Analyzing the Steelers preseason win over Bills, by the numbers
The Pittsburgh Steelers had their second of three contests in preparation for the 2023 season by exiting Acrisure Stadium with a 27–15 victory over the Buccaneers in Week 2 of the preseason. After putting forth a quality performance in Week 1, the Steelers found a way for the first team to improve with their second opportunity against a quality opponent.
So without further ado, here are some of the numbers involved in the Steelers preseason win over the Bills.
Steelers got the job done in the takeaway department while controlling the damage when it came to turnovers. The Steelers kept their turnovers to only one in the game thanks to a Kendrick Green snap before the offense was ready in what may have been an attempt to catch the Bills in the neutral zone. Either way, the turnover set the bills up just shy of the goal line where they scored one play later. But the Steelers defense did their part and taking the ball away with three interceptions as well as a fumble recovery on a Nick Herbig strip sack.
In a game where there was plenty of laundry on the field from the officials, the Steelers managed to only have four accepted penalties called against them. Of the four penalties, two came on special teams while two were charged to the offense. When comparing the Steelers penalties to the Bills, they were nine to the better as Buffalo was called for 13 penalties in the game which were accepted.
For the second-straight game, the Steelers put up 27 points against their opponent, a total they reached only twice in 2022 during the regular season. Additionally, the Steelers once again put up all their points in the first three quarters of the game.
Speaking of points through the first three quarters, the Steelers defense kept the Buffalo Bills off the scoreboard through the first 45 minutes of the game. Even though the Bills were in the red zone and preparing the score in the first half, an interception by Elijah Riley on a ball deflected by Cole Holcomb helped preserve the first-half shutout which carried through the third quarter.
The Steelers converted almost half of their third downs on Saturday night going to 7 for 15. During the first half, the Steelers had a 57% conversion rate converting 4 of 7 third downs where in the second half they only converted 3 of 8 for 38% which just so happened to be the Bills conversion rate for the entire game.
On the sixth offensive play of the game, Jaylen Warren took the handoff through the left side of the Steelers offensive line and broke it for a 62-yard touchdown run. Just over half the Steelers rushing yards came on this play as they finished the game with 121 rushing yards on 33 attempts for a 3.7 yards per carry average. It should be noted this amount also includes two kneel downs for -2 yards to finish the game.
Although the Steelers were getting pressure on the Bills quarterbacks and they were not simply given a lot of time in the pocket, the Steelers only finished with one sack by Nick Herbig which resulted in a turnover. Although Josh Allen was tackled behind the line of scrimmage by Alex Highsmith, it was on a play where he scrambled and crossed the line of scrimmage only to retreat and then be tackled.
After the Steelers starting defense forced the three and out on the Bills first possession, Calvin Austin took his first opportunity for an NFL punt return and ran it 54 yards to the Bills 25-yard line…
After the punt return of Calvin Austin, the Steelers needed only one play to score their second touchdown of the game. Kenny Pickett hit Pat Freiermuth for the 25-yard gain over the middle on a great pass to finish off the first team offense’s performance on Saturday night.
The Steelers also got quality play from the special teams on Saturday night. Pressley Harvin had his first punts of the preseason and all five were downed inside the 20-yard line. Although his punting average was only 38.2 yards, it was because his first four punts were on a short field. When given more room to punt, Harvin had a 52-yard punt that also brought a hang time enough to allow only a 2-yard return, the only yardage gained on any of the punt returns by the Bills in the game.
The Steelers are now two games down for their preseason and, despite being 2-0, the record is not nearly as important as their play on the field. In addition, the Steelers managed to leave their second preseason performance with zero injuries which may be the most important number of them all.
So there are some numbers to help put the Steelers Week 2 preseason win in perspective. The Steelers’ first units got a little more playing time and took care of business in the time they had.
So what numbers from Saturday night’s preseason game stand out to you? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.