BBD Assistant Editor: Ryan Talbot
The Buffalo Bills had their worst game of the season on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Buffalo struggled to move the ball until the Steelers went into a prevent defense to end the game. The 23-10 loss moves Buffalo to 3-7 on the year.
Buffalo was pretty much out of the playoff picture entering the game, but this loss sealed the deal. The Bills need to focus on developing their younger players in their final six games.
Today, Buffalo’s biggest problem was their offense. EJ Manuel, making his first start since Week 5, looked out of sync all game. He finished the game going 22 of 39 for 155 yards. Manuel didn’t attempt to stretch the field much during the game, and in many situations he lead his receivers into hard hits. While Thad Lewis may keep the Bills in more games, Buffalo needs to see what they have in Manuel heading into the 2014 season.
Buffalo’s running game wasn’t much better today, but that’s mostly due to the fact that the Steelers stacked the box due to Manuel’s ineffectiveness. Fred Jackson had 55 yards on 12 carries and C.J. Spiller added 23 yards on eight carries.
Defensively, Stephon Gilmore had his roughest outing of the year as he struggled to keep up with Steelers receivers. Roethlisberger wasn’t great but he found a way to complete 18 of 30 passes for 204 yards. In the run game, Le’Veon Bell and Jonathan Dwyer both had success at times.
Overall, today was a game where nothing went right for the Bills. Don’t expect next week’s game against the Jets to be sold out after today’s effort.
Chris Gragg catches his his first touchdown pass of his career and the Bills make the game look closer than it really was.
The Bills have one last chance to score a touchdown.
Manuel connects with Goodwin, but he couldn’t get into the end zone.
Easley takes a hard shot, but catches the ball. Third and goal for the Bills.
Manuel throws the ball away on first down and gets called for intentional grounding.
The referees call the pass incomplete and overturn their decision. It’s Buffalo’s ball on the Steelers’ 3 yard line.
Manuel looks as though he had his hand moving forward, but the refs called the play a fumble. The Steelers recovered the ball, but the play is under review.
The Bills have a 1st and goal. Again, this is mostly due to Pittsburgh playing prevent defense.
Manuel hits Goodwin on a longer pass, but offsetting penalties bring the ball back to Buffalo’s 27 yard line.
The Steelers are clearly in prevent mode, so take this drive with a grain of salt.
What a catch by Chris Hogan. One hand grab to move the chains, but Hogan hits his head hard on the ground.
Another short pass by Manuel moves the chains. This time, the pass goes to Scott Chandler.
Buffalo gains seven yards on first down after a short Manuel pass.
Aaron Williams breaks up a pass intended for Heath Miller on 3rd down. Suisham adds a 23 yard field goal and the Steelers now lead 23-3.
Bell picks up five yards on second down. It’s 3rd and 4 for the Steelers.
Bell picks up a yard on first down.
Antonio Brown with a huge return for the Steelers. The game was already over, but this seals the deal as the team has the ball on Buffalo’s 11 yard line.
Manuel takes back to back sacks to end this drive. There’s really not much to say about Buffalo’s pathetic effort.
Manuel gets sacked on second down and the offense continues to looks awful.
Pittsburgh kicks the ball out of bounds and Buffalo gets the ball on their own 40.
Stevie Johnson is walking off of the field with a groin injury. He looks as though he’s done for the day.
Suisham makes a 37 yard field goal to make the score 20-3. There’s still 8 minutes remaining, but this game is pretty much over based upon Buffalo’s lack of offense.
Roethlisberger overthrows Sanders on third down. The Steelers have a very manageable field goal attempt on the way.
Bell loses another yard on second down. Third and 15 on the way for the Steelers.
Marcell Dareus stops Bell for a 4 yard loss on first down, but the Steelers are likely to get points on this drive.
Goodwin was tackled before the ball got there, but that pass was terrible.
Manuel makes an awful throw on first down and gets intercepted. Ryan Clark returns the ball 37 yards.
McKelvin muffs the punt return, but he was able to pick the ball up and run out of bounds.
Jerry Hughes collects his second sack of the game as the Steelers will be forced to punt.
It’s 3rd and 11 for the Steelers after a Roethlisberger incomplete pass.
Dwyer gains 17 yards on first down to keep the chains moving for the Steelers.
Emmanuel Sanders converts the first down as Stephon Gilmore couldn’t keep up in coverage.
Felix Jones gains six yards total on first and second down. Third and four for the Bills. Buffalo needs a stop here.
Pittsburgh takes over on their own 11.
Buffalo’s punt on 4th down is maddening as they are down 14 points and had the ball on Pittsburgh’s 36 yard line.
Johnson makes a nice catch on third down, but he doesn’t get both feet down. Fourth down for the Bills and the team is punting it, rather than go for it.
Jackson gains about one yard on second down. It’s 3rd and 5 for the Bills.
Fred Jackson gains 5 yards on first down as the third quarter ends.
The Bills gain 2 yards yards on first down after a short run. Manuel picks up the first down with his feet on second down.
Roethlisberger gets sacked by Jerry Hughes on third and nine. Pittsburgh punts just outside of their end zone.
Buffalo declined the illegal formation penalty after Bell gains one yard on first down. Heath Miller drops a screen pass on 2nd and 9. Third and long for the Steelers.
Steelers get called for an illegal formation on first down and the team now faces a 1st and 15.
The Steelers get called for holding on the punt and will start the drive at their own 26 yard line.
Manuel goes deep on third and three and it’s long. Buffalo is punting for the seventh time today.
Manuel throws an extremely dangerous pass on first down between a few Steelers that goes incomplete.
The extra point is good and the Steelers lead 17-3. Buffalo needs to respond before this game gets away from them.
Le’Veon Bell runs over the Bills defense and the team takes a 16-3 lead with the extra point attempt on the way.
A swing pass to Antonio Brown is good for two yards. Second and goal for the Steelers.
Marcell Dareus jumps on fourth down, as did most of the other players, and it gives the Steelers a first down and goal.
Roethlisberger throws the pass a bit too high and it falls incomplete.
Bell picks up close to three yards on second down to set up a 3rd and 3.
Bell gains five yards on first down.
Gilmore gets spun around again and the Steelers get 30 yards on first down. Antonio Brown made Gilmore look foolish on the play.
I’m a bit baffled as to why the Bills didn’t attempt to run the ball on third and short there.
Buffalo makes the mistake of throwing on 3rd and short. The Bills punt and Antonio Brown returns it 24 yards to the Steelers’ 42 yard line.
Chandler gains close to eight yards on second down. It’s 3rd and 1 for the Bills.
Fred Jackson finds a way to gain one yard after slipping and falling following an EJ Manuel pass.
Stevie Johnson gains 20 yards on first down for the Bills. Ike Taylor was injured on the play.
The Bills get called for an illegal block in the back on the kick return and will be buried deep in their own territory.
Dareus creates a strip fumble on third down, but Roethlisberger lands on the ball. The Steelers are forced to punt.
Roethlisberger throws the ball away on second down after Dareus misses a sack opportunity.
Bell runs to midfield and gains three yards on first down.
Roethlisberger makes a great pass on third down to Antonio Brown for 20 yards. McKelvin had decent coverage.
Bell gains eight on second down on a short pass from Roethlisberger. Third and three for the Steelers.
Bell loses one yard on first and ten.
Buffalo is forced to punt and the ball goes out of the end zone for a touchback.
Timmons gets sacked on third down and takes a helmet to helmet hit. No flag was thrown.
Spiller gets 7 yards on second down. Third and three for the Bills.
Manuel with a poor throw that should have been intercepted.
Jackson hits a wall on 2nd and 1 but gets the first down on the play.
Marquise Goodwin catches the ball on third down to convert the first down. On the next play, Jackson gains nine yards.
The Bills get a short return, but a personal foul tacks on an additional 15 yards. On first down, Manuel throws incomplete and on second down Spiller gains 4 yards.
Editor’s Halftime Thoughts:
The Bills have only scored three points in the first half, and that number isn’t misleading. Even with quarterback EJ Manuel, running back C.J. Spiller and wide receiver Stevie Johnson all healthy and in the lineup, the Bills offense has continued to fail in sustaining drives and finishing drives with touchdowns.
The Bills offense managed to gain just 82 yards in five second-half possessions. They had less than 10 minutes of possession in the first half. They converted only once in six third-down situations, and finished the half with five first downs.
Those three points came on Buffalo’s opening offensive drive, which began at the Pittsburgh 29-yard line. On their next possession, which also began in opposing territory, the Bills managed four yards of offense before punting.
All of that is to say the Bills offense has been unacceptably pitiful in the first half. Their defense has been solid as usual, holding the Steelers to just 10 first-half points while free safety Jairus Byrd’s 57-yard interception return on their first series set up Buffalo’s only scoring drive of the day. The Bills have not won many games this season, however, and the main reason has been the stagnancy of their offense.
Manuel has performed very poorly in his first half back after missing four weeks due to injury. He has completed just six of 13 passing attempts for 43 yards (a dismal average of 3.3 yards per attempt), and has been off-target with his throws throughout the game.
After appearing to back in his usual form with a 155-yard performance against the Chiefs last week, Spiller has gained just eight total yards on five touches in the first half of this game. While his lack of production can be blamed as much on offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett as it can be on Spiller, considering Hackett has not found any innovative ways to get Spiller the ball in this game, it remains a continuation on the running back’s disappointing season as he has failed to break anything significant with the touches he has received.
Johnson is the Bills’ leader in yards from scrimmage with 28 yards on two catches, but even his day has been up-and-down at best. He has been targeted six times, and most of those targets have been catchable passes. More importantly, however, Manuel needs to start looking to other targets outside of Johnson and develop a rapport with them. The only non-running back other than Johnson to catch a pass in this game is T.J. Graham, who has just one catch for five yards.
From top to bottom, the Bills offense has been awful. When they had a goal-to-go opportunity at the start of the game, the Bills offensive line and Jackson were unable to generate push toward the end zone, forcing the Bills into a 3rd-and-goal situation which was poorly called by Hackett and poorly executed by Manuel on a third-down fade pass attempt that went well out of bounds. Since then, the Bills have been unable to even get close to the end zone, as they have been unable to make plays down the field and sustain any sort of rhythm offensively.
— Dan Hope
Roethlisberger is forced to throw the ball away to end the first half. The Steelers lead 10-3, but the Bills will receive the ball to start the second half.
Roethlisberger hits Antonio Brown on back to back plays. There’s three seconds remaining in the first half and Roethlisberger is likely to throw a hail mary.
Heath Miller picks up 6 yards on a screen pass. The Steelers don’t seem to be in much of a hurry after the gain.
The Steelers take over on their own 20 with 41 seconds left in the first half.
Manuel throws short to Fred Jackson again and Jackson takes a big hit on back to back plays. Bad series again by EJ Manuel.
Jackson gets hit immediately on a short second down pass. It’s 3rd and 6 for the Bills.
On first down, Manuel throws a ball into Fred Jackson’s feet.
Fred Jackson gains 8 on first down and T.J. Graham catches a short pass to move the chains.
Don’t like Buffalo’s decision to enforce the five yards after the touchback. You have Goodwin as a returner, make them kick it again.
Buffalo has 1:55 left in the first half to respond to the Steelers’ touchdown.
Gilmore looks foolish on a fade route and Roethlisberger hits Cotchery for the touchdown.
Antonio Brown finds himself wide open on 3rd and 4 and the Steelers gain 24 yards on the play. It’s 1st and goal for the Steelers.
The Steelers call their first timeout of the half. There’s 2:34 remaining.
Antonio Brown can’t catch the low Roethlisberger pass on 2nd and 4. Third and four for the Steelers.
Dwyer sees nothing up the middle so he kicks the ball outside for a gain of eight yards.
The Steelers have a 3rd and 3 after a short gain on a screen pass.
Sanders catches the ball for four yards on first down. The Steelers are now on Buffalo’s side of the field.
Roethlisberger looks as though he’s going to get sacked, but he flips the ball off to Le’Veon Bell at the last second. Bell took the ball 34 yards.
Bell picks up two yards on first down for the Steelers.
The Steelers will take over from their own 14 yard line.
Johnson drops the third down pass from EJ Manuel and the Bills are forced to punt again.
Manuel overthrows T.J. Graham on 2nd and 10. Third and ten for the Bills.
Chris Gragg drops a pass that is right on the money. Gragg had Johnson blocking in front of him.
Stevie Johnson was interfered with on second down and the Bills pick up an automatic first down.
Fred Jackson picks up four yards on first down.
Manuel hits Stevie Johnson and Johnson is able to shake free for 23 yards. Shamarko Thomas was injured on the play.
Jackson gains one yard on first down as the Steelers continue to play the run due to Manuel’s ineffectiveness.
Buffalo starts on their own 20 yard line after a Suisham touchback.
EJ Manuel really needs to improve on this drive. Buffalo has been getting off of the field too quickly and the defense did not look impressive on the last Steelers drive.
Suisham kicks a 36 yard field goal to tie the game at three.
On 3rd and goal Ben Roethlisberger gets sacked by Kyle Williams.
Bell gets stuffed on second and goal by Manny Lawson.
It’s first and goal for the Steelers.
Le’Veon Bells picks up a first down on 2nd and 1 by gaining six yards.
The Steelers, one of the worst running teams in the NFL, are having plenty of success against Buffalo on this drive.
The Wildcat works as the cameraman can’t even keep up with who has the ball. The Steelers gain 25 yards on the play.
Bills looked as though they had Dwyer stopped on third down, but he kept his feet moving and picked up the first down.
Felix Jones gets a gain of nine on second down. It’s 3rd and 1 for the Steelers.
Roethlisberger looked to have Antonio Brown open on first down, but he missed Antonio Brown.
Dwyer picks up the first down on third and short.
Jones gets a rush on second down and it appears that he is a few inches short. That run concludes the first quarter.
A completion to Palmer on first down sets up a 2nd and 2 for the Steelers.
Pittsburgh gets the ball on their own 24 yard line.
Brian Moorman has had two disappointing punts today.
Manuel scrambles but throws the ball behind Johnson. The ball falls incomplete and Buffalo goes three and out.
Until EJ Manuel makes a few plays passing, the Steelers are going to stack the box. Buffalo hasn’t had any success running today due to the passing game. A short gain on second down to Stevie Johnson leads to a 3rd and 4.
Buffalo takes over on their own 44.
Buffalo stops Emmanuel Sanders for a three yard gain and the Steelers are forced to punt. Sanders took a bit hit and looks a bit shaken up as he leaves the field.
Bell picks up two yards on second down and it’s 3rd and 4 for the Steelers.
Bell gets a nice gain on first down as a message scrolls on my television to say that the Bills/Jets game next week is not sold out.
Buffalo can’t take advantage of the excellent field position and are forced to punt. The ball is fair caught on the Steelers’ 15 yard line.
Buffalo runs a draw on 3rd and 11 for a gain of five. EJ Manuel is looking very rusty thus far.
Manuel’s second down pass was nearly intercepted by LaMarr Woodley.
Spiller can’t get to the edge on first down and loses one yard. It’s early, but so far the Steelers are playing the run very well defensively.
McBriar’s first punt of the day is a bad one. It lands on the Steelers’ 44 yard line. Great field position again for the Bills.
Roethlisberger goes deep to Emmanuel Sanders on third down but the ball is overthrown. Buffalo should receive good field position following the punt.
Ben Roethlisberger gets the ball out extremely quickly, but it goes for a loss of three. Third and 13 for the Steelers.
Heath Miller drops a pass on first down, but he was hit immediately on the play.
Dan Carpenter kicks the ball out of the end zone and the Steelers take over on their own 20 yard line.
Dan Carpenter gets the Bills on the board with a 20 yard field goal. With 6:16 remaining in the first quarter the Bills lead 3-0.
Manuel’s pass to Stevie Johnson on 3rd and goal lands well out of bounds. Very poor pass by Manuel.
Jackson picks up two more yards on 2nd down. It’s 3rd and goal!
First and goal for the Bills and Fred Jackson carries the ball for six yards.
EJ Manuel picks up the first down with his feet and he does a great job of sliding to avoid taking a hit.
Spiller gets strung out on second down and loses a yard. It’s 3rd and 6 for the Bills.
Manuel’s first completion of the game goes to C.J. Spiller for a 4 yard gain.
Blatant pass interference on third down as T.J. Graham gets knocked over before the ball reached Graham.
Another three yard gain by Spiller brings up a 3rd and 4.
Spiller gets the carry on first down for three yards.
Jairus Byrd reads Ben Roethlisberger’s eyes and intercepts the Steelers quarterback. Byrd returns the ball to the Steelers’ 29 yard line.
Bell gets a screen on first down and tries to spin out of the grasp of Kiko Alonso to no avail. A loss of three on the play.
Gilmore can’t tackle Cotchery and the Steelers get 26 yards on third down. Poor start for Gilmore.
Bell gets back to back carries for a total of five yards. It’s 3rd and 5 for the Steelers.
That penalty by Gilmore was pretty ugly as he had a hold of Brown for the majority of the play.
Roethlisberger throws the ball away on first down, but Stephon Gilmore gets called for defensive holding.
Bell surges ahead on a third down carry to pick up the first down for the Steelers. Some tough running at the end by Bell.
The Steelers showing some Wildcat on second down and the team stops Bell after a gain of three yards. 3rd and 3.
Le’Veon Bell gets the carry on first down for a gain of four yards.
Emmanuel Sanders takes a knee in the end zone as the Bills defense takes the field!
The Steelers won the coin toss and will receive.
Ten minutes away from kickoff!
EJ Manuel needs to play a clean game in his return as Bills quarterback, but needs to stretch the field at times. It’s important that Manuel keeps Pittsburgh’s defense honest as the Steelers are likely to stack the box until Manuel moves the ball through the air.
Pittsburgh’s inactives for today’s game with the Bills:
QB Landry Jones
WR Derek Moye
CB DeMarcus Van Dyke
TE Richard Gordon
LB Kion Wilson
LB Chris Carter
DT Hebron Fangupo
The Buffalo Bills’ Week 10 inactives:
QB Jeff Tuel
WR Robert Woods
CB Justin Rogers
RB Ronnie Wingo
CB Brandon Smith
LB Ty Powell
OL Antoine McClain
Robert Woods wasn’t expected to play, but the team will miss his presence on the field. However, this should lead to more snaps for Marquise Goodwin, who has shown plenty of promise on the field.
Jeff Tuel, last week’s starter, will be inactive as EJ Manuel returns from a knee injury. Thad Lewis will also be active as the team’s backup quarterback after sitting out Week 9 with a rib injury.