holding call despite much evidence to the contrary........

Our offensive line is downright horrible, but let's be truthful. The Steelers thought they could cruise through the second half and already had the Bills in rear view looking forward to Baltimore. That just can't happen.

Anonymous said...

Johnson is one confused person, maybe the devil made him do it!!!!


JW said...

Imagine how tough the Bills' D-line would've been if they weren't always so worried about where "Mike Williams" was on the field at all times. (According to Solomon...)

JW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bababooey said...

That o-line is in shambles. They better pick it up or Baltimore is going to have a field day, and Ben will be on his back all night. I think that's what the Steelers were looking at anyway. They overlooked the Bills after going up 13 and thought they would just pack it in. This game was LUCK. They should be thanking Steve Johnson for dropping that game winning TD.

Bruce Arians better pick up his play calling. I understand running and exploiting a defense's weakness since Buffalo has a weak run-D. But Ben should have had the ball in his hands the majority of the second half. Put the ball in your playmaker's hands and seal the game. Again, the o-line didn't help this out either.

Anyone notice this game looked a little familiar from a few weeks back? O-line can't hold their water when backed up inside their own 10 yard line.

Unknown said...

How do we know Stevie Johnson was talking about God? He may have been talking about his uncle Rodney who taught him to catch balls with his eyes closed at times like that so the camera flashes won't blind him.
All I can say is we should have scored more than 13 pts in the first half, if we did, we wouldn't have had to worry about anything. We need efficiency on offense. More TD's early, if we keep letting teams hang around, it will eventually burn us more.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

Everyone points to the Stevie Johnson drop as the only reason we won this game and thus it's merely luck. Let's not forget the Bills fumbling that punt and it squirting through 20 different guys hands and the Bills coming out with it. How about the Steelers having the game clinched with the pass to Sanders and BOOM, penalty flag. Mendy's 40 plus yard run was a back breaker, BOOM, penalty flag.

The Bills had their share of luck as well. You are what your record says you are.

Bababooey said...

Definitely were lucky yesterday. That ball couldn't have been served any better. Ike got beat and Johnson had a gimme catch. You can't really talk about the other plays. Everyone knows the Johnson play had that game ended.

Borsk said...

I won't say we weren't lucky, but if you call what the Steelers did on Sunday luck, I don't even know what you call the Jets of the past month or so.

It is what it is. If the Steelers don't get called for holding on the Sanders catch, the game is over before halftime. I still find it hard to believe the Steelers get 6 or 7 holding calls and the opposition gets 1 or 0.

Anonymous said...

Is it luck or is it how the game unfolds?

Maybe if we have good luck some of the drive killing holding penalties are not called, maybe Saunders and Wallace hold on to those "easy" catches and the game is out of reach!

Who knows, I guess we won because we made one or two more plays than Buffalo, Baltimore is going to kill Ben unless the o-line holds every play, hopefully we get lucky !

Louis Lipps is my homeboy said...

The ball kind of was in Big Ben's hands a lot of the 2nd half.

It's just that everytime he made a big play it got called back due to holding on Kemo.

Kemo has been pretty decent this year, so I hope it was just a bad day and/or him trying to do too much to make up for the suck that is Jon Scott at tackle.

Also, I think we're done to playing a defensive tackle at defensive end right now with both Keisel and Eason being hurt.

And I didn't even notice McFadden get hurt, when did that happen?

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

1. Yeah, i was willing to give Steve (drop the i) a pass on this one, but then i saw that tweet. Way to go from goat to goat chode! Still though, he's having a HELL of a season. Can't imagine how sick his numbers would be if he caught all those drops this year!!!

6. The Bills have been extremely competitive this year in most of their losses. A couple breaks one way or the other and their record looks a whole lot different. Their record is the same as the bengals, but i don't think anyone would argue they are equally scary opponents.

10. Baltimore was aided by an atrocious 'pass interference' call leading to their second TD. Both the defeneder the receiver went up for the ball, the defender broke it up -> pass interference? Am i just looking for excuses to yell at the TV on sundays? Or did anyone else see this?

11. Miami is just lucky that Pennington hurt his knee almost immediately. Why the heck did they bench Henne for Pennington anyway? I don't get it.

Amen BwBw, people put too much wieght on good/bad 'luck' plays that happen in the endzone and give ZERO weight to drive sustaining/stopping plays along the way. Both teams made plenty of plays that coulda/shoulda/woulda cost them the game. In the end, stillers came out on top, so people just revert back to the latest gaffe and jump on it as the sole cause for the outcome. (And that was Johnson's FIFTH drop of the game! If he catches one of those other drops, maybe the game doesn't even go to overtime? And if i didn't have this beerbelly, maybe i'd be a famous rockstar that is married to 12 supermodels and has cured cancer?'s all speculation.) What is fact: Stiller 8-3, Buff Bills 2-9.

Hahaha, great point Eric! Does any team currently in a playoff spot have more shaky wins than the NY Jets? Though we can always add a few stillers wins into that conversation.

Anonymous said...

Dropped passes like that are the reason the Bills are the Bills and sitting at 2-9 despite being a competitive force against good teams in the league. Good teams can overcome the questionable calls and the hiccups by their players. Bad teams lose a game and decide to blame everyone they can, including the big guy upstairs. Also: Andre Johnson vs. Courtland Finnegan, any thoughts?

Bababooey said...

I guess I was a little to quick to call the end of the game "lucky", you guys are right. It is what it is, and now time to move on. 8-3 is nice at this point in the season.

I saw the Courtland beat down eventually coming. That guy gets into it every weekend with some one. He had Hines by the face mask earlier this year. Andre Johnson lost his cool, now both will be suspended. I want to see what the fines and suspensions will be, though.

HomeRunFromBehindTheMeatballs said...

Yeah... it there any possible way that BOTH players don't get suspended for at least one game? Oh wait, yes there is. The decision is SOLELY up to Goodell, and his logic is probably quite similar to South Park's portrayal of the government's method for determining whether or not to bail out the banks.

Koz said...

Seeing as Seymour didn't get suspended and he has priors, I don't know why Andre Johnson should get suspended.

The NFL seems like they are starting to borrow the NHL's Wheel of Justice.

Unknown said...

This is just another typical game in the Bruce Arians era. Steelers let a lesser team hang in the game because the offense is unable to put it away early (ONLY 19 POINTS against the 29th defense in the NFL????).

Then either Ben's late game heroics or the Steelers D bails out Arians' sorry ass in the end. This time it was old fashioned lady-luck that bailed them out, though.

You can blame penalties, O-Line, dropped passes, etc....but at some point ARIANS has got to be held accountable. An offense with this much talent should not be struggling to score especially in an era where scoring is considerably higher than ever before!


Bababooey said...

Agree with Nick on Arians.

BurressWithButterflywings said...

I don't blame Andre Johnson for pounding Finnegan's head in. The dude started that and ripped his freaking helmet off. He has need a good butt whipping for a while.

Unknown said...

i'm usually on the fire arians bandwagon, but not this game.

i was expecting him to throw the ball all day against the league's worst pass defense - he mixed it up pretty well.

And the plays he did call worked all day long - it was the penalties that kept taking them away and putting the team in a difficult to convert situation.

Shouldn't the line coach, the head coach, or the refs themselves be the ones held accountable?

potus said...

Regarding the telecast:

1. Did anyone else notice Solomon Wilcots continue to refer to Ben "Rottlisberger"? Maybe this is just me being particular, but it got annoying quick.

2. I was also unaware of the McFadden injury, except for the fact that Kevin Harlan always announced how many DB's were on the field. I don't think Anthony Madison's name has been mentioned that often on a telecast ever. Every single time it was "Fitzpatrick up against 5 defensive backs" or "Pittsburgh lines up in the dime" or "Madison in as the nickel back". It became comical how he would announce that every time.

Too bad HD sets have that delay which doesn't allow for turning down the sound and the radio up.

Borsk said...

Counterpoint to the defensive back thing: Bill Hilgrove also does this before every play when the Steelers are on defense.

The way the TV cameras are positioned, you can't really tell what defensive package is on the field. I appreciate the description of the play rather than a ridiculous/obscure stat.

Unknown said...

How did Johnson and Finnegan only get 25k each for literally fighting on the field? But Harrison gets fined gratuitous amounts for tackling people hard...

BurressWithButterflywings said...

I def noticed Wilcots saying Beeeeun Rutlissbugger.

I just went back and watched a few key things on the DVR. A couple points of contention:

- Our o-line is awful, but there was a 3rd and 17 the Bills converted where the RT and RG for the Bills absolutely underhooked Farrior's arms or Fitzpatrick was toast. They also choked Woodley on the same drive on a big play. If our line did it, and they did, it would be called, and it was.

- On our first drive of the 2nd half we had a 3rd and 4 where the Bills got away with blatant PI on Moore.

- On the RTP on Harrison, his helmet went directly into Fitzpatrick's chest. Fitzpatrick's chin only was hit when he put his head forward. The ref had the flag out before they were even falling to the ground.

There are a lot of plays in football games that are miss opportunities, bad calls, bad bounces, etc. No matter what happens, you are what your record says you are. Good teams overcome bad calls and missed calls and bad bounces and missed plays.

We are 8-3 and need to improve, but yesterday's game would have never needed a Stevie Johnson drop had one of those aforementioned plays been called properly.

Next week, we will have our hands full.

BAMAQT said...

Sunday felt like "Groundhog day" I was reliving the Alabama - Auburn game. At least the Steeler game had a better outcome. sort of....

Borsk said...

As far as everyone predicting "doom" on Sunday goes, the Ravens/Steelers games NEVER reflect the current performance of either team. The Ravens could be 0-11 and the Steelers could be 11-0 and I would still call it a coin-flip.

They are always good games.