Buffalo Bills Television Network:
WKBW (7 – Buffalo), WHAM (13 – Rochester), WTVH (5 – Syracuse), WSEE (5 – Erie, PA), CityTV (Toronto, ONT)
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Ray Bentley
COLOR ANALYST: Steve Tasker
SIDELINE REPORTER: Mike Catalana
Pittsburgh Steelers Television Network:
KDKA (2 - Pittsburgh), Fox Sports Pittsburgh, WLYH (15 - Harrisburg), WTAJ (10 - Altoona), WQCW (30 – Charleston, WV)
PLAY-BY-PLAY: Bob Pompeani
COLOR ANALYST: Edmund Nelson
SIDELINE REPORTER: Jeff Verszyla
Yet another unsuccessful visit to the Steel City for the Bills, who last won a regular-season game on the banks of the Allegheny when Lou Saban coached the team.
Early on, it looked like this trip might be different. After holding Pittsburgh to a field goal on their opening drive, Terrence McGee’s 44-yard return set the Bills up at their own 43. Marshawn Lynch ripped off a 12-yard run on the first play from scrimmage ... but that was the end of the first-half highlight reel. The first of four sacks on J.P. Losman knocked them back to the Buffalo 48, and they wouldn’t get another first down, or cross midfield again, until the third quarter.
Meanwhile, new Pittsburgh offensive coordinator Bruce Arians set about proving the old, run-heavy Steeler playbook no longer applied. Ben Roethlisberger threw a remarkable 29 passes to nine different receivers in the first half, with as many completions (16) as the Bills had offensive plays.
“It’s good to spread the ball around,” Roethlisberger, who finished the day 21-of-34 for 242 yards and a touchdown, said after the game. “Everyone I can think of caught a ball tonight and that’s my goal going into every game, to try and get everybody at least one ball.”
The Buffalo defense managed to stop them short of the end zone on each of four long, time-consuming drives, but the home team still went into the locker room with a 12-0 halftime lead.
McGee gave the Bills another lift on the second-half kickoff – helped by officials who didn’t see him step out of bounds well upfield – and his 63-yard runback put Losman in business at the Pittsburgh 32. Seven consecutive running plays got them to the 5, but the drive stalled there and Rian Lindell ended the shutout with a 24-yard field goal.
At that point, the Steelers running game took over. Pounding the ball against a rapidly tiring Bills defense, they scored touchdowns on two of their next three possessions to put the game out of reach. Buffalo would threaten twice more, but turned the ball over on downs each time, and backup quarterback Charlie Batch entered the game to run the final 3:51 off the clock.
“We didn’t perform at the level we needed to on the offensive side,” Dick Jauron said afterward. “Our return game was pretty good. They gave us a couple of chances, and we were close a couple of other times. Our defense fought. It was 12-0 at halftime. We felt good coming in, but that was – not very good, and here we are, two scores out of this thing. All in all, it was a very disappointing day for us, to suffer our second loss and not perform at a very high level on the offensive side. We have a lot of work to do.”
Losman, who completed two of just five passes in the first half, thought a change in the gameplan might be in order. “I just think that we probably need to open it up a little bit more in the beginning,” the frustrated quarterback said. “I think that we are back on our heels a little bit in the beginning. It’s tricky because we are running the ball good and we want to stick to it but I think that attacking more a little bit earlier in the game might help us out. We opened it up in the second half, and we had some good things happen to us then.”
Asked if the emotion following Kevin Everett’s injury the previous week had adversely impacted the team, Derrick Dockery refused to take advantage of the potential explanation, saying, “You can’t make any excuses because you are a professional. No doubt Kevin’s situation was tough on us but you have to find a way, and coach did a great job getting us prepared. We just have to do a better job of executing the game plan.”
Jauron agreed. “There’s no denying it was a difficult week,” he admitted, but then continued, “Our guys prepared well, they worked hard all week. I just tip my hat to the Steelers and say, ‘We didn’t get it done.’ ”
NOTES: The win was the 500th in Steelers history ... Pittsburgh, aided by converting 11-of-16 third-down plays and never punting until the fourth quarter, held the ball for an overwhelming 35:27 of gametime ... Parker finished the game with 23 carries for 126 yards, scoring an 11-yard touchdown on his final attempt ... Lynch ground out a tough 64 yards on 18 carries against a defense that last allowed a 100-yard rusher in 2005 ... With plenty of opportunities, McGee chalked up 170 return yards, breaking 100 for the third consecutive game ... Roscoe Parrish led all Bills receivers with 6 catches for 56 yards ... Safety Jim Leonhard picked off Roethlisberger for his second INT in as many weeks ... With a fourth-quarter sack, Aaron Schobel tied Phil Hansen (61.5) for second place on the Bills all-time list behind Bruce Smith (171.0) ... In his first professional game in Pennsylvania, his home state, Paul Posluszny led the team with 12 tackles ... The Steelers improved to 2-0, while Buffalo fell to 0-2.