- Mike Rodak, ESPN Staff Writer
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Did Marrone make right call to punt? After Sunday's game, Bills coach Doug Marrone said he chose to punt from the Steelers' 36-yard line early in the fourth quarter because he wanted to "play the field position." But with the Bills down 14 points, it's hard not to question that decision. The Bills' offense did nothing to inspire confidence that it could convert on fourth-and-5, but even with good position in the first quarter, it struggled in the red zone. That should have given Marrone an even greater sense of urgency to try to convert, even with 14 minutes left.
Points perspective: The 23 points allowed by the Bills' defense in this game was actually lower than its season average, which is now at 25.9. Of course, the Steelers played with a lead and turned to their running game to burn the clock, but it was hardly an offensive explosion from either team in Pittsburgh. When an opponent's top rusher -- in this case, Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell -- averages 2.6 yards per carry and has no runs for more than 9 yards, you wouldn't expect the sort of one-sided game we saw Sunday.
Pass rush a positive: Despite the loss, the Bills sacked Ben Roethlisberger four times and intercepted him once. Similar to the Bills' successes in defending the run, you wouldn't think Buffalo would put as much pressure on a quarterback, stay even in the turnover battle, and still be staring at a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit. It's the kind of outcome that overshadows a two-sack game from Jerry Hughes, who now has six sacks this season, a career high. The Bills have to be happy with their offseason trade that sent Kelvin Sheppard to Indianapolis for Hughes.
Offside penalty stings: Defensive lineman Marcell Dareus was called for encroachment on a third-quarter Steelers field goal attempt, giving Pittsburgh a first down it turned into a touchdown. It wasn't a clear-cut call against Dareus; it looked like other Bills might have jumped, or even possibly some members of the Steelers. "I couldn't see it. They didn't show it afterwards," Marrone said. "The officials were there, they know everything that goes on, and you just have to go with what they say. That's a four-point swing there, from three points where they have to kick the field goal and [instead] wound up getting the touchdown."