Sunday, August 17, 2014

Going in the right direction, but still too sloppy

Ryan Shazier, intercepting an E.J. Manuel pass.
Steeler Nation is very happy to see first-hand evidence that Ryan Shazier is the real deal, as he displayed the speed, instincts and athleticism we've all heard about.

"Obviously," the final score doesn't matter much in pre-season games, but the Steelers' sloppy 19-16 win over the Buffalo Bills broke a five-game pre-season losing streak, so that's a good thing.  It was the first pre-season win by Pittsburgh since August 30, 2012, when the Steelers defeated the Carolina Panthers, 17-16, to wrap up a 3-1 pre-season campaign.

Antonio Brown, off and running.
The Steelers' first-team offense looked crisp vs. Buffalo's first-team defense. Ben Roethlisberger looked like the seasoned vet that he is. He knew where he was going with the ball, and he got rid of it. It's as if Roethlisberger, after 11 years in the league, decided he simply wasn't going to get hit in a meaningless exhibition game.

Now, if only Roethlisberger can continue that sort of quick-release tempo into the regular season, the offense should be mostly okay ... although the running game accomplished nothing against the Bills. That shouldn't be too much of a concern, though, as the plan was to work the no-huddle passing game.

"We kind of came in with the mindset that we would throw the ball around with our first group and run some no-huddle things," Mike Tomlin said. "I thought that went well."

On defense, despite Shazier's heroics, should we be worried that a Buffalo offense led by E.J. Manuel tallied 212 yards of total offense in the first half? Granted, it was dink-and-dunk, with Manuel averaging only 5.5 yards per attempt, but still, surrendering 212 yards in one half to E.J. Manuel doesn't sound good. And the Bills had nearly a 10-minute edge in time of possession, with 66 offensive plays to 35 late in the game.

"We created some turnovers, the defense, and that’s always good," Tomlin said. "We responded to some situations but some things obviously need to be cleaned up. Too many penalties, too many missed tackles."

True dat.

It's just good to be in the win column again, even if it's a "meaningless" pre-season game.

Next up: At Philadelphia, where we should expect to see a very aggressive up-tempo offensive effort by the Eagles.

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