Bills Humiliate Steelers 38-3

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By Ray Porter, Jr

ORCHARD PARK, NY–If last week’s loss to the NY Jets was a disappointment to the struggling Pittsburgh Steelers, then what they faced against the Super Bowl Favorite-Buffalo Bills would be described as a disaster.

As 14-point underdogs, most media experts did not give the Steelers a chance, and their predictions were correct as the Steelers were victims of a 38-3 rout in a hostile environment at Highmark Stadium.

“No need to sugarcoat it. Today we got handled by a very good football team. There’s nothing mystical about it. They did some of the things to Tennessee, so we know it’s capable of happening,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “I’m just disappointed that we didn’t coach well enough or play well enough to prevent it from happening today, and that’s just the reality of it. So, we’ve got to absorb the position that we’re in and what transpired today.”

The Steelers were outmatched, outmuscled, and outplayed against the Bills, who evoked memories of their AFC Championship years of 1990-93. But instead of Hall of Fame QB Jim Kelly leading the way, it was NFL MVP candidate Josh Allen doing the honors as he threw 98-yard TD pass to WR James Davis and a 7-0 just 2 minutes into the game. Allen would also connect with Davis (3 Rec, 171 yards) for a 62-yard TD pass in the 2nd quarter. Allen (20/31, 424 yards, 4 TD, Int) would also complete TD passes to WR Stefon Diggs (8 Rec, 102 yards) and Khalil Shakur (3 Rec, 75 yards) RB James Cook would also add a 24-yard run in the 4th quarter to close out the scoring.

It was not the best scenario for Steelers rookie QB Kenny Pickett as he made his first start against the Bills. Although he scratched and clawed all day, he was unable to get into the end zone and the best the Steelers could do was settle for a FG by K Chris Boswell in the first quarter. Unfortunately, it was not the best day for Boswell as he missed 2 more. Pickett would finish the day passing for 327 yards (24/52) and an interception. Fellow Rookie George Pickens would catch 6 passes for 83 yards, but it wasn’t a day for ‘feel-goods’ as Tomlin would say.

“Satisfied with the effort? We just got smashed. What are we talking about here, guys?” Tomlin retorted.

Regarding Pickett: “I thought he was highly competitive. But I’m not dissecting it in this way as I stand here right now. We got smashed, and that’s the only perspective that I have. I understand the nature of your question,” said Tomlin. “It’s his first start, so you’ve got to write a story, etcetera, but football is the ultimate team game. That’s why we all love it so much. That’s why we all respect it so much. And we got smashed as a collective today. So, I don’t have a lot of individual analysis.”

There were two things that were missing from the Steelers Sunday:

1. The Running game as they were unable to penetrate the Bills’ defensive line and could only manage 54 total yards, led by rookie Jaylen Warren’s 24. 2nd year RB Najee Harris had 20, and many expressed concerns as he didn’t look 100% when he was on the field.

2. Defense: For the 2nd straight week, this unit didn’t live up to the standards and legacy of the organization as they didn’t appear to have much fire as they gave up 38 points, with no pressure on the QB (0 sacks) and a struggling secondary. It is obvious that not only are the Steelers sorely missing 2021 Defensive Player of the Year TJ Watt, but also CB Ahkello Witherspoon, and S Terrell Edmunds.

The Steelers are now 1-4, their worst start since 2019, and that team rebounded to nearly make the playoffs with an 8-8 record. The Steelers may have an advantage with an extra game, but is this team good enough to do the same? Time will tell, but this team needs fixing because everything they are trying to do is not working.

“You play like we played today; you’ve got to be open to doing whatever is required to change the outcome of these games. That’s a given. I don’t think anybody is going to be surprised by our willingness to turn over whatever stone to change the outcomes of games like what transpired today. That’s just appropriate,” Tomlin commented.

Late Hall of Fame head coach Chuck Noll once told the Steelers, “If I have to motivate you, I will fire you…”. Could Tomlin be in that same predicament with the 2022 Steelers? Again, time will tell as the Steelers will now return home to face QB Tom Brady and the NFC South-Leading Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2)

“The first thing to do is watch the tape and to assess what transpired and learn and grow from it, and then plot the course for our next opportunity,” Tomlin said. “We repeat a similar process week in and week out because we just believe in that approach to what it is that we do. The challenges keep coming in the NFL, so you’d better be systematic and rhythmic in terms of how you deal with it. Although today is miserable, we won’t reinvent the wheel. We’ll evaluate our performance, we’ll own it, we’ll learn from it, and then we’ll begin the process of plotting the course for our next opportunity.”

Notes: Tomlin addressed the injuries: “[Larry] Ogunjobi has got a back that didn’t allow him to play or finish, so he’s got to be evaluated. Cam Sutton was a hamstring; couldn’t finish. We’ve got a couple concussions, Levi Wallace, [Pat] Freiermuth with concussions. I’m sure you guys know by now; Steven Sims sustained an eye injury in pregame that made things testy for him from a kick return and receiving perspective, in terms of some blurry vision and stuff like that.”

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