Sunday’s performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers is likely one that the Buffalo Bills offensive line would like to forget, but it appears that head coach Sean McDermott won’t let them.
The Bills coach was highly critical of the line’s play after the Steelers harassed and battered Josh Allen en route to a 23-16 victory. Buffalo’s offensive linemen struggled to keep pass rushers out of the backfield and racked up a number of holding penalties, stymying a Bills offense that was already struggling to move the ball.
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McDermott Calls Out OL Play
In remarks after the game, McDermott told reporters that the holding penalties were “unacceptable.” The Steelers were able to maintain pressure on Allen without having to rely on the blitz, as McDermott noted that they often got effective pressure with four or even three down linemen.
“Getting into a rhyme is one thing, establishing the line of scrimmage is another thing,” McDermott said via press conference.
“That’s where you’re beating yourself. We were beating ourselves with holding penalties. We had eight, I think eight penalties, and a lot of those were holds, offensively. We can do a better job.”
Buffalo’s offensive linemen likely didn’t need McDermott to tell them how much they struggled. After the game, center Mitch Morse said the team didn’t do a good enough job of protecting their quarterback. The line allowed eight hits on Allen and three sacks, including a forced fumble.
“I think it’s a great gut check, right?” Morse said, via Katherine Fitzgerald of the Buffalo News. “Very frustrating, but we also know this a great opportunity to learn quite a bit, and intrinsically look into what you can do to keep Josh cleaner, get the guys in the backfield better lanes to run, and go from there.”
Mistakes Key Loss to Steelers
The Bills were sloppy in all phases of the game, with the special teams surrendering a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown and Tre’Davious White being called for a holding penalty that wiped out what could have been a game-turning interception.
After the game, safety Micah Hyde said the team wouldn’t be able to win while making that many mistakes.
“If we want to take the next step, we can’t let that stuff happen,” he said after the game, via The Athletic’s Joe Buscaglia.
Allen also pointed to himself, saying that he needed to be sharper to beat a team like Pittsburgh. Allen finished the day completing 30 of 51 passes for 270 yards with one touchdown pass, but missed out on at least one other by overthrowing receiver Emmanuel Sanders on a deep route. Allen struggled on many of his deeper passes.
“Whether it be first-game nerves or jitters, or feeling stuff with my feet, but I’ve got to play better,” Allen said, via ESPN. “We’re not going to panic. It’s 16 games left.”
The Bills will have an immediate chance to bounce back, traveling to Miami to play the only team from the AFC East to win on Sunday. The Bills have been 7-1 against the Dolphins since McDermott took over as head coach in 2017.