On Sept. 12, the Steelers strode into Highmark Stadium to face the Buffalo Bills. The Steelers, the road team, had a very young, questionable offense and offensive line. The right side of their defensive line was also untested as far as their edge rushers were concerned.
One of the mainstays on their defensive line, Stephon Tuitt, would not be participating. Their aging starting quarterback appeared to be too long in the tooth. They were set to compete against one of the so-called AFC powerhouses in that team’s backyard.
The Steelers were in a catch-22 “sitcha-ma-wation.” Funny; no one alerted the Steelers defense, did they? Well if they did, the Steelers forgot to check their text messages. First of all, I refuse to answer my doorbell because I have a feeling that Chef Gordon Ramsey will be perched on my doorstep any day now with a covered dish of “filet of crow” ready for me to consume post-haste because I recently wrote that: “(Because) outside linebacker Bud Dupree opted for free agency and signed with the Tennessee Titans (there would be no one there) to help take the pressure off of linebacker T.J. Watt.”
This was not a very pretty game. Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin confirmed that when he said: “We’re not worried about style points.” It seems as if the only ones worried about style points are the ones that don’t play the game.
I also think that the concerns I had regarding the loss of edge rusher Dupree may have been a bit premature because it doesn’t seem to matter who is playing opposite of T.J. Watt; the Bills offense or any other offense is going to have their mitts full trying to contain the electric Watt.
I also recently pointed out that if “the offense of the Black and Gold can avoid dummkopf picks and costly turnovers in their own territory and if the new Steelers Offensive Coordinator Matt Canada will construct a game plan and call a game according to the needs of his offense as a whole rather than attempting to appease and satisfy a select group of selfish players, this team has a good chance to make the 2021 postseason and beyond based on the projected performance on the defense alone.”
The Bills game, a 23-16 Steelers win, proved that if the defense of the Steelers is not winded in the fourth quarter resulting from costly and unnecessary turnovers by the offense, then many of last season’s late collapses by the defense could be avoided this season. I
t appeared as the Steelers’ defensive unit grew stronger as the game progressed, especially in the second half. So the lack of preseason playing time may have actually helped Watt, who said as much after the game.
But boys and girls, there still is a potential problem. Much noise continues to be made concerning the occasional problem that the Steelers defense may have by not getting off of the field enough on third downs. What about the notoriously slow starts of the offense, that allow the defense to rest for only a series because they go three and out?
The molasses-like starts of Roethlisberger and the offense has to be remedied because the Bills game was an exception and certainly not the rule. This offense is continuing to evolve and is not currently built for coming from behind.
COURIER PHOTOGRAPHER BRIAN COOK SR. traveled to Buffalo, N.Y., and captured this photo of the Steelers’ Diontae Johnson hauling in a pass from Ben Roethlisberger for a touchdown. It was key in the team’s 23-16 win over the Bills, Sept. 12. “We walk into this parking lot each and every day, and we’re either going to get better or we’re not, and we better get better.”–Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin