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Steelers Lose DeCastro; Beat Up the Bills 38-7


Coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t blame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for showing his frustrations after a penalty that backed the Pittsburgh Steelers to a yard from their goal line.

Tomlin was just as upset with the penalty, and yet not surprised with how Roethlisberger responded.

After taking a step backward, Roethlisberger moved the Steelers forward with a 98-yard, go-ahead touchdown march in the final two minutes of the second quarter of a 38-7 preseason rout of the winless Buffalo Bills on Saturday night.

“I’ve been looking at Ben going on six years now, I’m not surprised by it,” Tomlin said.

Roethlisberger hit eight of nine passes for 95 yards on a drive he capped by threading a 6-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown with 13 seconds left. And the spark could be credited to an illegal substitution penalty that put the Steelers on their heels, facing second-and-11 from their 1 yard line.

Shortly after the penalty was called, Roethlisberger showed his displeasure by angrily gesturing at the bench.

“He definitely got fired up and got a little hyped,” Brown said. “He’s special. The things he’s able to do in two-minute situations, there’s something special about his leadership and playmaking ability.”

Brown had seven catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns, including a 39-yard catch from backup Byron Leftwich in the opening minute of the second half. Roethlisberger shook off a slow start in going 17 of 24 for 169 yards passing in helping the Steelers (No. 7 in the AP Pro32) improve to 2-1.

The Bills dropped to 0-3 this preseason while continuing a trend of familiar struggles on both offense and defense. And that’s not what coach Chan Gailey was looking for this week in expressing a desire to see more consistency from his starters.

“We got a little bit rattled,” Gailey said, referring to allowing the Steelers to score at the end of the half. “We have to hold our composure better than we did.”

The Ryan Fitzpatrick-led offense managed just 131 yards and seven first downs in playing the entire first half. It was limited to scoring just one touchdown — Fred Jackson’s 1-yard plunge — despite five of seven possessions inside Steelers territory.

“That goes down to consistency, and it’s something we need to get better at,” said Fitzpatrick.

And yet the starter remained upbeat, cautioning that this was only the preseason and adding that there isn’t need for concern.

“It’s going to be OK, it’s going to be OK, take a breath,” Fitzpatrick said on several occasions while making his way through the locker room.

Fitzpatrick finished 7 of 18 for 89 yards, while backup Vince Young struggled in his bid to clinch the No. 2 job. Young went 12 for 26 for 103 yards passing and two interceptions.

On the bright side, Bills defensive end Mario Williams— who became the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player after signing a six-year $100 million contract in March — was credited with his first two sacks of the preseason. Defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus also had a solid game in plugging the middle while also flushing Roethlisberger out of the pocket.

“I think it was a step forward,” Kyle Williams said. “After that sudden change, we didn’t respond well to it, but in the future hopefully we can put it behind us.”

The trouble was a failure to finish, in allowing the Steelers to score despite being backed up deep in their own end.

Steelers running back Isaac Redman also scored on a 2-yard run, Leftwich threw two touchdown passes, including a 10-yarder to Derrick Williams, and running back Chris Rainey scored on a 41-yard touchdown run with 2:44 left.

The Steelers defense also contributed, forcing three turnovers — a forced fumble and two interceptions — all of which led directly to touchdowns.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. DrGeorge

    August 26, 2012 at 10:24 am

    A 38-7 win is always welcome, but it sounds more impressive than it was. This is preseason after all, and the Bills are still the Bills — not the Ravens, Patriots, Packers, or Broncos. Big difference.

    Our improved speed on defense is the most encouraging sign of preseason. Last year, we lamented the lack of coverage speed. LeBeau has retooled the LB corps to solve the problem. Our pass rush is also improving, and Ziggy Hood is finally contributing when he is played inside rather than at DE. The D is also causing turnovers this year, although those interceptions last night were all gimmes, made possible by poor throws by the Bills QBs, especially V. Young. One concern is that our lighter, faster D has shown a weakness at stopping the run all preseason, and again last night against the Bills first team. Hopefully, that will right itself when our injured LBs (Harrison, Worilds, Sylvester) return.

    Despite the loss of DeCastro, the O-line is getting better at both pass protection and run blocking. Our ability to run when needed is still a work in progress, but Redman’s power and low running style elevates our running and passing efficiency in the redzone, as demonstrated last night. Here’s hoping Jason Ford makes the final cut, because he’s the only other RB we have with similar power, should Redman get tired or injured. Also give Dwyer credit for making two nice catches and having the presence of mind to get out of bounds to stop the clock when needed.

    While the loss of DeCastro is most unfortunate, R. Foster played well in his stead. Mike Adams also blocked better in this game, especially downfield on running plays. Starks whiffed on a couple of blocks, but he’s still playing himself into shape. He’ll come around.

    The only real negative is the continuing under-performance of the first team offense in the base set, which requires the QB to distribute the ball rather than carry the team with his arm. All of our QBs seem able to run it except Ben. He says he prefers the “no-huddle” or spread which allows him to call the plays, most of which naturally star Ben and his arm. He was nothing short of brilliant in that 2-minute drill before halftime. So brilliant, in fact, one wonders if Ben’s ego is still getting in the way of his execution of Halley’s base offense?

    No one (the team or the media) is talking about Jerrod Johnson (inactive last night), but his emergence at QB probably means C. Batch or B. Leftwich will be deemed expendable. Johnson has been impressive in all phases of the game: running, passing, and game management. Few NFL teams carry 3 QBs on the active roster. So far, Leftwich has outplayed Batch in preseason, but both of them are prone to injury, as is Ben. My guess is that Johnson will ease Batch into retirement and that injuries may force Johnson into the starting QB role before the season is over. Happily, Johnson has his ego under control and seems quite content to run any offensive Halley wants, and so far he has run them all well. Thanks to this K. Colbert find, the backup QB situation looks better this year than it has in years.

  2. Jomh phelps

    August 27, 2012 at 7:39 am

    the Steelers stink. Ask Denver

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