STEELERS-BILLS MATCHUP WINNERS
Ben Roethlisberger vs. Tyrod Taylor
Even though the Steelers’ superstar threw three interceptions, he still outplayed the Bills’ quarterback. Roethlisberger is one of the great downfield passers in the NFL, with Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Arizona’s Carson Palmer. He showed it on the 40-yard pass to Antonio Brown, put over the outside shoulder and impossible to defend. Taylor showed bad anticipation on numerous plays. He got sacked at his own 11 on the second drive when he didn’t pull the trigger and dump to an open LeSean McCoy. On a third-and-4 play late in the third quarter, the Steelers rushed three. The pocket was clean. Taylor sensed phantom pressure, bolted the pocket and threw incomplete for Charles Clay. Down 21-7 early in the fourth quarter, Taylor misread Marquise Goodwin’s route, and his sideline throw was picked off. It would have been nice if Taylor targeted Sammy Watkins more than six times.
David DeCastro vs. Richie Incognito
DeCastro and Incognito are two of the top five pulling guards in the NFL. Both are devastating on the move and nimble on their feet. DeCastro got to showcase his mobility far more than Incognito in helping pave the way for Le’Veon Bell’s 236 rushing yards.
DeCastro pulled and blocked Lorenzo Alexander on Bell’s first TD. He pulled and blocked Brandon Spikes on Bell’s third TD. He pulled and took out Alexander on a pretty toss sweep for 14 yards in the fourth quarter. The Steelers had the Bills attacking gaps on counter runs. Then when the Steelers used straight-ahead zone plays, the Bills’ linebackers were too close to the line and couldn’t catch Bell when he bounced to the weak side.
“You set a franchise record in a snow game in December? C’mon,” DeCastro said. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Ryan Shazier vs. LeSean McCoy
Shazier is one of the Steelers’ young stars and another of their home-run draft picks. The third-year inside linebacker from Ohio State ran a 4.38 time in the 40-yard dash before being drafted 15th overall in 2014. That’s as fast as former Bills speed receiver Lee Evans. Shazier was all over the field vs. the Bills, making a team-high eight tackles and a sack.
In the first quarter, he blew up a power run by McCoy to force a 1-yard loss. He ruined the next Bills drive with a sack of Tyrod Taylor, who was slow to pull the trigger. On the next drive, he defeated Jerome Felton’s lead block and tripped up McCoy for a 1-yard gain. Two drives later he got held by John Miller while covering McCoy. In the fourth quarter, he was spying on Taylor and chased him for a 1-yard gain.