BBD Staff Writer: John Maher
Quarterback EJ Manuel made his return for the Buffalo Bills, after missing the past four games due to a LCL sprain in Week 5, to face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. After watching practice squad promotion turned starting quarterback Thad Lewis play for three games, and undrafted rookie Jeff Tuel start in Week 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs, Bills fans were excited to see Manuel back on the field.
Coming into this week, the Bills stood at 3-6 and were looking to make a second-half push for the playoffs if they could start with a win against the Steelers.
On paper, the Bills held statistical advantages on both sides of the ball. On offense, the Bills rank seventh in the league with 140.7 rushing yards per game, while the Steelers rank 29th with 127.2 rushing yards allowed per game. On defense, the Bills rank second in the NFL with 33 total sacks, while the Steelers have allowed 36 sacks, tied for the NFL’s most through Week 10.
The Bills defense exploited this advantage, finishing the game with four sacks on Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and nine total tackles for loss, but the Bills rushing offense struggled, finishing the game with 95 yards on the ground, their third-smallest number this year.
The story of the game, as Dan Hope explained in his postgame column, was the dreadful performance of Manuel and the entire Bills offense.