The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is one of the best units in the National Football League. While they might not be at the top of all statistical categories, two areas where they are dominant are in sacks and takeaways. For both statistics they lead the NFL heading into Week 15.
Speaking of Week 15, the Steelers’ opponent is none other than the Buffalo Bills on Sunday Night Football. As Sean McDermott and his crew prepares to travel to Heinz Field in prime time, he and his players realize the task awaiting them in the Pittsburgh defense playing at home.
“They’re got a good roster of talent, let’s start there. High draft picks across the defensive line. Good secondary play, good linebacker play.” McDermott told Steelers.com. “That’s a part of also Mike being there a long time. They’ve been able – he and Kevin (Colbert) – to build it the right way and add the type of players that they like, that they want and it’s shown when you look at what (Bud) Dupree and Cameron (Heyward) and then you look at T.J. (Watt) and along with now Devin (Bush) in the middle, what they’ve added around those pieces and then the secondary play as well.”
Bills quarterback Josh Allen was also very aware of the playmakers the Steelers defense deploys on a weekly basis.
“They’re playing extremely well.” Allen said. “Obviously, taking away the ball, sacking the quarterback at a very high rate. I think they lead the league in both those statistics. They’ve got some young players that are moving around well, off the edge, they get to the quarterback, they play really smart coverage. It’s going to be very tough for us mentally this week and we’ve got to go in and prepare and watch as much film as we can and be ready for another four quarter game.”
When Allen was asked what the Steelers do so well to get after the quarterback, the answer was simple.
“I just think they got some really good dudes.” he said.
“Off the edge, they’re very strong inside to, they’ve had a really good pass rush plan. That’s something we got to watch and practice really hard this week in practice and make sure we keep getting those looks and our scout team is gonna be huge for us this week.”
When it comes to the Bills’ offensive game plan, offensive coordinator Brian Daboll knows all about the challenge will lies ahead.
“They’re really good. I think they have eight or nine first-rounders. They can rush the passer. They can stop the run. I think they’re first in takeaways, second in the league in negative plays, first in sacks. Good situational football team, they’re 7-1 in their last eight, 3-0 in their last three. They have a lot of good players. They have a good coaching staff.” Daboll remarked.
“Again, the scheme and stuff, we’re getting on to them now, but in just the brief time that I’ve started, it’s a pretty impressive group. Another top five or six defense like Denver was, like Dallas was, like Baltimore is, like they are, so we’re going to have to do a good job of putting together a good plan, having a good week, and then playing in a tough environment.”
The Steelers at home are a different beast compared to on the road, especially when it comes to sacking the quarterback. Of their 48 sacks on the season, the vast majority of them have come at Heinz Field. At home, the Steelers average 5 sacks at Heinz Field, compared to 2.2 away from the friendly confines. This could be trouble for the Bills who surrendered 6 sacks last week, at home, to the Baltimore Ravens.
The Steelers and Bills will square off on Sunday Night Football in a game with huge playoff implications in the AFC Playoff Picture. A Steelers home win would not only improve their conference record, very important regarding tie breakers, but would catapult them ahead of the Bills in the standings.
Yeah, this is a huge game coming up.
Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for the Bills to invade Heinz Field in Week 15.