By Tyler Sweet
A win is a win. Despite looking sloppy early on and not capitalizing on several scoring opportunities, the Steelers walked away with a much needed win against a Buffalo Bills team desperate for a win of their own. With little hope left for the remainder of this season, the Steelers refused to lay down and let a weak Bills team led by a rookie quarterback walk out of Pittsburgh with a victory.
The Steelers needed to make drastic improvements on defense following the worst performance in franchise history last weekend against the New England Patriots. There is a big difference between Tom Brady and EJ Manuel, but in a season with more downs than ups, I will give credit where credit is due.
The beginning of the game started very sloppy with several three and outs and a horrible interception by Ben that may have been affected by the strong swirling winds whipping around Heinz Field. The offensive line continues to struggle and gave up another 4 sacks to a talented Bills defensive line. The story on offense this week however was the running game.
The Steelers wanted to establish the run and although Le’Veon Bell did not have a big game statistically, the fact that he ran over twenty times shows at least an attempt to incorporate the run game a little more to set up play action and keep the defense honest. Making the most out of his second chance with the team, Jonathan Dwyer rushed the ball six times for 38 yards, and looked very good on 3rd down, converting several for first downs.
Several of the Steelers drives looked good but ultimately resulted in field goals. If this team has any hope in contending in one of the weakest divisions in all of football, then they need to find ways to finish drives in the endzone as opposed to a Shaun Suisham field goal. Offensive Grade: B-
With Tom Brady in the rear view mirror, the Steelers defense had a lot to prove this week as a unit. A good way to get back on track is to match up against a rookie quarterback who happens to be coming off an injury. EJ Manuel was under pressure the entire game and was forced to rush his throws. Lawrence Timmons had one of the biggest hits on a quarterback this season when he dropped Manuel in the backfield for a sack.
Cameron Heyward continued to play well and recorded another sack of his own. Even rookie Jarvis Jones, who seems to be struggling to adjust to the professional level, recorded his first career sack. The secondary looked much better than they have recently and did not allow Bills receivers to break out for big gains. Yes, EJ Manuel and the Bills may not be an offensive powerhouse but the Steelers defense took advantage of every opportunity and held CJ Spiller and company to 95 yards rushing. Defensive Grade: A-
With strong winds affecting both punters, I am not ready to put too much blame on Matt McBriar for a couple short punts. In one of the hardest stadiums to kick in, Shaun Suisham was a perfect 3-3 and got his job done. Coverage teams prevented any sort of big return and kept the Bills deep in their own territory. Special Teams Grade: B-
Coming off a horrible loss, the coaching staff seemed to have prepared the team much better and put together a gameplan worthy of a win. With now less than half a season remaining, the Steelers need to take advantage of a weak division and make the most of every opportunity that comes their way. As always, please comment or tweet us @SteelersGab with your grades for this weeks game!