The Buffalo Bills went into Heinz Field last week, listened to Styx’s “Renegade”, and smacked the Pittsburgh Steelers to secure their second postseason bid in three seasons under Sean McDermott. Not only that, the team—particularly the defense—was able to ball out on another nationally televised game during Sunday Night Football. Which of Buffalo’s rookies managed to impress the entire nation? Read on as we review how each of them performed against the Steelers.
DT Ed Oliver
Outside of a few tackles, Oliver didn’t appear much on the stat sheet. As has been the case all season, however, his impact was more than just statistics. When lined up one-on-one, the rookie was able to get some decent push. The problem is that Pittsburgh rarely gave him that chance. Oliver’s hustle also meant that he was able to track down James Conner and the other Steelers running backs more than once—if they made it past the line of scrimmage. That hustle prevented six- or seven-yard gains from becoming ten- or 15-yard gains.
OT Cody Ford
Ford followed up a poor game against the Baltimore Ravens with a more-than-serviceable performance against the Steelers. Although Pittsburgh stuffed him more often than not in the run game, Ford held up against Pittsburgh’s relentless pass rush better than initially expected. Bills coaches didn’t exactly leave Ford on an island against T.J. Watt or Bud Dupree often, but when asked to hold down the fort on his own he often stonewalled his opponent. A great bounce-back game for the rookie tackle, who is looking to finish the season on a high note.
RB Devin Singletary
While the passing offense got bogged down, particularly in the second half, Singletary ensured that the run offense was a productive chain-mover that allowed the team to keep drives alive. His 87 rushing yards against a stout defensive line was even more impressive because that 4.1 average yards per rush wasn’t boosted by “big” runs. Instead, Singletary continues to prove Brian Daboll right—that he can be the team’s lead bell-cow tailback. One thing the rookie needs to work on, though, is his ball security. He had two fumbles during the game, one of which was lost.
TE Dawson Knox
Knox was quiet for most of the night, outside of an 11-yard reception early in the first quarter. He was asked to assist Cody Ford in pass protection a few times and also help run-block for Devin Singletary as well, although his performance there was a bit lacking.
LB Vosean Joseph
The former fifth-round linebacker remains on injured reserve following shoulder surgery.
S Jaquan Johnson
Johnson was active against Pittsburgh, but only for his role on special teams.
TE Tommy Sweeney
With the return of Tyler Kroft, Sweeney was again a healthy scratch this week at the Steelers.
DE Darryl Johnson Jr.
Although he was on the field for only two defensive snaps, Johnson actually earned a pressure and almost had a sack of Hodges.