A good day for the Pittsburgh Steelers starters on offense, as they quickly put 13 points on the board on their two first quarter series.
What Wen Right?
It only took two plays for the Steelers offense to score its first touchdown of the game. After a short pass to Dri Archer that gained 4 yards, Ben Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown perfectly in strike on a quick slant toward the middle of the field. Brown split the Buffalo safeties and raced untouched to complete the 76-yard catch-and-run for the Steelers’ first offensive touchdown of the preseason.
He had done it to Bruce Gradkowski, but that was during a padless practice in OTAs. When Ryan Shazier did it to E.J. Manuel it was during a preseason game that was serving as Shazier’s NFL debut. With tight end Scott Chandler running a pattern rather deep down the middle, Shazier was with him step-for-step. When the ball was thrown, Shazier turned, found the ball, made the interception and returned it 29 yards. Eight plays later, the Steelers had a 13-3 lead following a touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Markus Wheaton.
That touchdown pass was a beautiful throw by Roethlisberger on a post-corner route by Wheaton, but making the catch and getting his feet down in bounds and then maintaining possession of the ball as required in the end zone was a play a professional receiver must make. Wheaton did that.
A nice defensive stand by the Steelers first-team unit with just over five minutes left in the first half. On a third-and-1 from the Pittsburgh 25-yard line, Lawrence Timmons stuffed RB Anthony Dixon for no gain. Then on fourth-and-1, Cam Heyward batted E.J. Manuel’s pass at the line of scrimmage.
A nice stand by the defense at the end of the first half. Taking over at the Pittsburgh 42-yard line following Nickell Roby’s interception of a Landry Jones pass, the Bills moved to a first-and-goal at the 6-yard line. On first down, Shamarko Thomas stopped RB Fred Jackson for no gain after a swing pass. On fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line, E.J. Manuel’s pass into the end zone for TE Scott Chandler was stripped out by Robert Golden.
Robert Golden put together a nice game. In addition to the pass he defensed in the end zone at the end of the first half, he also recovered a fumble in the third quarter that was forced by Shamarko Thomas; and then on a third-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 34-yard line, he intercepted a pass at the 23-yard line that was intended for TE Chris Gragg.
The snap-hold-kick sequence was executed nicely on Shaun Suisham’s 48-yard field goal that gave the Steelers a 16-13 lead. Bryce Davis was the snapper and Brad Wing was the holder.
With a three-point lead and punting from the Pittsburgh 39-yard line in a 16-13 game, Brad Wing got off a 50-yarder.
Vic So’oto and Howard Jones combined for some magic for the second time this preseason. One week after So’oto got his hand on the lateral that Jones ended up returning for a touchdown against the Giants, the same pair created the turnover that set up the game-deciding field goal. On third-and-4 from the Buffalo 35-yard line with less than a minute left in a tie game, So’oto beat OT Cyrus Kouandjio and performed a sack/strip on Jeff Tuel. Jones picked up the loose ball and ran it to the Bills’ 1-yard line.
What Went Wrong?
It’s never a good thing when the placekicker has to make a tackle, and Shaun Suisham had to make the tackle on the opening kickoff after a 42-yard return by C.J. Spiller.
It was a third-and-3, and E.J. Manuel’s pass bounced at Sammy Watkins’ feet, but Cortez Allen got a hand to the receiver’s face just off the line of scrimmage, and the penalty was good for a first down at the Pittsburgh 28-yard line that kept the drive alive.
Coach Mike Tomlin said he didn’t care about extra points being kicked from the 15-yard line because Shaun Suisham didn’t care. Maybe that changes to some degree because Suisham missed the PAT after Antonio Brown’s touchdown.
It was going to be a third-and-5 for the Bills after a 2-yard run by C.J. Spiller, but Mike Mitchell was penalized 15 yards for taunting. That gave the Bills a first down at the Pittsburgh 49-yard line.
As it turned out, it wasn’t all roses for Ryan Shazier against the Bills at Heinz Field. After a pressure by Jason Worilds drew an intentional grounding penalty that set up a third-and-27, Shazier again was in coverage on tight end Scott Chandler. After catching a short pass, Chandler spun to the inside, and when Shazier lost his footing he was able to turn the play into a 24-yard gain. That was good enough for Dan Carpenter to come on and kick a 53-yard field goal that made it a 13-6 Steelers lead.
Landry Jones was the quarterback who followed Ben Roethlisberger onto the field. On his first attempt, Jones threw into double coverage in an attempt to get the ball to Lance Moore over the middle, and CB Nickell Roby intercepted for the Bills.
Landry Jones’ second turnover of the night, a lost fumble following a sack/strip by DT Stefan Charles. Defensive tackle Landon Cohen recovered the fumble and ran it 59 yards to the Pittsburgh 16-yard line. From there, the Bills scored the touchdown that tied the game, 13-13, which is how it was entering the fourth quarter.