Thoughts From The Pressbox

Dale Lolley has the inside story from Buffalo following the Steelers' 43-19 to the Bills.

There was, as you can imagine, some consternation in the locker room following the Steelers' 43-19 demolition at the hands of the Buffalo Bills here at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The Steelers forced the Bills to punt just once in the game and had three incompletions in 33 pass attempts from a group that included luminaries such as Tyrod Taylor, E.J. Manuel, Matt Cassel and Matt Simms.

That isn't exactly a who's who of quarterbacks.

"Today was a horrible performance," said linebacker James Harrison. "It was like Burger King. They were having it their way and we were serving it to them. I’m just being honest."

Yes he was.

Mike Tomlin didn't candy coat the performance, either, even though he did acknowledge many of the players who were making the mistakes were not players who the Steelers will be counting on to play come Sept. 10 in New England.

"Some of our young guys, who are fighting for jobs, quite frankly are not executing with enough detail to be in consideration," Tomlin said. "And that’s disappointing. As we push through to the end of this, I’d like to see the arrow pointed up and them fighting for jobs. Some of those guys, quite frankly, looked like walking dead. We’ve got to analyze that and keep those who are committed to fighting. Some of that stuff was quite disturbing, not the kind of performance we’re looking for."

While the Steelers opened the game without defensive end Stephon Tuitt, free safety Mike Mitchell and inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons, it was still appalling that the Bills hit the rest of the starters for a 41-yard run on their opening possession and a 67-yard touchdown pass on the second possession before Cam Heyward and some other key defensive starters - is there such a thing for the Steelers right now? - were also pulled from the game.

"A little bit? A lot," said Heyward when asked if he was a little concerned about the defense. "I don’t know what the exact cause was, but there’s going to have to be a level of improvement going into the season. We’ll look at it and try to get better from it.

"Whoever’s out there has to know what to do. That’s what practice is for. It’s got to get better. I would say it was just unacceptable. We understand that there are going to be mistakes, but we’ve got to get better and not let it happen anymore."

* Martavis Bryant sort of spoke to the media for the first time since it was learned that he is facing a suspension to open the season.

Bryant didn't say much, other than to admit he spoke with his teammates regarding the situation.

"We talk every day. Ain’t nothing changed between me and my teammates at all," said Bryant, who had three catches for 138 yard and a touchdown and also drew pass interference penalty that set up another score.

"I just wanted to go out and play hard like I do every week when I step on the field."

The Steelers didn't find out about Bryant's suspension from the league. They heard about it from the reporter to whom the story was leaked. In fact, the league still hasn't made an official announcement regarding the situation.

And that's wrong.

The Steelers have less than two weeks to prepare for the regular season. And they don't know if they'll actually have one of the most dynamic playmakers in the game in the lineup or not.

* Jordan Berry likely won the punting job in this game. Other than that, there weren't a lot of stellar performances.

Berry won the job not only by averaging 58.3 yards on his four punts - including a boomer from his own end zone that went 78 (!) yards, but by kicking off after Garrett Hartley went down with an injury.

The injury to Hartley, by the way, looks serious. There's a good chance the Steelers will be in the market for their third kicker.

* The troubles with the defense in the passing game can be expected with the team still trying to adjust to the Cover-2 concepts.

Vince Williams is a big hitter, but he was exposed in coverage on the 67-yard TD pass to Charles Clay in the first quarter. He didn't get enough depth and let Clay go right by him.

Here's guessing Timmons doesn't make that mistake. Then again, you never know because we haven't see the first-team defense on the field a whole lot together in training camp or the preseason.

* Mike Vick said he had about 60 plays on his wristband for this game but he gave offensive coordinator Todd Haley 15 to 20 that he was comfortable running.

Vick looked better than could be expected for being with the team for less than a week, completing 4-of-5 passes for 106 yards.

"I didn’t try to cram everything in, but I’m anxious to watch the tape and learn from it," Vick said. "There’s a lot of things I can do better, from the sack that I took to the play down by the goal line, the pass to Martavis. I think we got a penalty. We’ve just got to keep working."


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