The Buffalo Bills' offense entered their second pre-season game with a chip on their collective shoulder. Less than a week after an inauspicious start in Washington, Buffalo's offense did a complete 180 in a 24-21 pre-season victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Toronto.
Trent Edwards - last week just 1 of 5 passing - was two for two this week. Two for two on scoring drives, that is; Buffalo's starting offense was on the field for two possessions, and ended both with Robert Royal touchdown receptions. Edwards finished the evening 9 of 11 passing for 104 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. He even had a 22-yard scramble for a first down on third and 12 on the team's second possession.
Wide receiver Lee Evans got into the act as well; after getting blanked in Washington, Evans caught three passes for 55 yards on two possessions this week. Royal - heavily involved offensively due to a knee injury sustained by Derek Schouman - caught two balls both for scores; Roscoe Parrish, Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson were also involved in the passing game.
Buffalo's re-tooled offensive line blocked well for Lynch; Marshawn carried 5 times for 25 yards before his exit. There were two minor errors that the offense made - Edwards was hit on his blind side on one play, and Langston Walker had a poor block on a speed rush - but otherwise, the Bills' offense was hitting on all cylinders. It was truly an impressive performance.
Defense/Special Teams Not Slouches, Either
Buffalo's defense wasn't as spectacular as the offense on Thursday night, but they had their bright spots as well. Take away a fluke 47-yard touchdown scramble by Steelers QB Dennis Dixon late in the fourth quarter, and the Bills held the Steelers to just 54 rushing yards on 20 carries. Strong safety Donte Whitner, making his pre-season debut, looked good in run support and also recorded an interception off a tipped pass by Ko Simpson.
Not everything was rosy defensively, however. The Bills missed a few golden opportunities to record sacks on Ben Roethlisberger, instead allowing the elusive signal-caller to escape and even make a few big plays down the field. Buffalo's linebackers also continued to struggle in coverage, and the cornerbacks - specifically Ashton Youboty and Leodis McKelvin - were not as solid as they were in Washington. The effectiveness of Buffalo's offense and some big plays, however, masked these deficiencies as the Bills' first unit built a 14-0 lead over the Steelers' first unit.
McKelvin proved that he can be explosive in the return game once again; his 95-yard kickoff return late in the third quarter gave the Bills a 24-14 lead and effectively put the game away. Buffalo's special teams units, from team one to team four, were outstanding once again.
What's Coming Next?
- We'll have our Film Session again this week, as I was able to get this game on the ol' DVR once again. Expect me to come back with a glowing report on rookie OT Demetrius Bell - I thought he excelled in extended action, specifically against the pass rush and blocking in space.
- The Bills have ten days off before their next pre-season game, a Sunday Night affair in Indianapolis.
- Here's the roll call from tonight's game thread: sireric, Kurupt, Bluebill, Scoe221, twoeightnine, Cinga, MonStarr_716, krytime, Fucilli5, RabidBuffalo, the Skycap, Berg79, jj24, Krenn, BuffaloBrewed, Kumario!, billsstein (17 users)... Congratulations to Kurupt, who blew away the competition with 112 comments. Great stuff.
Plenty to be excited about after this game, Rumblers.