NFL Nation: 2013 Week 10 BUF at PIT Rapid Reaction

Rapid Reaction: Buffalo Bills

November, 10, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- A few thoughts on the Buffalo Bills' 23-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers:

What it means: This was as bad as the Bills have been all season. Going against a Steelers defense that allowed 55 points last week, the Bills mustered only a field goal -- itself the result of a first-quarter interception -- through the first 59 minutes of the game. The Bills and Steelers were even in turnovers -- each team had one -- but Buffalo punted nine times and was 3-for-14 on third down.

Manuel's rough day: After missing four games with a knee injury, EJ Manuel returned Sunday and put up his worst performance of the season. He finished 22-for-39 for 155 yards and one touchdown, not cracking 100 yards passing until the final drive of the game. Manuel was sacked three times, but pressure was hardly the story; it was accuracy and decision-making. He was intercepted once and came close to being picked off at least once more.

Stock watch: Falling: Punter Brian Moorman. Signed to replace Shawn Powell, who struggled in five games to start the season, Moorman had a tough afternoon. While wind was a factor, Moorman seemed to struggle no matter which direction he was punting. He had two touchbacks and added another line-drive punt that was returned 24 yards in the third quarter. The Bills entered Sunday averaging 37.3 net yards per punt, fourth-worst in the NFL.

Johnson leaves game: Wide receiver Steve Johnson left the game in the fourth quarter with a groin injury. It's unclear whether it's the same injury that Johnson suffered two weeks ago in a loss to the Saints. Johnson finished with three catches for 48 yards.

What's next: The Bills drop to 3-7 and remain in fourth place in the AFC East. They return home to host the New York Jets next Sunday, their final game before the bye week. At this point, the Bills' chances of making the playoffs are slim.

Rapid Reaction: Pittsburgh Steelers

November, 10, 2013
PITTSBURGH -- A few observations from the Pittsburgh Steelers' 23-10 victory against the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field:

What it means: The Steelers kept their season from spiraling out of control by beating up on the Bills in a stadium that had more than a few empty seats. As cathartic as the victory proved to be a week after the Steelers were humiliated in New England, there isn’t anything to suggest it is anything more than a Band-Aid. The Bills (3-7) were awful, and the Steelers (3-6) need to string at least three victories together before there can be any talk of them as plausible playoff contenders, as mediocre as the AFC North and the conference is.

Stock watch: Yes, the Steelers weren’t exactly facing Jim Kelly and the K-Gun offense, but the defense needed to play well in the worst way, and it did for the most part during a cold, drab day at Heinz Field. The Steelers used a familiar formula -- stopping the run and not letting a young quarterback beat them -- a week after arguably the worst defensive performance in franchise history. C.J. Spiller never got out of neutral, and the Bills were just 3-of-14 on third-down conversions. The Steelers improved to 17-2 against rookie quarterbacks since 2004, the year Dick LeBeau returned for a second stint as the team’s defensive coordinator.

Walking wounded: It wouldn’t be a Steelers game without an injury sustained by at least one of the offensive linemen. Left guard Ramon Foster left the game with an ankle injury early in the third quarter and did not return to the game. Starting outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (calf) and reserve safety Shamarko Thomas (ankle) also left the game with injuries.

Hardly a clinic: Somewhere Drew Butler is laughing. Zoltan Mesko, too. The punters ushered out of Pittsburgh by coach Mike Tomlin probably couldn’t have done worse than Mat McBriar in his first two games with the Steelers. McBriar, signed after Pittsburgh waived Mesko two weeks ago, had punts of 27 and 36 yards in the first quarter and was a major reason the Steelers were unable to flip the field.

No regrets: The Steelers were reminded that it could be worse when it comes to their punting situation. Brian Moorman couldn’t beat out Butler in training camp -- Butler was later dumped for Mesko -- and he didn’t do much of anything for Buffalo against the Steelers. Moorman nearly kicked a ball into the stands when the Bills were hoping they could down a punt deep inside Steelers territory. He later kicked a low line drive that Antonio Brown returned 24 yards and led a 4-yard touchdown run by Le'Veon Bell.

Next up: The Steelers and their defense face what should be a considerably sterner test next Sunday when the Detroit Lions visit Heinz Feld for a 1 p.m. ET game. Matthew Stafford is the kind of passer who can carve up the Steelers’ secondary if he gets time in the pocket. Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, meanwhile, is a bigger matchup problem than polka dots and stripes.



Thursday, 10/16
Sunday, 10/19
Monday, 10/20