PITTSBURGH -- The first-team offense ran the no-huddle attack almost exclusively in a 19-16 win over the Buffalo Bills, and coach Mike Tomlin couldn’t have asked for much better results.
The Steelers scored a pair of touchdowns in their first three possessions and averaged 9.6 per play with Ben Roethlisberger playing quarterback.
They also converted three out of four third down. The only time they punted with the starters in the game came was when tight end Heath Miller's 9-yard reception fell short by less than a yard short for a first down.
“It was a good start to the no-huddle,” said Roethlisberger, who completed 8 of 11 passes for 128 yards and a pair of touchdowns while playing a little more than a quarter. “The communication was what I wanted to work on, and we didn’t have mental errors of what I saw so far.”
Indeed, the Steelers did not commit any penalties with their offensive starters on the field, and the line kept Roethlisberger off the ground. It also allowed the veteran quartebrack time to wait on a perfectly executed double move by wide receiver Markus Wheaton and throw a 16-yard touchdown pass that gave the Steelers an early 13-3 lead.
“We wanted to get Ben some quality work, particularly in no-huddle in the comforts of Heinz Field,” Tomlin said.
Here are some leftovers from the second preseason game:
It could be a good omen. Or it could mean nothing with two games left on the preseason schedule. But the Steelers have stayed relatively clean from an injury standpoint. The most significant injury is a meniscus tear to long snapper Greg Warren. The only injury of note in their win over the Bills was a shoulder dislocation suffered by guard Bryant Browning. “Don’t anticipate anybody else having any type of injury that would prevent them from playing in Philadelphia,” Tomlin said. That doesn’t include cornerbacks Shaquille Richardson and Devin Smith, each of whom sustained undisclosed injuries last Friday and did not play against the Bills.
The Bills rushed for 150 yards, and their success on the ground allowed them to put together extended drives against the Steelers’ first-team defense and control the clock. “Too many missed tackles, particularly in the early stages,” Tomlin said. “We had them in the backfield and the line of scrimmage, and they were squirting through and able to stay on schedule. They weren’t necessarily big runs, but if you can get them in second and 12s, it changes the whole complexion of the series. Those missed tackles didn’t allow us to do that.”
Three of Shaun Suisham’s four kickoffs were returned, and that was by Tomlin’s design. “The only way you get to know some of these kick coverage guys is to put balls in play,” the eighth-year coach said. “Shaun could put the through the back of the end zone like some of these people we’re playing, but we want to see what our kickoff coverage teams are capable of because we’re going to get into the season, and I’d rather know now than then.”