Bills vs. Steelers: Halftime Thoughts

EJ Manuel looked strong in his start and led the team on two scoring drives.

The Buffalo Bills lead the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-19 at halftime. Both teams were able to move the ball down the field in the first half and two quarterbacks really impressed against the Steelers defense.

Welcome back, Fred!

Buffalo opened the game with excellent field position after the defense forced a three and out and Marcus Thigpen returned a punt 19 yards. Fred Jackson took it from there.

On 1st and down, Jackson ran the ball for a gain of 41 yards before being tackled at the two yard line. After a one yard gain, Jackson leaped into the end zone to put the Bills on the board. Jackson’s first preseason series of the year was pretty successful for the 34 year old back.

E.J. Manuel looks sharp at quarterback in two series

Manuel was with the third team offense against the Panthers and played the second half against the Browns. This week, Manuel was given the starting nod against the Steelers and he looked sharp early. His first pass was a short throw to Marquise Goodwin. The receiver made a man miss and gained 16 yards on the play.

Manuel’s next throw was a deep bomb to a wide open Charles Clay for a 67 yard touchdown. Clay is the first legitimate tight end weapon the Bills have had in years and he looked the part in the first quarter against Pittsburgh.

Matt Cassel came in at quarterback in the third series. Manuel finished his two series 2-of-2 for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Tyrod Taylor impresses

Taylor had enough time for one true series in the first half and he looked outstanding for Buffalo. The quarterback went 6-of-7 for 70 yards that ended in a Ricky Seale touchdown run.

Taylor had enough time to make one pass in his second series before the half came to an end that went for eight yards. The play moved Buffalo into field goal range and allowed Dan Carpenter to make a 52-yard field goal.

Taylor has earned the starting job in camp and the preseason. Now, the decision is up to the coaching staff.

Rough half for Darby

Ronald Darby gave up 50 yards in penalties in the first quarter against the Steelers.

In Pittsburgh’s second series, Ben Roethlisberger targeted the rookie cornerback and threw a deep pass to Martavis Bryant. The pass was overthrown but Darby was called for pass interference. The penalty moved the ball 35 yards down the field.

On the following series, Darby was called for pass interference a second time on Bryant. This time for a gain of 15 yards. It’s been an up and down preseason for Darby, but there’s no doubt that Andrew Luck and the Colts will be targeting Darby early and often in Week 1.

Dareus held out

Marcell Dareus wasn’t on the original inactive list but he was held out late with a leg injury. Corbin Bryant played in Dareus’ place and looked good recording a sack, quarterback hit and two tackles for loss. While no one can replace Dareus, Bryant hasn’t looked bad.

Defense disappoints

Buffalo’s starting defense did not look good against the Steelers in their dress rehearsal. The unit gave up 19 points and gave up a lot of yards to Pittsburgh. Stephon Gilmore left early with an injury and Dareus was inactive but it wasn’t a great effort by the defense.

To be fair to Buffalo’s defense, there probably wasn’t much game planning done for Saturday’s contest. Nonetheless, it wasn’t the effort that Bills fans expected.

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