Many expected the Buffalo Bills to take care of business at home versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season. The Steelers had other plans as they were able to take down the Bills, 23-16, beating a team that many have representing the AFC in the Super Bowl this year. It was a quiet showing from Josh Allen and Buffalo’s high-octane offense to begin the season.
While the offense of the Steelers wasn’t extremely productive either, they did enough to secure the victory on the road. Most of the credit should go to Pittsburgh’s defense as they held Allen and co. in check for the entire game.
Upon watching the showdown between the Steelers and the Bills, here are three takeaways from the surprising performance from Buffalo.
Where Were The Explosive Plays For The Bills?
What makes the Bills such a dangerous team on offense is their ability to create big plays down the field. Besides Stefon Diggs, Buffalo has Cole Beasley, Gabriel Davis, and Emmanuel Sanders to target through the air. While chunk plays are the Bills’ bread and butter, Allen averaged only 5.3 yards per attempt in Week 1.
A season ago, Buffalo had one of the best offenses in the NFL in large part due to being able to drive down the field with ease through the air. But on Sunday — credit to Pittsburgh’s defense — the Bills were never able to get into much of a rhythm in the passing game. Buffalo will look to bounce back in Week 2 versus the Miami Dolphins.
We’d Feel Differently About The Steelers If They Had A Better Quarterback
It was undoubtedly an impressive win for the Steelers on the road against one of the premier teams in the AFC. The defense shut down a high-flying offense, limiting them to only 16 points. While the defense looks like a stout group, there is no doubt we’d all feel differently about Pittsburgh if they had a better quarterback than Ben Roethlisberger right now.
Roethlisberger looks like he’s out of gas as he completed 18 of his 32 attempts for 188 yards and one touchdown in Week 1. The veteran signal-caller is unable to push the ball down the field like he once could and he’s constantly flirting with mistakes at this point in his career. There’s a chance that we would view the Steelers as a legitimate contender in the AFC if they made an upgrade at quarterback this past offseason, especially after beating the Bills on the road to begin the season.
Not Many Running Lanes For Najee Harris
One area that the Steelers are expected to grow in this season is their running game. Instead of addressing other needs on the roster, Pittsburgh took Najee Harris in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Harris carried a heavy workload in Week 1 as he touched the ball 17 times for a total of 49 yards. Given the lack of manpower they have on the offensive line, the Steelers didn’t have many running lanes for Harris.
Harris is a talented running back, but not many guys can overcome a porous offensive line. Roethlisberger can get the ball out quickly to mitigate the pressure of opposing defenses. However, Harris averaged only 2.8 yards per attempt on Sunday. Furthermore, he had an 18-yard run, meaning that he averaged a mere 1.8 yards per attempt on his other 15 carries.
There are going to be weeks where Harris runs rampant, but some people may need to scale their expectations back for Harris this season.