Tale Of The Tape: Buffalo Bills At Pittsburgh Steelers
- QuarterbackThe Bills are hoping to get Thad Lewis back in the lineup because Jeff Tuel does not seem likely to win any game, let alone one against a very angry Steelers defense that is looking for redemption. Tuel deserves credit for having the guts to get under center, but he is overmatched against NFL defenses and it seems it’s just a matter of time before he makes a mistake that turns the game against the Bills.Ben Roethlisberger is coming off his best game of the season in the Week Nine blowout loss at New England. Roethlisberger threw for more than 400 yards and he had four TD passes. When Roethlisberger is at his best, he will throw the ball at the last possible second because that’s when his receivers break open. That only works if his offensive line gives him sufficient protection.
- OffenseThe Bills can run the football with Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller. Jackson is an all-purpose runner who can go inside or outside and he has run for 502 yards and a 4.3 yards per carry average. While Spiller has been troubled by injuries, he ran for 112 yards vs. the Chiefs and he has explosive speed. Stevie Johnson is a big-play wideout while rookie Marquise Goodwin has gamebreaking speed.The Steelers have not had a lot of positive developments this season, but rookie running back Le’Veon Bell appears to have the kind of talent to give them a credible ground game for the next few seasons. He may not be a superstar, but he looks credible. Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery is coming off a three-TD effort against the Patriots, while Antonio Brown has excellent downfield speed.
- DefenseThe Bills rank 20th overall on defense and head coach Doug Marrone has sufficient talent on this side of the ball for his team to play consistently. Rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso leads the team by a wide margin with 89 tackles and has a great chance of winning defensive rookie of the year. DE Mario Williams can be a dominant pass rusher as long as he is motivated to play.The Steelers had a horrendous defensive game in giving up 55 points to the New England Patriots, but the numbers say they have the 13th-rated defense in the league. However, if you got a good look at their performance this year, it’s clear that the Steelers are significantly slower than they have been in several years. Inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons has a team-high 70 tackles.
- Special TeamsThe Bills have not allowed any punt or kickoff returns for touchdowns, but they have given up some big plays. Goodwin has the speed to break the long return and is dangerous on kickoffs. Placekicker Dan Carpenter has made 18-of-20 FG attempts, including 3-of-4 from 50 yards or longer.The Steelers appear to have gotten slower, but it hasn’t manifested itself in special teams play. The Steelers have been solid in their kickoff and punt coverage. Placekicker Shaun Suisham has been consistent, making 16-of-18 FG attempts.
The Steelers are a long way from the dominant team they have been for a long time and this season is a big disappointment. They should still have enough to get up off the deck and beat the Bills. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor