The Steelers finally won a preseason game for the first time since 2012 as they defeated the Buffalo Bills 19-16. The Bills didn’t look like a fantastic squad and the game doesn’t mean anything but a win is a win. Hopefully it gives the team some type of confidence as the regular season is only three weeks away. Like every preseason game there are always positives and negatives. Here are three observations I made from the victory.
In his first action for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ryan Shazier was spectacular. He recorded 11 tackles and he intercepted an E.J. Manuel pass in the first quarter and returned it for 27 yards. He looked fast and he had a nose for the ball. The interception he made was on a ball Manuel should not have attempted to throw to Scott Chandler because Shazier was all over the intended target. Shazier made the catch seamlessly and returned the pick into a solid gain. Shazier impressed Lawrence Timmons who said, “I thought he did an awesome job.” It was only one game for the rookie but he is already on his way to justify the Steelers selecting him the first round of May’s draft.
The first team offensive line had an up and down night for the Steelers offense. The down would be the fact that they only rushed for 10 yards in the first half. However they excelled in protecting Ben Roethlisberger, who was not sacked in the game. Bruce Gradkowski wasn’t sacked either. As for protecting Ben, on the touchdown throw to Markus Wheaton in the first quarter the offensive line gave Ben a perfect pocket to throw in. It looked like 2005 with Alan Faneca leading the o-line. Obviously the running game needs to be better than ten yards but the Bills defensive line has some of the best talent in the NFL. Protecting Big Ben was clearly a plus as his stat line was phenomenal, going 8 for 11 with 128 yard and two touchdowns. Hopefully the offensive line can remain a solid unit for the Steelers are the regular season approaches.
Two things about preseason football. First there should never be overtime. Had Shaun Suisham missed the 20 yard field goal at the end of regulation and the game stayed tied at 16, that should have been the end of the game. Why should they play overtime to determine a winner in a game that the result is meaningless? Only bad things could come of playing an extra 15 minutes.
The second thing about preseason football, is that I loved the 33 yard extra points. Yes Suisham missed one, but it’s just a bit more exciting. There haven’t been too many missed chances but the distance at least makes the play necessary. In the Oakland Raiders vs. Detroit Lions game, the Raiders scored a touchdown with six seconds remaining to tie the score at 26. The Raiders announcers even sounded a little worried about the 33 yard attempt that was for the win. The Raiders made the kick and won the game but the extra point didn’t seem like a gimme. Personally I hope the NFL thinks about moving the extra point back permanently.
There you have it Steelers Nation. What did you think about the victory over the Bills?