Buffalo Bills Preseason Game 3 Recap

Bills 16     Steelers 19

I knew after the decent game we had prior that it was time to see our starters score a touchdown in this one. The game starts with Pittsburgh kicking off and I am shocked when the kick returner is C.J. Spiller. Isn’t he our starting running back? What the heck is Doug Marrone thinking? If this resulted in an injury to Spiller you know Marrone would be on the hot seat. This is one of those calls like the 10 per game we questioned in every game Dick Jauron coached!

Spiller received the kick and runs through some pretty heavy traffic all the way to our 36 yard line. He got hit pretty good but bounced up and ran to the sidelines. I have seen kick returners not get up and to have Spiller doing this is absolutely insane.

On first down Fred Jackson runs for 3 yards and on second down EJ Manuel hits Fred Jackson for 4. On third down EJ looks real good as he completes a nice one to Scott Chandler for the first down. A couple runs follow initiated by FB Frank Summers who runs for 8 then Spiller is back where he belongs and runs for the first down. Bills are looking good.

EJ runs out of the pocket and gains 5, then Spiller runs for 2. On third down with all going well the sky falls down. Yes, if you are a Bills fan you would say we are cursed because on this next down EJ passed to our wide receiver savior, Sammy Watkins and the worst occurred. Manuel underthrew him and Sammy took some unnecessary shots that looked harmless but…he gets injured. What luck! It becomes a rib injury and all we can do is hope he is fine, but how many times have we seen an injury change how a player plays?

Watkins Injury - The Herd Report

So many I cannot count!
Yes, I am paranoid…I’m a Bills fan!

A flag is thrown on Pittsburgh and we get another first down. Jackson runs for 5 and catches a nice screen pass for 4 and on third down Manuel throws his worst pass as he now overthrows wide receiver Robert Woods. We are in field goal range and once again our starters cannot get in the end zone and we settle for a Dan Carpenter 37 - yard field goal for a 3 to 0 lead.

The Steelers would start at their 20 with no return from a great kickoff. Ben Roethlisberger who had not played much the week prior against the Giants was ready to put on a show. Going with the no-huddle offense where they pass, pass and pass, big Ben hits his first pass for 4 then throws to Antonio Brown who runs all the way for a 76 yard touchdown. Only 2 plays! Da’Norris Searcy was beaten pretty badly and the Steelers would go up 6-3 with their extra point being missed by Shaun Suisham.

Pitt vs Bills  - The Herd Report

Luckily Marrone does not have another brain freeze and put another starter back to return this next kick (hey after C.J. you never know) and T.J. Graham returns the kick 18 yards to our 19.

Spiller for 2 then EJ hits Mike Williams for 10 and we are moving the ball again very nicely. Then another short run and penalty by the Steelers and we are on the 50 yard line. Jackson loses yards on a screen then EJ hurts us again with a very bad throw to Scott Chandler which resulted in Brian Shazier intercepting for the Steelers.

The Steelers move down the field again helped by a penalty on Mario Williams. Roethlisberger continues to shine as he finds Markus Wheaton for another quick touchdown from a 16 yard passing play. Stephon Gilmour continues his horrific play with allowing the same type of pass to beat him. This is becoming worrisome as it is becoming a trend. This time Suisham makes the extra point and the Steelers take a 13-3 lead.

T.J. Graham returns their kickoff very nicely to our 36. He is fighting for a job as a receiver but with so much talent, he now finds himself trying to make himself even more useful as a kick returner. He did a very nice job of that in this game.

Another bad pass from EJ then another good one for 4 to woods. Manuel then hits Chandler for 8 and we are moving the ball again. The trend so far is EJ looks good on some and very bad on others. Inconsistency is what you would call his play. 

He continues with missing Chris Hogan then completing a 12 yard pass to Jackson. Then all starts to go wrong for him. He throws the ball out of bounds then attempts to throw to no one just prior to being sacked. What is remarkable here is that intentional grounding was not being called and only upon Steelers coach Mike Tomlin going nuts does it then miraculously get called. What the heck is going on here! It is then third and 27 and EJ makes a nice throw to Scott Chandler for 25 of those 27 yards. The Bills decide to go for a 53 yard field goal and Mr. reliable, Dan Carpenter has no problem with it and the Bills are down by 6.

The Steelers cannot do much when they take over on offense and the Bills look like they are getting stronger. Actually they dominated the time of possession and most of the other statistics but were still down.

EJ again moves the Bills down the field with crisp passes and nice runs by Anthony Dixon. it became fourth and 1 and in field goal range Marrone wanted to go for it. I do not disagree with going for it, but a run to get 1 simple yard would have been the way to go. Instead Manuel threw it and had the ball batted down. Our receiver was held and a flag was thrown but a batted down ball allows for contact and the Bills lost the ball on downs.

This was a frustrating game to say the least.

Now it became interesting as Pittsburg then put their backups in and the Bills still had many of their starters in. I feel the same as a few weeks back when the Bills backups went against the Giants starters, that this is not fair. Now it was not in our favor.

The backup Steelers would struggle and CB Nickel Robey would intercept and the Bills would again be on offense. It felt like we were on offense most of the game.

The Bills would move the ball again and EJ who already had taken 36 snaps at that point, would go back in with most of his starters against most of the Steelers backups. It would come down to another fourth down play with only seconds to go in the half. On fourth down EJ threw to Chandler and it was incomplete. Another drive where not only did we not score a touchdown, but earned no points at all! EJ would finish this day 17 of 27 for 148 yards with 1 interception.

The second half would be a flag fest. The Bills came into this game as the least penalized and this game seemed like it was the most penalized. It’s pretty bad when you’re at home watching and with all the ref face time, you know their name like it’s a movie with them being a co-star! 

The best news is that our backups would be in and so far in games, our backups have scored touchdowns!
I love some of our defensive rookies and DT Stefan Charles gets a sack right away and the Steelers go nowhere and punt.

Thad Lewis is now in and hands off to Dixon for the first few plays which resulted in a first down. He throws a pass to FB Evan Rodriguez who steamrolls through players for a big gain but shockingly then fumbles and the Steelers recover. 

Our defensive Rookies dominate again as DT Landon Cohen makes a tackle for a loss. Then we put a lot of pressure on them but they complete a 35 yard play with LB Preston Brown looking pretty bad on that one.

Then Ron Brooks gets called for holding and the Steelers are on the move. A huge play occurs for the Bills when LB Jacquies Smith sacks Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones and Landon Cohen picks up the ball and rumbles and tumbles his 300 pound body down the field for 63 yards. The Bills get an interference call in their favor and the ball is placed on the 1 yard line. Anthony Dixon scores and with Carpenters extra point it’s tied at 13.

Pittsburgh can do nothing against our defense that included starter Aaron Williams who broke up a play and the Steelers had to punt once again. Why Williams was in was questionable.

The next Bills drive would be about Thad Lewis looking terrible. He threw the ball worse than I have ever seen him in this one. The Bills would punt.
The Steelers would again go at it but a tackle by LB sensation Randall Johnston would be a show stopper. The Steelers would punt.
The Bills would continue to struggle under Lewis who would continue to throw badly then he is intercepted by Steelers Robert Golden.

After the Steelers were once again stopped, Jeff Tuel would take over in the fourth. He drove the Bills down for a field goal try and this time Carpenter was wide right.
Pittsburgh would have a nice drive and not miss their field goal of 48 yards which gave them a 3 point lead.
The teams traded punts and finally Buffalo put it in gear and again settled for a Carpenter field goal that tied the game.

With time running down the Steelers were driving off a nice third down run by their quarterback Landry Jones, but on the next play he was intercepted by Safety Deon Broomfield.

Pittsburgh vs Bills  - The Herd Report

Tuel then decided to look as bad as Lewis at the most critical point of the game. He completed 1 pass to Naaman Roosevelt, and on second down he got sacked. Then on third down he went back to pass and again was sacked but this time he made sure to drop the ball before going down. It seemed like he just dropped it! Howard Jones recovers it and runs all the way to the Bills 1 yard line and 2 plays later Shaun Suisham kicks the winning field goal. Our tackle Cyrus Kouandjio was beaten real bad on this play but Tuel needs to hold onto the ball. No excuses!

This game had terrible play from our backup quarterbacks and very inconsistent play from Manuel. Our starting offense still could not find the end zone which is very troubling. Defensively the Steelers starters scored quickly and easily on our starting defense which is troubling to say the least. Many rookies continue to shine especially Randell Johnson and Landon Cohen. 
We play our next game at home and hopefully we can play better in front of our fans.

Michael Okun
Sports Writer for The Herd Report.