It was a homecoming of sorts for the kid here, as I enjoyed a stellar weekend of football, family and fun in my hometown that commenced with a rout of the Buff Bills, as Myron Cope used to call them.
* I had a chance to visit with the voice of the Bills when I was growing up, Van Miller, who's 84 years young. But the highlight of the day was sitting down and catching up with Bills HOF guard Joe DeLamielleure. I met Joe when I was a high school junior and struck up a friendship with him. I actually worked out a couple of summers with him. He drove me into the ground with his workouts. Joe now works partially as a rep for the Seneca Indians gaming casino.
* I said "Joe, how'd you get that gig? You ain't got Indian blood in you with a last name like DeLamielleure?" Joe laughed and said, "No but when I interviewed for the job I told the guy that when I was 10 years old, we played cowboys and Indians and I always wanted to be the Indian."
* On the sidelines of Ralph Wilson Stadium pre-game, I got into a discussion with Kevin Colbert about the Bills' NT during their Super Bowl years of the early nineties. Colbert said it was Jim Burt, a former high school teammate of mine at Orchard Park. I said no, but that I didn't know who it was. I later learned it was Jeff Wright, but I knew it wasn't Jim because he was out of the game by then. Mark the tape. I was right.
* It was an unusually hot day at the "Ralph" and the FieldTurf was so hot Troy Polamalu had his hair up in a bun. I got into a discussion with Steelers surgeon Jim Bradley about FieldTurf. The doctor says research was coming forward about how this turf, with the granulated or ground up car tires used in the base as a synthetic "dirt," is actually more dangerous. I even had a conversation with Max Starks and how this game made him nervous coming off the knee rehab. As the sun heats the shredded rubber, it gets stickier and guys get their feet stuck in the turf. It would prove to be prophetic.
* It was so hot my Peanut M&M's were getting squishy in my pocket.
* Mmmm, I just got a text from my mom. Tunch and I were heading to stay over at mom's after the game. Mom thinks of Tunch as one of her sons and she just laid out the post-game snackerations. The homemade cinnamon rolls were calling.
* In the first quarter, after the Steelers punted, I watched the soon-to-be-released Mortty Ivy on the punt team. Mortty has had a decent camp, but he needs to flash some big hits and splash plays. This wasn't one of them, as he got beat up pretty good by one of the Bills.
* One of the tricks is that if you knock a guy down on special teams, play "Ming the Merciless" on him. Do not give the guy a chance to recover. Ivy was trying to get to his feet after being knocked off-balance in a scrum, and he got the worst of it.
* It's vintage Dick LeBeau to "play your gaps" on a second-and-2 and LaMarr Woodley powered up the ham hocks and drove the Bills TE about five yards into the backfield. LaMarrr was setting the edge while in a locked out position on the TE and looking straight at the ball carrier. Ziggy Hood fought through a double team and strung it out at the line of scrimmage. Right behind him was NT Steve McClendon getting front side on the Bills' center. The Bills' back, Fred Jackson, had nowhere to go, so he planted and headed north. DE Brett Keisel beat the pants off the backside tackle to come down the line and crush Jackson for no gain. Sweet Marie, this is defensive football like it was drawn up on the board.
* Dave DeCastro, a pileup, and pain. Enough said. Lotta glum faces on the coaching and medical staff after they came off the field. That turf needs to go.
* First and goal from the Steelers' 1-yard line and Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick spread a 6-7 TE by the name of Scott Chandler across the field wide, mano-y-mano with Troy Polamalu in coverage. It's obvious who they're going after and I'm thinking jump ball. But it ended up being a corner route and Troy stripped the ball from a much larger man like a New York City pickpocket. Crafty guy that Polamalu.
* Antonio Brown really showed a nice quick release after Bills CB Eric Williams stepped up to the line in man-press coverage after lining up in the off position. In one super quick motion Brown beat Williams to the outside and Ben Roethlisberger floated the ball over the top for an 11-yard gain and a first down. This had to be a sight adjustment, where the QB and WR communicate in some fashion by looking at each other the right way. What made this so interesting is it's probably a situation that will happen in Denver.
* And if Mike Wallace doesn't get here soon I'm worried about his timing on such patterns. It's not like Ben's dropping back and counting to two-Mississippi and launching it. This is all about recognition and touch, not to mention trust in being where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there.
* Bills RB C.J. Spiller ran a lead power to Hood's side. Ziggy fought off a double team with his arms extended in front like a man trying to keep a car from rolling downhill and crushing someone. I mean he was throwing all of his 300 pounds into the lockout position. And then he came off after jamming up over 700 pounds of beef and made the tackle. Awesome to watch.
* Da Beard just walked by me, heading for the locker room sitting on the doc's table. He was getting his ankle checked and walked past with an I-don't-think-it's-too-bad look on his face.
* Buffalo is a unique town. The "Macarena" just played over the P.A. system and the entire stadium was jamming to it. I thought the Macarena went out of style a decade ago.
* In the third quarter, Cortez Allen continued to impress me. Vince Young threw deep to WR Brad Smith running up the sideline and Cortez transitioned like butter from running stride for stride in man coverage to knocking the ball away. This guy is a player.
* Okay, so there's Doc Bradley, a six-footer and former college football player, demonstrating a horse-collar tackle on Steelers team nogginologist Joe Maroon. Bradley had the back of Joe's shirt and was in effect choking him, all 5'5" and 140 of Maroon. I guess the doctors were bored.
* So my training camp phenom, OLB Adrian Robinson, rushed on a pass play right before the 2:00 warning at the end of the game. It was a spin rush to the inside and he spun so hard his shoe came off. So Adrian picked his shoe up and looked frantically to the sideline for a replacement because it's fourth down and he's on the punt return team. The Bills decided to go for it on fourth down, and with no replacement in sight, Adrian lined up in his 4-point track stance after carefully putting his shoe on the ground next to him. Must be a good shoe, because he sure didn't want to lose it.
* P.S. The cinnamon rolls were awesome.