Run the ball, good things happen
Even if it's not looking great all-around (Le'Veon Bell had 22 carries and 57 yards), establishing the run up front opens up everything else. Jerricho Cotchery, of all people, has become a red zone threat, largely based on the idea the Steelers can use some nearly-forgotten play action passing. That's how Cotchery caught his fourth touchdown in the last two games, and tied a career-high with six on the season.
The Importance of Health
Watch the Steelers' running game in the first half - the one with Ramon Foster. Then watch it without him. First half, they had 19 carries for 99 yards. they finished with 33 carries for 136 yards. The Steelers held a 20-10 time of possession advantage. They had all but choked Buffalo out in the first half, their running game in particular. Then LaMarr Woodley was injured. Buffalo never really got in the game, largely due to a quarterback who looked rusty as well as inexperienced. But the Steelers could have extended the lead even more in the second half if not for injuries.
And I wouldn't expect Shamarko Thomas back any time soon. That didn't look good.
While I'm not one to really dig into officials for judgement calls, the last offensive play of the game was completely botched by Scott Green and his crew. It was obvious to anyone in the stadium the tight end moved early, getting into his pass pattern almost quicker than the ball was snapped. You might remember Green; he was the official in charge in the Steelers' 11-10 Week 11 win over the San Diego Chargers. His crew incorrectly ruled a Troy Polamalu fumble recovery was a forward lateral, taking a touchdown off the board, also at the end of the game. A false start penalty should have been called on Buffalo, and time should have run off the clock, thus making the final score 23-3.
I get the game was over either way, but rules are rules, and while Green was the lead official in their recent contract negotiations, I wasn't aware there was a provision that includes their ability to take the final play of games off, if they so choose. As Ben Roethlisberger would say, it's unacceptable.
It seems Todd Haley's strategy in long-yard, short-time situations is simply to call plays until the defense somehow decides to no longer defend. The string of plays at the end of the first half were not called to try to move in field goal range, unless Buffalo decided to lay on the grass and take a nap.
It's one or the other, coach. Put up plays that can get you in range, or take a knee. None of this six-yards-and-to-the-sideline stuff when you need 60 yards in 30 seconds. Someone's going to get needlessly hurt.
Bills OLB Jerry Hughes couldn't have been happier with himself for notching a sack, his team down three scores in the fourth quarter. He beat Kelvin Beachum around the offensive left side, and was able to take down Ben Roethlisberger. He proceeded to celebrate as if he just got his team the ball back in a tight playoff game.
It drew the annoyance of right guard David DeCastro, who appeared to taunt Hughes by celebrating right along with him. It's the most emotion DeCastro has shown on the field in his career. It also capped off DeCastro's highlight film of the day, where he, more or less, mauled the Bills' defensive line. It only makes me think of the phrase "act like you've been there before," and perhaps DeCastro should just play left tackle.
More from Behind the Steel Curtain:
- Steelers thrash Bills 23-10
- Ben Roethlisberger Trade Rumor: Everything we know
- Timmons hit on E.J. Manuel the result of patience
- Winners and Losers after Steelers victory over Buffalo
- Ben on rumor: 'It's one of the most B.S. stories I've ever heard'
- Team dismisses trade rumor as 'erroneous'
- LaMarr Woodley injury: Steelers OLB doubtful to return with calf injury
- Ramon Foster injury: Steelers left guard left with ankle injury
- Updated: Shamarko Thomas injury: Steelers rookie will not return to game vs. Bills
- Agent of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger denies trade report