By Ray Porter Jr.
PITTSBURGH, PA-If there was such a thing as a ‘complete’ Preseason game, the Pittsburgh Steelers played one today as they defeated the Buffalo Bills 27-15 in front of an Acrisure Stadium crowd of 64,046.
“There were some good things to be excited about from a performance perspective, it was going pretty well,” said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “That’s why we got the first units out of the game relatively early.”
On Thursday, Tomlin said that the first teamers would get significant playing time, and they got just that as they played most of the First Quarter and put on a stellar performance as they punched the Bills in the mouth en route to a 14-0 lead. QB Kenny Pickett led the offense on two scoring drives. The first resulted in an amazing 62-yard run by RB Jaylen Warren, and the second on a 25-yard TD pass from Pickett to TE Pat Freiermuth, which was aided by a spectacular 57-yard punt return by WR Calvin Austin III.
Meanwhile, the first-team defense forced QB Josh Allen and the Bills to two 3-and-outs and a punt.
“When the first units operate the way they operated, it really provides a platform for others to show their skills. I thought the guys were engaged,” said Tomlin. “I thought they did some fundamental things well. That makes them a tough team to beat. I didn’t think we were highly penalized. I thought we largely maintained possession of the ball. Those types of things. We played the field position game. We kept them on the long field with our midfield punting.”
The first-team offense was replaced but the 2nd-team led by veteran Mitch Trubisky who led the Steelers on another scoring drive as he found TE Connor Heyward for a 3-yard TD. This came after a sack and forced fumble by rookie LB Nick Herbig. Enter QB Mason Rudolph, who led the Steelers on two scoring drives that resulted in Chris Boswell giving the Steelers a 27-0 lead in the 3rd quarter. On defense, the Steelers got interceptions from CBs Chandon Sullivan, Elijah Riley, and Joey Porter, Jr., who in turn gave the ball to his father, Joey Porter Sr., who was sitting in the stands.
The Bills would score two late-TDs in the 4th quarter, but the game was already out of reach as the Steelers improved their record to 2-0 and will travel to Atlanta to face the Falcons Thursday night.
“They did enough to check the boxes for Week 2 of the preseason. Because Week 3 is coming so quickly, we moved forward and got some exposure to some other people.” Said Tomlin. “I’m appreciative of that. When the first team performs the way they performed, it really provides a platform for others to show their skills.”
Notes: Prior to the game, the Steelers had a special ceremony honoring HOF RB Franco Harris as they unveiled his retired #32 in the Great Hall Museum at Acrisure Stadium.
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