One week after holding the high-powered offense of the Green Bay Packers to 19 points, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense was humiliated in a 43-19 drubbing at the hands of the once-lowly Buffalo Bills.
The Steelers defense struggled mightily from the Bills first offensive snap, as Fred Jackson rumbled 41 yards through the secondary, all the way down to the Steelers 2-yard line. Two plays later, he gave the Bills an early lead with a 1-yard touchdown.
The Steelers defense was shredded by both the running and passing attacks of the Buffalo offense. Throughout the first half the Steelers allowed seven first downs and managed to miss several key tackles that could have limited Buffalo’s offense to punts or long third downs.
Ben Roethlisberger and DeAngelo Williams helped carved open first-year Bills coach Rex Ryan’s defense and kept it a tight contest early, with Williams’ 1-yard run capping off a 6-play, 80-yard drive for the Steelers first-team offense. The drive was aided by a 35-yard pass interference penalty on Buffalo cornerback Ronald Darby drawn by Martavis Bryant.
Roethlisberger contributed only one series, going 2-for-4 for 30 yards.
On the second offensive drive for the Bills, it was free agent signee Charles Clay that did in the Steelers. The athletic tight end, brought over from the Miami Dolphins over the offseason, split the safeties and hauled in E.J. Manuel’s pass for a 67-yard catch-and-run score.
After a week of debate and controversy, coaches and fans alike finally were able to see Michael Vick in a Steelers uniform. Vick wasted no time in quieting doubters, as he launched a 63-yard pass to Bryant deep into Buffalo territory.
Bryant, who is expected to miss the first four games of the season because of a failed drug test, showed why he will be missed, as he finished the game with 138 yards and a touchdown on only three catches.
At the half, the Steelers trailed, 23-19, and they suffered yet another loss due to injury, as rookie outside linebacker Bud Dupree left the game at the half with a foot injury.
In the second half, it was more of the same for the Steelers defense, as Tyrod Taylor led the Buffalo offense straight down the field after the Bills took the opening kickoff of the second half.
The 10-play, 78-yard drive was capped off by a 20-yard scramble by Taylor, who outran inside linebacker Shawn Spence to the goal line. Taylor’s touchdown ended his day, as Manuel came back into the game. Taylor finished the afternoon 12-of-13 for 122 yards passing to lead the Bills, who played four quarterbacks.
After a three-and-out by the Steelers offense under Jones, the Bills would strike again with Manuel back under center. The drive got started with a 22 yard run by Cierre Wood, who had a huge hole due to a missed assignment in the Steelers front seven. Two plays later, Manuel found Tobias Palmer for a 37-yard strike over safety Aldon Darby.
Jones struggled mightily to move the Steelers offense outside of his first drive. He finished 7-of-12 for just 77 yards, 39 of which were on the one long pass to Bryant.
Matt Simms, the Bills fourth quarterback of the afternoon, finished the scoring with a 14-yard touchdown pass to tight end Chris Gragg in the fourth quarter.
One of the few bright spots for the Steelers on the day was punter Jordan Berry, who seems to have gained some traction in his battle with incumbent Brad Wing. Berry averaged 50 yards on four kicks, including a 78-yard boomer and one downed inside the 20-yard line. He also handled the kickoff duties in place of the injured Hartley.
The Steelers have one more preseason game, which will be held at Heinz Field next Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers, but before that, they must cut their roster down to 75 players by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
PSN’s Alan Saunders also contributed to this report.
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