There are times it is difficult to pick winners and losers following any NFL preseason game. It is even more difficult to identify specific winners and losers in games like the 43-19 drubbing the Pittsburgh Steelers took at the hands of the Buffalo Bills in up-state New York.
Nonetheless, the Steelers did lead the game at one point, and then the flood gates seemingly opened and the wheels completely fell off. There could have been well over 10 players labeled as 'losers', and a handful who could have been listed as 'winners'. Take a look at who falls into which category following the loss.
Michael Vick - Despite his first pass being a bomb to No. 10, Vick performed well, all things considered. As he just entered the team's facility days ago, Vick represented himself well with several starters and then the backups before giving way to Landry Jones. Vick's short work proved he could be a quality backup option in case Ben Roethlisberger were to go down to injury at some point in 2015.
Martavis Bryant - As fans watched Bryant win deep balls, cause penalties downfield and score touchdowns, it all came full circle when the reality of Bryant's 4-game suspension came crashing down. Bryant is a play maker, and a difference maker. He proved it on the field Saturday, and also proved what the team will be missing in his absence to start the 2015 season.
DeAngelo Williams - Williams got the start for the first time since wearing black and gold, and he acclimated himself well after the first series. Williams showed great burst, vision and even his receiving skills with a reception out of the backfield. If the Steelers have learned anything throughout this preseason, it is how Williams seems to be every bit as capable as the team's backup not only during Bell's suspension, but throughout the 2015 season.
Steelers rush defense - This category could have a myriad of players substituted, but the entire rush defense was so bad it was worth lumping all of them into one loser category. The Bills rushed 156 yards on 35 carries for a 4.5 yard average and 3 touchdowns. The rush defense was unable to make stops, especially on early downs, which kept the Bills in favorable down and distances the entire game.
Josh Harris - Harris had missed the past two preseason games with a foot injury, and when Tomlin dubbed his performance in the game Saturday to be extremely important, Harris rushed for 20 yards on 10 carries. To top off the 2.0 yards per carry average, Harris did not perform well in pass protection giving up a sack on Michael Vick and missing his assignment on more than one occasion.
Steelers secondary - Not to let the Steelers' rush defense to be outdone, the team's secondary was equally as bad. The Steelers did not even come close to attempt a defended pass throughout 4 quarters of play. Between EJ Manuel, Matt Cassel, Chris Simms and Tyrod Taylor, the Steelers watched this quarterback competition go 30 for 33 for 386 yards, 3 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 142.9 passer rating. Through 4 quarters of play, the team registered only 2 passes defended. One by Brandon Boykin and another by Ethan Hemer. Both were on the same play. A rough night which will have coaches up late thinking about where to go from here.
Garrett Hartley - Tough to put a player on the losers list when he gets hurt, but when Hartley was seen grabbing his hamstring after a kickoff, he essentially signed his waived/injured paperwork. Seems the team is now searching for their third kicker of this young 2015 season.