The Buffalo Bills spent a lot of money and draft picks upgrading their defense this off-season and while the 38-point total posted by the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday night may not reflect it, the Bills feel their starting defense showed good things.That doesn't mean the bad things don't stick out.
"What I told the players after the game was two things that probably stuck in my craw a little bit more than anything else in the ball game was you cannot turn the ball over, and I thought when they came off their own goal line, right before half, and completed that long pass," said Chan Gailey to open his post-game press conference. "We got a little bit rattled. We have to hold our composure better than we did. If you do not turn it over and you do not lose your composure there, we are right in the middle of it."
Before that drive, the defense had held Ben Roethlisberger mostly in check with the exception of an 18-yard touchdown drive set up by a C.J. Spiller fumble. Big Ben hit a 33-yard pass backed up on his one-yard-line and accumulated 95 passing yards on the 98-yard drive in the two-minute drill. The Steelers had 96 yards of offense before that, and more than doubled it once they had reached the end zone.
"We have to be able to make a play and get off the field," said Kyle Williams. "We had played really well up to that point. That's the big sticker. I think we were reeling a little bit, to be honest with you," Williams said of the big pass play. "I think it rattled us."
"We started out very well on defense," said Nick Barnett. "We were very physical in the run. Up to that last drive we really were playing very sound and mentally error-free football."
The Bills played well prior to allowing the long touchdown drive, forcing the Steelers to be one-dimensional and containing the running game. George Wilson, a vocal leader on the team and elder statesman of the secondary, struck a positive note when discussing the first half.
"No, I am not concerned at all," said Wilson. "I am definitely encouraged. Those first two preseason games we really did not do a bunch of game planning on those guys, but this week we did. I think it really showed early in the game how we were making them one-dimensional. We were stuffing the run and even not giving up any big plays in the passing game as well.
"The way we played the first 28 and a half minutes, that is how we have to play the entire game. We cannot just let our guard down, especially going into halftime. That is a key situation that we have to win. We are going to be in that position again at some point during the course of this season and we cannot give up points going into halftime."
With Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus collapsing the pocket, Mario Williams tallied his first two sacks of the exhibition season. The defensive line won't care who gets the sacks as long as they are pressuring the quarterback and winning games.
"It's a collective effort," Kyle Williams said. "All of us up front, we're just going. It was all about getting pressure and getting upfield vertically. We just play off one another, and somebody is going to get there."
Dareus still thinks the defense has a way to go to be close to perfect and that's his goal.
"I’m so not happy," he said. "I feel like we can do a lot better if we just put our mind to it. We really had some moments where we saw that we can be real good. I think if we keep chopping at that wood we’ll get there."