The Pittsburgh Steelers are not hoping to see Josh Allen beyond the line of scrimmage in Sunday’s season opener, and have issued a warning to the Buffalo Bills quarterback about the consequences if he decides to take off out of the pocket.
After having lost the last two matchups against Buffalo, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler opened up about the gameplan against the Bills and how he plans to stop Allen — which includes something of a threat to the MVP candidate.
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Steelers Looking to Keep Allen From Rushing
As the Steelers prepared for Sunday’s game against the Bills, Butler was asked about the danger Allen poses on the ground. Allen has been one of the league’s best rushing quarterbacks since he entered the league in 2018, with 1,562 total yards on the ground and 25 rushing touchdowns through those three seasons. Allen has also had a tendency to finish his runs hard, not shying away from contact if it means gaining a few extra yards.
Butler warned that if he tries to do that against the Steelers, Allen could find himself in trouble.
“I hope he does try to finish his runs like a running back. We’ll treat him like a running back. If he wants to be treated like a running back, we’ll do that, too,” Butler said, via Tim Benz of the Tribune-Review.
Butler said that Allen’s style reminds him of Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who eventually phased much of the running out of his game in order to stay in the relative safety of the pocket.
“And you don’t see Ben run as much as you used to, do you?” Butler asked. “That’s an important position. And if you are going to run the ball, that ball attracts a lot of attention in the National Football League. There is usually a price to pay. So we’ll see what happens in the game.
Steelers Share Respect for Allen
The Steelers have had mixed results against Allen in the past two meetings between the teams. Allen threw for 238 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in Buffalo’s 26-15 win over the Steelers last season, with the Bills quarterback adding another 28 rushing yards on six carries.
Allen struggled a bit more in the 2019 matchup, throwing for just 139 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the 17-10 win in 2019, a game that clinched a playoff berth for the Bills. Allen did more damage on the ground this game, carrying the ball seven times for 28 yards including a one-yard touchdown run to open the scoring.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said earlier this week that the team is well aware of the many ways Allen can attack a defense.
“His arm talent is exceptional,” Tomlin said, via the Tribune-Review. “His mobility, particularly for a guy of his size and strength, is exceptional. He got out of the pocket and really created issues for us a year ago, but he does that virtually week in and week out. His mobility, his ability to extend plays is a significant component of his game and their game. They spread you out and challenge you in those ways, highlighting that element of his game.”