Steelers Look To Continue Solid Start In Home Opener Vs. Bills
Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial
|Saturday, September 15, 2007
By Eddie Griffin
Steelers Fever Columnist
Pittsburgh's 2007 season got off to a perfect start on Sunday, as the Steelers routed the Browns 34-7 in Cleveland.
Ben Roethlisberger threw for 161 yards and four scores, and Willie Parker ran for 109 yards to lead the offense. The defense forced five turnovers (two picks, three fumbles), and recorded six sacks.
On Sunday, they make their first regular-season appearance at home, going up against the Buffalo Bills, who dropped a 15-14 decision at home to Denver.
The Bills were outgained 470-184 by the Broncos, but had the win secured until Jason Elam's last-second field goal. It's been an emotional week for the Bills, who lost TE Kevin Everett in that game to what, at the time, was looked at as a life-threatening spinal injury, which occurred on a special teams tackle.
Everett's prognosis has greatly improved, and knowing that their teammate has made a miraculous turnaround might give them an emotional lift on Sunday.
Will the Steelers build off of their big win on Sunday and move to 2-0? Or, will the Bills ride to an emotional win, and spoil Pittsburgh's home opener?
Looking at the Bills
On offense, the Bills' ship is captained by QB J.P. Losman, who is in his second season as Buffalo's full-time starter under center. Losman had a poor outing against the Broncos, going 14 of 21 for only 97 yards, and was intercepted once.
Bills' rookie running back Marshawn Lynch was a bright spot, rushing for 90 yards and a score. And, speedy WR/KR Roscoe Parrish returned a punt 74 yards for a score in the loss.
The defense, meanwhile, was porous on Sunday, giving up 470 total yards. They were torched through the air by Jay Cutler, who threw for 304 yards, and on the ground by Travis Henry, who threw for 159 yards. Bills' DBs were busy making tackles on Sunday, as free safety Jim Leonhard led the way with 13 stops and a pick, and second-year strong safety Donte Whitner made nine stops.
Keys to Victory
A repeat performance offensively will put the Steelers in a great position for the win. The Bills were ripped apart on D against Denver, and the Steelers clicked on all cylinders on offense against the Browns.
But, the key for Pittsburgh in putting the game away will be to capitalize on their opportunities. Denver had all those yards, but needed Elam's field goal to escape with a victory.
Lynch flashed his potential on Sunday, and no doubt Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff have watched film on him quite a bit this week. He's dangerous both running and catching, so limiting his productivity will be key.
Pittsburgh recorded six sacks last Sunday, with three of them coming from defensive backs.
Pittsburgh offensive line vs. Buffalo front seven
The line gave Big Ben time to throw, and made holes for Willie Parker to run through on Sunday. It was an impressive outing for the revamped Steelers' offensive line, which was a question mark coming in. If they can keep it up, that could lead to another great, balanced offensive day.
The Buffalo front seven gave Jay Cutler time to throw, and Travis Henry holes to run through. The difference is that the Bills weren't supposed to let that happen.
If they can't shore it up on Sunday, then it's going to be a long, long day for the Bills' secondary, who will have to be all over the place, not only defending passes but trying to make tackles.
What We'll See
You can expect the Bills to come out ready to play and ready to pull out a big win for their teammate.
But, the Steelers have a clear edge in this one, and all signs are pointing to Mike Tomlin keeping his unbeaten coaching record for at least one more week, as the Steelers should win comfortably and send the Heinz Field crowd home happy on Sunday.