After the Pittsburgh Steelers pulverized the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the preseason opener last week, we thought the Buffalo Bills and their starting unit would have put up a much better fight in Pittsburgh's second preseason game. We were wrong... and we couldn't be more thrilled.
From the opening moment of the game, the Steelers manhandled a disgruntled Bills team. Pittsburgh kicked things off with an opening-drive touchdown for the second straight week. Running back Jaylen Warren capped off a 6-play 86-yard drive with an impressive 62-yard touchdown run.
After Pittsburgh's starting defense forced a three-and-out against Josh Allen and company, Calvin Austin III set the Steelers up with fantastic field position with a 54-yard punt return. One play later, Kenny Pickett rifled the ball across the middle of the field for a 25-yard touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth.
We would have thought that Allen and the Bills would have climbed back into the game after this, but that wasn't the case at all. In fact, Pittsburgh kept pouring it on. Both the offense and defense were firing on all cylinders as they jumped out to a 27-0 lead through the first three quarters of play.
Eventually, the Bills got on the board with a touchdown after Buffalo scooped up a fumble on a poor snap exchange from Kendrick Green to Mason Rudolph. However, this game was over before it started. Pittsburgh would run away with a 27-15 win, but 8 points came with under a minute remaining when the game was already over (the Bills punched in a two-point conversion after their score in garbage time).
Steelers fans are seeing everything we hoped for
It's hard to ask for much more than what we have seen from the Steelers in the first two preseason games. For the second straight week, Kenny Pickett looked like a franchise quarterback ready to lead (and possibly even carry) this team to victory during the regular season. He wasn't the only player who has been impressive so far.
On the defensive side of the football, rookie pass rusher Nick Herbig was outstanding for the second straight week. After getting to the quarterback twice against the Buccaneers in his first-ever NFL preseason game, Herig had a high-quality sack against the Bills as well as an impressive tackle for a loss.
Once again, this was an all-around fantastic performance from Mike Tomlin's crew. The Steelers clearly showed up to play. But they didn't just come away with a meaningless preseason win; they utterly embarrassed Josh Allen and company and Pittsburgh made this one look easy.
Pickett finished the night completing 3 of 4 passes for 43 yards and a touchdown --earning him a passer rating of 149.0, per ESPN stats. This was the second straight week he topped a passer rating of 147.5. On the other side of the football, Pittsburgh's defense held Josh Allen to just 64 yards on 10 pass attempts for a passer rating of 87.1.
Joey Porter Jr. earned an interception in his NFL preseason debut against the Bills, while defensive back Elijah Riley made another strong case for the roster with a great special teams tackle and an interception off a tipped pass in the end zone.
Quite honestly, this was the picture-perfect preseason performance by the Pittsburgh Steelers. We didn't think things could get much better than what we saw last week, but Mike Tomlin and his staff have to be thrilled with what they have seen so far. Let's hope these awesome performances carry over to the regular season soon.