Coming off of a turnover-plagued performance in Green Bay, Buffalo's offense was determined to do better in Pittsburgh against a defense with a similar pressure scheme. Unfortunately their performance against a 3-4 pressure front again left a lot to be desired staking the Steelers to a 17-0 halftime lead, which wound up being the final score in a Pittsburgh victory.
"There wasn't a whole lot good to say about that," said head coach Dick Jauron. "Really we didn't do anything on offense."
"Our side we didn't get the job done," said Trent Edwards. "We didn't get the ball past the stakes, converting on third downs. One turnover and it is frustrating, but the thing is that we do have a lot to learn and I feel like we have players that are coachable and that are willing to learn and that are still fighting."
On their first offensive possession the Bills were sent three-and-out after a third down throw from Edwards to Roscoe Parrish was batted down incomplete by Pittsburgh cornerback Deshea Townsend.
Their second drive went a bit longer as the offensive line busted open a good hole on the right side to spring Marshawn Lynch for a 16-yard run and a first down. But three plays later Edwards and Parrish again could not connect on a 3rd-and-4 and the Bills again had to punt sitting at their own 36.
Their third possession was even shorter as the pocket was squeezed by Pittsburgh on a 1st-and-10 pass play hurrying Edwards. He threw a quick underneath pass intended for Josh Reed, but James Farrior was waiting and pulled in the throw returning it 22 yards for a touchdown.
"It's frustrating," said Reed. "We feel like we're much better than we showed (Saturday). There are a lot of things that we didn't improve on. Coach said after the game that we've just got to (improve). It's still the preseason, but you still want to come out and give it a better effort than we felt like we gave (Saturday)."
Buffalo's offense would be forced to punt two more times with their last possession of the first half ending when the half expired.
Little changed for Buffalo's offense in the second half. Despite being staked to their best drive start of the game at their own 30, Buffalo went three-and-out.
When asked if he was worried about the lack of offensive punch this preseason Jauron admitted he was concerned.
"Yeah, oh definitely," said Jauron. "I don't think you every stop worrying. Yeah we're definitely worried. We've got to make a lot of improvement and we don't have a lot of time to do it."
"There is area for concern and there's plenty of things we need to fix here pretty quickly, but I feel we have a good group of guys," said Edwards. "Guys that want to go in the right direction and that's the bottom line."
The first team offense thus far this preseason has had 15 possessions not counting Saturday's possession that lasted two plays at the end of the first half. They have a field goal to show for their efforts with five turnovers and nine punts.
Their drives have crossed midfield just three times. And they have been outscored by the defensive units they've faced 7-3 after Pittsburgh's interception return Saturday.
"The issue is we've just got to execute better and we've got to do a better job," said Jauron. "I've got to prepare them better because we're not giving ourselves a chance. In consecutive games we've put up points for the opponent. We knew going in that this was the best defense in football by a long shot. We knew it would be a challenge, and we certainly didn't step up to that challenge."
Trent Edwards has been in the middle of the offensive struggles. For the preseason he is 26-38 passing for 189 yards and three interceptions with a passer rating of 47.
On Saturday against Pittsburgh he was 6-13 for 31 yards and an interception for a passer rating of 21.
"We've made plenty of mistakes. I'll be the first to admit that I've made my fair share," said Edwards. "I feel like it was just one of those games when there was time to throw I was either inaccurate or I wasn't throwing the ball where it needed to go. Or I wasn't expecting guys to be where they were, or making a stupid penalty or turning the ball over."
The Bills quarterback looked downfield, but did not fire deep. Lee Evans was targeted once in the game.
Defense plays wellThe news was more encouraging for Buffalo's defense. Kyle Williams forced a fumble on Pittsburgh's first possession when he stripped Rashard Mendenhall on a 1st-and-10 at the Bills 21-yard line to stop a potential scoring drive as Keith Ellison recovered.
On the Steelers' next possession they sent the Steelers three-and-out, with Ryan Denney, Williams and Kawika Mitchell combined for a pair of stops for no gain. On the ensuing 3rd-and-10 Mitchell then stopped Heath Miller short of a first down to force another punt.
"We were doing a great job on first and second down and we had a couple of third downs stops, but really we had guys competing for the ball and they just made good catches," said Mitchell. "Hines (Ward) caught a couple of catches in there for a third down and guys are right on top of them and it's a matter of who's going to make a play."
Mitchell had a strong night with eight tackles while Paul Posluszny chipped in seven including a tackle for loss. Keith Ellison had six tackles in a half of work along with a fumble recovery. Leodis McKelvin was targeted by Ben Roethlisberger, but had five tackles and a pass breakup.
"I thought our defense played hard," said Jauron. "I give our defense credit for just hanging in there. We've got a lot of issues that we've got to solve and we've got to solve them very quickly."
Pittsburgh did put a long 13-play drive together that bridged the first and second quarters, but the first team defense held them to a field goal. That was followed by a four-and-out before the defense finally surrendered a touchdown drive at the end of the half.
The starting defensive unit however, had been on the field for almost 22 of the 30 minutes of the first half as Buffalo's offense could not sustain drives.
"We've got to make sure we're not throwing our defense out there for 35 minutes out of the game," said Edwards. "We left our defense on the field too long. I thought our defense played very well. I felt like they stopped them and holding them to 17 points is pretty impressive."
Buffalo has just one more preseason game to get themselves righted for the regular season, but starters rarely play much in the preseason finale. The Bills host the Detroit Lions on Thursday for a 6:30 pm kickoff.