Within the first five minutes of tonight's pre-season game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Buffalo Bills had opened up a 7-0 lead. It was all downhill from there, as the Steelers racked up 38 straight points - 14 of them coming against Buffalo's starting defense - in notching a 38-7 win. Buffalo is now 0-3 in the exhibition season.
In fairness, Buffalo's defense played very well for most of the first half. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked twice by Mario Williams (both were set up by Kyle Williams), the Steelers averaged fewer than 2.0 yards per carry, and the first of Pittsburgh's first-half touchdowns was set up by a C.J. Spiller fumble deep in Bills territory. Allowing a 99-yard touchdown drive in the final two minutes of the first half, however, was clearly not the best way to close out an otherwise strong half of football.
On offense, things started fairly smoothly, with Ryan Fitzpatrick and company engineering a four-play scoring drive on the second possession of the game featuring a long Fred Jackson running play, a pretty play-action strike from Fitzpatrick to David Nelson, and eventually a one-yard scoring run from Jackson. The veteran running back was his usual self, accumulating 34 rushing yards and the score on just seven carries.
There were also, however, rough patches. Penalties were not an issue for the offense, which was a nice change of pace, but other mishaps occurred. Fitzpatrick had multiple passes batted down at the line of scrimmage, Stevie Johnson dropped a pass, and in general, Fitzpatrick and Johnson were not on the same page for most of the night. Fitzpatrick's final stat line (7-of-18, 89 yards) was slightly misleading because of those problems with Johnson - and because he was repeatedly knocked to the turf by Steelers rushers - but there's no question that Fitzpatrick has had better days.
Still, Buffalo played a very competitive first half against a perpetually good football team, and things only really got out of hand when the coaches turned things over to the second and third units. Vince Young, the only other quarterback to play on the evening for Buffalo, was horrendous, throwing two ugly interceptions while completing just 12-of-26 passes. Backup defenders gave up a 39-yard touchdown pass from Byron Leftwich to Antonio Brown, then allowed a 41-yard touchdown run from Chris Rainey late in the game. The final score doesn't do the starters any justice; it just highlights how poorly the backups played this evening.
Leave your thoughts on the game below. Buffalo must trim its roster by 10 players before 4PM on Monday - it wouldn't be completely shocking if they did that tomorrow, by the way - and they wrap up their pre-season schedule this coming Thursday with a finale in Detroit.