Bills lose sloppy game as team continues to struggle.
by Steve Saslow
Sept. 30, 2001
Just when we thought it couldn't get worse for the Bills it did. The Steelers walked into Buffalo and managed to put up enough to beat the struggling Bills handily at Ralph Wilson Stadium 20-3. The Steelers used a defensive touchdown in the first half and then they just wore down the Bills defense in the second half while they shutdown an anemic Buffalo offensive attack. The loss dropped the Bills to 0-3 for the first time since 1998 but unlike that team, this team has no chance of making the playoffs. They would probably be happy right now with a touchdown at home, something they didn't accomplish in their first two home games of the year.
The Steelers played sloppy as they showed a lot of rust after being off since opening day. They were penalized 12 times for 125 yards, if it wasn't for dumb penalties the final margin of victory could have even been worse. The Steelers took themselves out of good field position on many occasions thanks to penalties and had a couple of potential scoring drives snuffed out by the yellow flag. The Steelers kept plugging away offensively though and eventually wore down the Bills defense with a heavy dose of Jerome Bettis in the second half as he finished the game with 114 yards rushing as the Steelers put the game away with 10 fourth quarter points.
Early on it was a defensive struggle as neither team could muster too much offense but the Steelers defense gave the game the first points of the day. Dewayne Washington picked up a Travis Henry fumble and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter to give Pittsburgh a 7-0 lead. Up until that point Henry was running well, after the fumble he struggled badly as he finished with just 30 yards on 17 carries.
The Bills just couldn't get things moving offensively as they played without John Fina and Jonas Jennings as both tackles missed the game with injuries. It got worse for the line when Kris Farris fractured his leg in the first quarter. He was just one of many injuries for the Bills on this day as Phil Hansen and Leif Larsen dislocated their elbows and Jeremy McDaniel suffered a high ankle sprain. Tony Driver separated his shoulder and Rob Johnson would hobble out of the game for the final two series after aggravating his hip injury. The one injured Bill who did play was Eric Moulds but he continued to be a non factor as he only caught two passes and was upset after the game.
The Steelers had extended their lead to 10-0 on a chip shot field goal by Kris Brown after a 39 yard punt return setup the Steelers in great field position. One of many personal fouls against the Steelers may have kept them out of the end zone. The Bills offense which bogged down all day had their only legitimate shot a touchdown late in the half but on second and goal from the one foot line rookie tackle Marques Sullivan was called for a false start. The Bills had to settle for a field goal after Johnson threw incomplete passes to Henry and Moulds to make the score 10-3 at the half. Jake Arians 23 yard chip shot came after he had a 49 yarder go off the upright earlier in the quarter. Brown also missed a chip shot for the Steelers in the first half.
Nothing much happened in the third quarter as the Steelers kept the Bills offense at bay. Without enough healthy bodies on the offensive line, Johnson was running for his life most of the game and the Steelers secondary seemed to have good coverage on the receivers. The running game was non existent and you got the feeling the seven point lead was going to be enough. The Steelers weren't content however and started moving the ball more effectively in the final quarter as the Bills defensive line joined the offensive line in being decimated by injuries. When Hansen and Larsen left the game adding to the already scratched Bryce Fisher left the Steelers running game with room to rumble in the final quarter. They would score on back to back possessions as a Bettis 30 yard run setup a Brown field goal. On the next possession a 22 yard touchdown run by fullback Fuamatu-Ma'afala gave the Steelers the final margin of victory.
This game was suppose to give us a barometer on where the Bills fit in as far as the mediocre teams go, this showing shows they are very close to the bottom of the barrel teams. It is a young team that should improve as the season progresses but right now there are no signs of improvement on either side of the balls. It also doesn't help that this team is absolutely totally decimated by injuries right now. They aren't used as excuses in this league but when you have as little depth as the Bills do, it is an absolute killer. Even if this team remained healthy it is very likely they would still be 0-3 because they can't execute on either side of the ball or keep their quarterback upright.
It was another awful performance for the third week in a row with the bright spots getting fewer and fewer each week. He are our gameballs and goats.
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