The Steelers won a football game. That is a good thing, depending on how you feel about the Steelers situation. The Steelers didn't play a complete and great football game but the thing is that they didn't need to. The Bills were an awful football team today. I don't think that the Bills are this bad all the time but they were that bad today. The Steelers defense that gave up a franchise record number of points and yards last week allowed only 10 points and 227 yards this week and the Dick Lebeau defense ate a rookie quarterback who was playing for the first time in a month up like he was lunch. Doesn't matter if it was a good win or a bad win, it was just a win and in professional sports that is all that matters.
-The defense really played well today. I mean that is pretty easy to say by looking at the stat line but for much of the season they have played stretches of good football but could never really put a full 60 minutes together. Today they did that. EJ Manuel was held to 4.0 yard per attempt average and sacked him three different times. They picked him off one time and really gave him no chances to be successful. The Bills came into the game as one of the better rushing offenses in the league but the Steelers defense held them under 100 yards (98 yards) and held CJ Spiller to 23 yards on eight carries and the Bills had a long run of only 11. Ryan Clark, who hasn't played good football at all this year but today he picked off a pass and returned it 37 yards for an almost score. Will Gay led the team with 11 tackles. Nine of them were solo. Not sure how I feel about Gay leading the team in tackles. That can't be a good thing but whatever.
-The defense was good and once again Lawrence Timmons was again a beast. He has probably been the defenses best player and while that doesn't say very much the way the Steelers have played this year Timmons has been excellent. He made eight tackles and seven of them were solo. Timmons almost killed Manuel on a sack where Manuel didn't see him (no idea how) but it was a nasty hit. The boys over at Behind the Steel Curtain has the gif:
-Before the game there were some reports (which I guess were false?) that Ben Roethlisberger was going to ask to be traded in the offseason. That made Twitter pretty interesting in the pregame and to be honest I can see both sides of the topic. While I could go on about that this isn't the time or place for it. Anyways, Ben didn't really have all that great of a game. he completed only 18-of-30 passes and he threw a pretty bad pick in the Steelers first drive but he pulled it back together and played turnover free football the rest of the way out. He was sacked four times so that certainly didn't help. The Steelers had some trouble scoring in the red zone and while this isn't all on Roethlisberger when you get inside the 20 you want your quarterback to make plays and that didn't happen today. The Steelers got a start in the red zone after the Clark interception and after a big Antonio Brown punt return and both times the Steelers had to settle for three. You need to punch at least one of those in. Again, this isn't all on Roethlisberger but some of it is. His touch wasn't there today and he looked off. Was it because of the rumors and being asked about it? I doubt it but that question will be out there.
-I know I said that Roethlisberger didn't have that great of a game but the one portion of the game where he, and the Steelers, did excel is on third down. The offense was 8-of-17 on third down and that is probably what won the game. The Bills on the other hand went 3-for-14 on third down. That seems to be the game right there. It helped the Steelers earn a 35:16-24:44 advantage in time of possession and I think where we found the Steelers success today.
-Antonio Brown had a pretty good day. His day started off slow as he didn't have many catches in the first half but he finished the day with six catches (11 targets) for 104 yards. He also did a pretty nice job returning punts as he returned a pair of them for 74 yards including a 50 yard return that I talked about above. That is what you need your top receiver to do and he came up with some big plays today. Exactly what the Steelers needed after Brown has dropped some crucial balls this year.
-The Steelers run game has been pretty awful all season. Today was one of the better games of the season as they ran for 133 yards on 33 carries (4.1 ypc) and that will help when your quarterback does quite have his best. Le'Veon Bell led the team with 57 yards but it took him 22 carries to do so and he also caught three passes for 39 yards so nearly a 100 yard overall day for Bell. You can't argue with that. Jonathan Dwyer has been somewhat of a wild card during his tenure as a Steeler but he had a really nice game with six carries for 38 yards. All-in-all it was a good day for the running game and while I don't think it will ever be a strength for the team I think if you can get around 120+ yards on the ground it is going to give them a really great chance to win games.
-Not sure what you can take from this game. The Steelers won so it is obviously a positive but the Bills are a bad football team. I still think the Steelers are a bad football team but today they did a nice job of taking care of a bad team. This was a pretty unwatchable game for much of the first half thanks to both teams just not wanting to move the football on offense but the Steelers woke up and are now 3-6. The mountain is still too big to climb in terms of the 2013 season but Steelers wins are always good.