Steelers 38, Bills 7

Coach Mike Tomlin doesn’t blame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger

for showing his frustrations after a penalty that backed the

Pittsburgh Steelers to a yard from their goal line.

Tomlin was just as upset with the penalty, and yet not surprised

with how Roethlisberger responded.

After taking a step backward, Roethlisberger moved the Steelers

forward with a 98-yard, go-ahead touchdown march in the final two

minutes of the second quarter of a 38-7 preseason rout of the

winless Buffalo Bills on Saturday night.

”I’ve been looking at Ben going on six years now, I’m not

surprised by it,” Tomlin said.

Roethlisberger hit eight of nine passes for 95 yards on a drive

he capped by threading a 6-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown

with 13 seconds left. And the spark could be credited to an illegal

substitution penalty that put the Steelers on their heels, facing

second-and-11 from their 1 yard line.

Shortly after the penalty was called, Roethlisberger showed his

displeasure by angrily gesturing at the bench.

”He definitely got fired up and got a little hyped,” Brown

said. ”He’s special. The things he’s able to do in two-minute

situations, there’s something special about his leadership and

playmaking ability.”

Brown had seven catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns,

including a 39-yard catch from backup Byron Leftwich in the opening

minute of the second half. Roethlisberger shook off a slow start in

going 17 of 24 for 169 yards passing in helping the Steelers (No. 7

in the AP Pro32) improve to 2-1.

The Bills (No. 19) dropped to 0-3 this preseason while

continuing a trend of familiar struggles on both offense and

defense. And that’s not what coach Chan Gailey was looking for this

week in expressing a desire to see more consistency from his

starters.

”We got a little bit rattled,” Gailey said, referring to

allowing the Steelers to score at the end of the half. ”We have to

hold our composure better than we did.”

The Ryan Fitzpatrick-led offense managed just 131 yards and

seven first downs in playing the entire first half. It was limited

to scoring just one touchdown – Fred Jackson’s 1-yard plunge –

despite five of seven possessions inside Steelers territory.

”That goes down to consistency, and it’s something we need to

get better at,” said Fitzpatrick.

And yet the starter remained upbeat, cautioning that this was

only the preseason and adding that there isn’t need for

concern.

”It’s going to be OK, it’s going to be OK, take a breath,”

Fitzpatrick said on several occasions while making his way through

the locker room.

Fitzpatrick finished 7 of 18 for 89 yards, while backup Vince

Young struggled in his bid to clinch the No. 2 job. Young went 12

for 26 for 103 yards passing and two interceptions.

On the bright side, Bills defensive end Mario Williams – who

became the NFL’s highest-paid defensive player after signing a

six-year $100 million contract in March – was credited with his

first two sacks of the preseason. Defensive tackles Kyle Williams

and Marcell Dareus also had a solid game in plugging the middle

while also flushing Roethlisberger out of the pocket.

”I think it was a step forward,” Kyle Williams said. ”After

that sudden change, we didn’t respond well to it, but in the future

hopefully we can put it behind us.”

The trouble was a failure to finish, in allowing the Steelers to

score despite being backed up deep in their own end.

Steelers running back Isaac Redman also scored on a 2-yard run,

Leftwich threw two touchdown passes, including a 10-yarder to

Derrick Williams, and running back Chris Rainey scored on a 41-yard

touchdown run with 2:44 left.

The Steelers defense also contributed, forcing three turnovers –

a forced fumble and two interceptions – all of which led directly

to touchdowns.

In closing the half with a touchdown, the Steelers gained more

yards (99 in total) than the 96 they had in their first six

possessions. The key play on the drive occurred with the Steelers

facing third-and-9, when Roethlisberger hit running back Jonathan

Dwyer with a perfectly placed 33-yard pass up the left

sideline.

”I just started calling my own plays,” Roethlisberger said.

”We went no-huddle and up-tempo, and we were throwing the

ball.”

Roethlisberger did it with an offense that’s missing two key

starters, running back Rashard Mendenhall (right knee) and receiver

Mike Wallace (contract holdout). And it was a unit that lost rookie

first-round draft pick, right guard David DeCastro, who did not

return after hurting his right knee on the second possession.

The good news is, there’s a growing belief in the Steelers

locker room that Wallace is prepared to return soon.

Brown welcomed that possibility.

”We definitely need No. 17 here,” Brown said, referring to

Wallace’s jersey number. ”It’s going to be interesting to get him

back, because he adds another explosive dimension on the

field.”

Notes: Tomlin said DeCastro’s injury is potentially severe, but

will wait until further tests. … Leftwich went 5 of 8 for 105

yards, including a TD to Williams, which came shortly after Robert

Golden intercepted Young. … The Bills’ only scoring drive came on

their second possession, and set up by Fitzpatrick’s 25-yard pass

in hitting David Nelson on a crossing pattern over the middle. …

Steelers PK Daniel Hrapmann rounded out the scoring with a 40-yard

field goal.

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