The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Buffalo Bills 38-7 in the always important third preseason game of the season.
The Steelers took advantage of another Young interception by rookie safety Robert Golden. A 10-yard touchdown pass from Leftwich to wide receiver Derrick Williams capped the short drive to increase the lead to 28-7.
Kicker Daniel Hrapmann extended to lead to 31-7 after connecting on a 40-yard field goal. The score was set up by a big pass play between Leftwich and Williams, who seems to be making a late push for a roster spot.
After stopping the Bills, the Steelers turned to the ground game (with a horse collar penalty thrown in). On the drive, Baron Batch started by ripping off a big run, which was quickly followed by a 41-yard burst to the end zone by electric rookie running back Chris Rainey building the lead to 38-7 with 2:45 left.
Early in the game, the Bills jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter by capping a 49-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run by running back Fred Jackson. On the drive, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick connected on three bug pass plays to set up the score.
The Steelers came back in the second quarter with a five-play 19-yard drive following a fumble recovery by defensive end Ziggy Hood (forced by linebacker Lawrence Timmons). Isaac Redman capped the drive by scoring from two-yards out on third-and-goal to knot the score at seven.
The Steelers broke out their two-minute offense for a 13-play 98-yard touchdown drive in 1:33 to take the lead on a Ben Roethlisberger to Brown six-yard touchdown pass. At the outset of the drive, the Steelers struggled to get out of the shadow of their end zone before Roethlisberger hit running back Jonathan Dwyer for 28-yards on third down.
The big news for the Steelers was the injuries. Rookie first round pick David DeCastro left the game with a potentially serious right knee injury and did not return. He will undergo a MRI when the team returns to Pittsburgh. He was joined on the sideline by defensive end Brett Keisel, who suffered a left ankle injury.
Offensively, Redman looks solid in his first significant action of the preseason. Yes, he left the field briefly with a stinger, but he also ran with power between the tackles and runs with attitude. Even though Dwyer, Batch and Rainey followed with some spark, there is room for improvement in the running game. The passing game appears a bit out of sync with three drops to this point (two by Antonio Brown and one by Emmanuel Sanders). Roethlisberger finished the half 17-of-24 for 169 yards and one touchdown. Leftwich replaced him and looked good, throwing two touchdown passes. The big story was Williams, who appears to be joining the party at wide receiver. In fact, it appears to be a two-man race between him and last week’s standout David Gilreath for the final spot.
On defense, after opening a bit shaky, they came on as the half progressed. The defensive line provided solid pressure, with both Hood and Cameron Heyward applying some big hits on Fitzpatrick. Another defensive lineman that stood out was Corbin Bryant, who replace hood in the second half and started wrecking havoc in the Bills backfield.
Outside linebackers Chris Carter and LaMarr Woodley both looked solid, with Carter recording a sack to end one of the Bills drives. Adrian Robinson also looked good off the edge as a rusher in the second half. Cortez Allen was all over the place at cornerback, and may have edged in front of Keenan Lewis to start opposite Ike Taylor. This is in no way taking anything away from Lewis who has been solid, but Allen has been even better. At safety, Will Allen struggled again, and Golden again made some plays.
The busiest member of the Steelers was punter Drew Butler, who for the most part had a very good game. With Jeremy Kapinos still battling a back injury, it could be Butler’s job to lose.
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