As Ryan Fitzpatrick’s pass slipped through the outstretched palms of Stevie Johnson, the air in Ralph Wilson Stadium got sucked down with it. However, there was no one play to put the onus on today. Both teams made mistakes, with Johnson’s near-catch merely culminating a game full of errors.
To say “If only we could’ve made that catch…” wouldn’t be fair to Stevie. Johnson did have a rough outing today, with four drops by my count. He tipped up a ball into the diving arms of Troy Polamalu with under three minutes to play. We also wouldn’t have come even close to almost beating the now 8-3 Steelers without Stevie’s 7 catches for 68 yards. He made some crucial grabs to move the chains against a very good defense.
Like I said, if you want to play the blame game, there is plenty to go around. Even our fans, presumably selling or giving away their tickets to throngs of the Steelers faithful, helped enable the Steelers today. This felt like an away game at times!
Lee Evans had a drive-killing fumble, but also made a great heads-up play in recovering Fred Jackson’s red-zone fumble.
Chris Kelsay completely whiffed on Ben Roethlisberger on his 3 and 16 scamper (not a first), but he also nearly took the ball away from Big Ben in overtime when he chopped him down from behind on the goal-line.
Leodis McKelvin gave Bills fans cardiac arrest by fumbling away a punt return in the overtime, only to have Drayton Florence some how come out of the pile up with the pigskin.
The Steelers made their share as well. Rashard Mendenhall wasn’t protecting the football with two arms in traffic when Jairus Byrd tore the ball out of his arms.
Emmanuel Sanders, who I viewed as sure-handed coming out of SMU this year, dropped a 3rd-down pass in the 4th quarter that most likely would’ve gone for six. Pittsburgh had to settle for a field goal, allowing the Bills to only trail by three.
Surprisingly though, in a game like this, both kickers were money. Rian Lindell was 3-3, while notoriously non-clutch kicker Shaun Suisham hit 4 for 4, including the 41-yarder in overtime.
The Bills should be applauded for their effort against the vaunted Pittsburgh Steelers defense. I had nightmares last night thinking about LaMarr Woodley lining up across from Mansfield Wrotto. I figured we would be have Jonathan Stupar on the line all day chipping him. However, the Bills stayed true to form, maintaining their spread attack and relying heavily on Fred Jackson and Corey McIntyre blocking in the backfield. They both did a tremendous job today keeping Ryan clean.
This is a tough one to swallow and I’ll probably be sick to my stomach and heartbroken until next Sunday, but we should still be proud of the effort of our guys. I know I am.