Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Shazier Rises: Steelers Win


Pittsburgh Parking Authority changed the rates for some of their downtown garages. It used to be $5 on gameday at any garage downtown. However, the two closest to the North Shore (6th & Duquesne across the Clemente Bridge) and 9th & Penn are now $7 and $6 respectively. All the other ones are still $5 and it's free to ride the T from downtown to the stadium. Don't pay extra if you don't have to.

Regardless, it was good to be back.

Frisbee dogs before the game. One of them decided to use the 45 yard line as their personal outhouse. 

The Steelers lost the toss and Ben spent some time trying to convince Gene Steratore to give him the coin from the game so he could give it to one of the kids that were the honorary co-captains. Steratore probably told him they needed to keep the coin in case the game went to OT so they could flip it again. Foreshadowing.

Things almost started poorly when CJ Spiller broke up the seam on the opening kick return but Suisham and Will Gay brought him down. Ryan Shazier made his impact felt immediately, making tackles on consecutive check-down throws. The Bills mostly kept it on the ground and Shazier was flying around. The Bills got a gift of a first down on a defensive penalty to move them into field goal range. The Bills don't get much farther and settle for a field goal.


The Steelers come out with a spread set and start with a bubble screen to Archer. On second down off a 5-wide set Ben hits AB on a quick slant and he turns on the afterburners and is gooooooone.

Suisham MISSES the extra long extra point.

That's two misses from the 30-40 range in 2 games. Somewhat concerning.


The Bills start to move the ball and get a big gift with a 15-yard penalty on Mike Mitchell for taunting. Two plays later, Manuel tries to go down the seam to a TE but Ryan Shazier leaps in front and picks off the pass, taking it back across midfield.

The drive gets moving with a pass to Lance Moore and a 3rd down offsides penalty on the Bills that gives us a first down. The Prescription picks his way forward on a few runs, making something out of nothing every time and move the chains. On the subsequent third down, Ben guns one to the back pylon to Wheaton on a flag route that he reels in and drags his feet for the touchdown.


Good show from the first team offense

The Bills move the ball a little bit, dinking and dunking with short passes. Chris Carter started the game at OLB in place of Jarvis Jones but he was pulled after one series for Arthur Moats, who played pretty well against his former team. Better than Carter, at any rate.

Second Quarter

In true Dick LeBeau defense fashion, the dink and dunks may work for a little while, but eventually you're going to get caught with a running back trying to block an outside linebacker. Jason Worlids didn't quite get the sack because Manuel threw the ball away and got called for intentional grounding. After a pass to the TE on 3rd down that almost gets to the sticks, Buffalo opts for a field goal and Dan Carpenter hits from 53 at the open end of Heinz Field. 

What. Shocking.


Ben picks up right where he left off, slinging one to Antonio Brown on a deep curl on 3rd down to move the chains. The drive stalls out when Ben hits Heath just short of the sticks near midfield. Ben does that thing he does where he keeps the offense on the field on a 4th and short to try to draw an offsides but just burns a timeout. Punt.

The Bills move the ball again with two passes to Robert Woods. The first was thanks to a broken tackle when Troy got pulled off his back. The second was on a third and long when Manuel found him on the sideline. Shazier continues making tackles. Lawrence Timmons decides to remind us he's still around too and makes a big stop on 3rd and 1. Rather than kick a 42-yard field goal, Doug Marrone opts to go for it. Manuel's pass is batted down by Cam Heyward and Ike tackles the receiver mid-route, drawing a flag. The back judge apparently doesn't understand the rules of tipped passes.

Thankfully, Gene Steratore does and waived off the flag.
Turnover on downs.

In a somewhat strange decision, Landry Jones comes in ahead of Bruce Gradkowski. On his first pass attempt, Jones stares down Lance Moore in double-coverage and throws the ball right to the defensive back.

The second team defense comes out to defend the short field. Of note, McCullers and Mauro were on the second-team DL with Williams and Spence as the LBs and Blake and McCain playing corner. The Bills first team offense moves the ball down inside the 10 against our second string defense. 

With a 4th and goal from the 5, Doug Marrone passes up another field goal and opts to go for it. Robert Golden gets a hand out and knocks the ball away from Scott Chandler for another turnover on downs. Two big stands by the defense.

Landry Jones takes a knee to end the half, which was the most successful thing her did the entire game.


This happened:

Also, gotta love the jersey choices by the two Bills fans in front of me

Third Quarter

On the first play from scrimmage, Landry Jones picks up right where he left off by getting sacked then almost throwing a pick. Luckily, a penalty on the Bills gives the Steelers an automatic first down. Jones does complete a pass to David Paulson who was wide open over the middle, but follows it up by throwing one a mile behind Paulson on 3rd down. Punt.

Thad Lewis comes in at QB for the Bills and he's not all that different from EJ Manuel. Lewis dumps one off to a FB out of the backfield who is wide open down the sideline. The FB puts a shoulder into Robert Golden and bowls him over then continues his rumble before Shamarko catches him and knocks the ball out. Golden makes his way back into the play and falls on it.
The refs reviewed the play to see if the runner stepped out of bounds, which he did not, and it was Steelers ball.

Landry Jones actually completes a pass, which is a swing pass to Dri Archer who takes off down the sideline and blows past most of the Bills defense before he is run out of bounds 40 yards later.

Jones tries to take a shot for the end zone and throws a good pass to Bryant who gets held up by the defensive back and draws a flag. On the next play, Landry holds on to the ball for far too long and gets sacked and fumbles. One of the Bills linemen scoop it up and it's like a slow-motion 300-pounder race to the goal line between the Bills linemen and the Steelers linemen before David Paulson finally catches him from behind.

The defense gets off to a rocky start when Antwon Blake takes a pass interference penalty in the end zone for pulling down a receiver, giving the Bills the ball at the 1. It takes a few plays, but the Bills punch it in. Some dude named Boobie Dixon scored. That's a real person's name.


The Steelers try to get something together with the ol' run-run-pass but Landry Jones sucks and throws the ball behind Bryant on 3rd down. Punt.

The Bills get a decent return and take over near midfield. Thad Lewis can't do anything with it except make Chris Carter miss a sack. Carter missing a sack gives me an opportunity to drop my random bit of Chris Carter trivia on those sitting around me (he is one of only 2 people to start multiple games at 3-4 OLB for the Steelers and never record a sack). 

We all became witnesses to history when the Steelers pulled their 3rd string quarterback in a preseason game because he was awful and replaced him with their 2nd string quarterback. Gradkowski came in to relieve Jones and doesn't do much because of two penalties on linemen. How bad was Landry Jones? He played himself out of an exhibition game.

The Bills take over near midfield because of a facemask penalty on the return. Lewis is able to move the Bills into field goal range thanks to a read option run but badly overthrows a pass on 3rd down and Robert Golden zooms in and makes the interception. 

Gradkowski runs a little no huddle but doesn't move the ball and the Steelers go 3-and-out.

Jeff Tuel comes in at QB for Buffalo.

Fourth Quarter

Tuel hits a few passes to move the Bills into field goal range. Carpenter shanks it from 48 as Heinz Field gets its redemption for Carpenter hitting from 53 earlier.

Two penalties on the Bills start things off in the right direction then Gradkowski throws one up that Bryant goes up and snares along the sideline to move us across midfield. On 3rd and 11, Gradkowski scrambles away from pressure and picks up enough yardage to get us into field goal range. Suisham drills it from 48.


The Bills go 3-and-out thanks to Josh Mauro coming up with a sack on 3rd down.
 Book it.
(Timeloop edit: The Steelers signed Brett Keisel, so maybe not)

The Steelers respond by going 3-and-out and not running much clock.

Tuel gets things started for Buffalo with a 3rd down scramble that moves the chains and gets the Bills across the 40. A completed pass moves the Bills into Steelers territory then a near interception gets hauled in by the Bills receiver to move the sticks again. Things start to look bleak when the Bills move into the red zone. Week 1 hero Howard Jones gets pressure and draws a holding penalty on 3rd down, pushing them back. Tuel gets sacked again by Mauro as the clock ticks down to 2 minutes.

Doug Marrone has the whole 2-minute warning to think about if he wants to risk going to overtime and the extended risk of injury in a glorified scrimmage. He decides it's worth it and sends out his kick team (after going for it on 4th downs twice in the first half). William Gay is incensed. He was out to the numbers with his arms out yelling at the Bills bench.

Carpenter makes it and we're all tied up.


Gradkowski takes the helm with just under two minutes to play and gets things rolling with a pass to Kashif Moore on the sideline. Bryant makes a catch to get us to third and short that Gradkowski picks up with his feet when the pocket breaks down. On the next play, Gradkowski takes a shot for Bryant down the sideline and Bryant tips it up in the air and the safety coming across makes the pick.

Things look bleak with Jeff Tuel under center and 43 seconds left. All signs point to overtime. Tuel completes a pass for 9 yards and the Bills use a timeout to stop the clock. On second down, Terrence Garvin shoots up the gap and comes up with a sack. The Bills strangely use another timeout. On third down, Vic So'oto comes up with a huge play ripping past the tackle and sacking Tuel, knocking the ball out. His partner in crime Howard Jones shoves a Bill out of the way and scoops up the ball and rumbles towards the end zone, taking it all the way down to the two.

What a turn of events.

Gradkowski takes a knee to run the clock down to 2 seconds. Suisham drills it and sends us home victors.


Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Antonio Brown
Defensive Game Ball: Ryan Shazier
Honorable Mentions:
Robert Golden
Josh Mauro
Vic So'oto
Howard Jones
Ben Roethlisberger
Markus Wheaton
Dri Archer

Final Thoughts
  • Ryan Shazier may not have been the draft pick that many fans (myself included) wanted, but he just might be the player this team needed.
  • I would not be surprised at all if the Steelers signed another quarterback this week.
  • Ryan Shazier. Wow. That was better than I could have even hoped for. Yes, he made some mistakes, but what a debut.
  • Troy Polamalu obviously wasn't thrown off by not having participated in any tackling drills. Picking up right where he left off.
  • Sean Spence was everywhere once again, this time with the second team defense.
  • Josh Mauro continues to impress. He is clearly better than Brian Arnfelt at this point.
  • Another solid game from Markus Wheaton with an excellent grab on the touchdown.
  • All Antonio Brown does is make big plays.
  • The offense worked a lot of no huddle in this game and moved the ball well. Have to think they'll work on running the ball a little bit in the next few weeks.
  • Suisham is a bit concerning after missing the extra point, his second miss in the 30-40 range in as many weeks. He did hit a 48-yarder though.
  • Short turnaround to the game against the Eagles, but there was a lot to like from the first team in this one.

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