Pittsburgh 17 – Buffalo 0
Photo: David Hague – Inside Pittsburgh Sports
In their most important game of the preseason, the defending Super Bowl champions put on a dominating performance in the first half.
Ben Roethlisberger went 15-of-19 for 168 yards and James Farrior had a 22-yard interception return for a touchdown as the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Buffalo Bills 17-0 Saturday night.
Roethlisberger plays near flawless first half
The best sign of Saturday’s game was the performance of Ben Roethlisberger. Roethlisberger led two scoring drives while going 15-of-19 for 168 yards with a 103.5 passer rating. He was moving around in the pocket fine and his ankle injury does not look to be an issue.
Mike Tomlin indicated after the game that Roethlisberger will likely play a series or two in the Steelers final preseason game but he will consider all options.
Mendenhall runs for 48 yards and a TD
In the words of Mike Tomlin, Mendenhall was “decisive”, rushing for 48 yards and a touchdown. Mendenhall had his finest outing of the preseason, including two rushes of 10+ yards to the right side. He also picked up 16 yards on two receptions.
Late in the 1st half, Mendenhall capped off a 13-play, 87-yard drive, rushing for a 4 yard touchdown run.
The one negative of Mendenhall’s night was a fumble he had at Buffalo’s 21 yard line. According to Mike Tomlin, Mendenhall wasn’t at fault. He blamed the offensive line for allowing penetration as Buffalo’s Kyle Williams caused the fumble.
Sweed locks up #3 recever spot
Making his first start of the preseason, Limas Sweed had 4 receptions for 34 yards, including a 16 yard reception.
Sweed made two key grabs and Roethlisberger continues to show confidence in the 2nd year pro.
Overall, Sweed had his most consistent game of the preseason that included no drops. The coaching staff continues to rave about the improvement in his route running.
Ward remains Roethlisberger’s go-to-guy
Every year it expected that Hines Ward will take a step back. While it’s believed Ward has lost a step when it comes to his running ability, if healthy, he’s going to have 75+ catches again this season.
Play after play, Ward finds a way to get open.
Against the Bills, Ward made a number of tough grabs, finishing the first half with 5 receptions for 70 yards. Wards longest reception of the night was a 23 yard strike from Roethlisberger in the second quarter.
Right side of the Offensive Line has a strong game
Rashard Mendenhall had rushes for 13 and 12 yards in the first half. Each run was to the right side while there were no running lanes on the majority of Mendenhall’s rushes to the left side.
The Bills were getting a lot of penetration on starting left guard Chris Kemoeatu who struggled at times.
One player that continues to have a strong training camp and preseason is starting right tackle Willie Colon.
Steelers considering keeping 4 tight ends
Heath Miller and Matt Spaeth are locks to make the roster as the Steelers #1 and #2 tight ends. After Spaeth it gets very interesting.
The Steelers signed #3 tight end Sean McHugh to a three year contract in the off-season. McHugh sidelined due to arthoscopic knee surgery is the Steelers primary full back in certain running situations.
The player the Steelers love is rookie tight end David Johnson. Johnson can contribute at tight end, special teams and full back. He gives the Steelers a number of options.
A longshot to make the roster when training camp began, some believe he has earned a roster spot.
Johnson received 1st team reps against Buffalo during passing situations on 3rd down. There is a strong chance the Steelers keep four running backs Mendenhall, Parker, Moore and Davis and opt to keep Johnson instead of adding a 5th running back to the roster.
The Steelers can easily get Isaac Redman or Justin Vincent on the practice squad.
If Redman was a serious contender to earn a roster spot as the Steelers goal line back, he would have been on the field in place of Rashard Mendenhall during the Steelers goal line situation.
Moore is Roethlisberger’s security blanket on third down
Mewelde Moore made his debut of the preseason and had two two third down receptions for a total of 18 yards.
Moore does a great job of finding the open lanes in the middle of the field on passing downs.
Roethlisberger (15-19, 168 yards, 105.3 QB rating)
Batch (7-9, 79 yards, 103.2 QB rating)
Reilly (3-3, 35 yards, 115.3 QB rating)
Mendenhall (16 CAR – 48 YDS – 1TD)
Redman (13 CAR – 31 YDS)
Vincent (5 CAR – 5 YDS)
Moore (1 CAR – 2 YDS)
Ward (5 REC – 70 YDS)
Sweed (4 REC – 34 YDS)
Williams (3 REC – 28 YDS)
Miller (2 REC – 26 YDS)
Sherrod (1 REC – 21 YDS)
Redman (1 REC – 19 YDS)
Moore (2 REC – 18 YDS)
McDonald (2 REC – 18 YDS)
Mendenhall (2 REC – 16 YDS)
Johnson (1 REC – 13 YDS)
Baker (1REC – 12 YDS)
Nance (1REC – 3 YDS)
Kick Returns – Wallace (24 YDS)
Punt Returns – Moore (6 YDS), Logan (63 Yards on 4 returns)