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Bills fall to Steelers in preseason, 19-16: initial reactions

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The Buffalo Bills are on their way back to Pittsford after a four-day trip to Pittsburgh ended with a 19-16 preseason loss to the Steelers.

Joe Sargent

It looked for a few minutes like the Buffalo Bills and the Pittsburgh Steelers were headed to overtime in their preseason game on Saturday night, but Cyrus Kouandjio allowed consecutive sacks within the final 30 seconds, the second of which yielded a Jeff Tuel fumble, a Steelers fumble recovery, and a game-winning 19-yard field goal from Shaun Suisham to secure a 19-16 win.

Here's a quick recap of the more relevant things to happen at Heinz Field this evening:

  • Buffalo's first-team offense played the entire first half, accumulating 212 yards of total offense on a fairly productive evening. The team once again failed to find the end zone, however, settling for two Dan Carpenter field goals and ending two drives with failed fourth-down conversion attempts.
  • EJ Manuel threw an interception on a seam route intended for Scott Chandler and only averaged 5.5 yards per attempt on the evening, completing 17-of-27 passes for 148 yards and the pick. His favorite receiving target: Fred Jackson, who hauled in a whopping seven passes (for 28 yards) in a half of play.
  • Rookie wide receiver Sammy Watkins left the game early with a rib injury. He walked off the field without assistance, and it's sounding like he's going to be just fine.
  • In a bit of a surprise move, Doug Legursky drew the start at left guard in place of the injured Chris Williams. Kraig Urbik was the first-team right guard, then flipped over to the left side with the second team, replaced there by rookie Cyril Richardson.
  • Chris Hogan was again the first-team slot receiver ahead of Robert Woods, but Watkins' early exit led to Woods seeing plenty of first-team reps at wideout, anyway.
  • Buffalo dominated time of possession in the first half, but that's largely because the Steelers were quick-strike offensively. Ben Roethlisberger threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown on the first possession of the game, and the Steelers also capitalized on the Manuel pick when Roethlisberger hit Markus Wheaton (who had beaten Stephon Gilmore) for a score.
  • Roethlisberger's final stat line: eight completions in 11 attempts, 128 yards, and two touchdowns. The Bills' starting defense struggled to combat Pittsburgh's up-tempo, spread looks.
  • The Bills' run defense continued to shine. The Steelers had accumulated 10 rushing yards on eight carries at halftime, and ended the game with just 27 yards on the ground on 16 attempts.
  • Landon Cohen recovered a fumble (forced by Jacquies Smith) with the second-unit defense, returning it 49 yards to set up a Bills touchdown in the third quarter. It continued a string of big plays from the reserve defensive tackle, but he also contributed a couple of penalties on the evening. Stefan Charles also had a strong outing in the defensive tackle battle.
  • Aaron Williams spent his time on the field with the second-team defense, continuing a trend that had developed this week in practice. Duke Williams and Da'Norris Searcy started at safety, and Searcy was the player that took a horrible angle on Brown's long touchdown reception in the first quarter.

The loss brings the Bills' four-day trip to western Pennsylvania to a close. They'll head back to Pittsford, NY, to