Here are how my five takes before the Buffalo Bills' 27-20 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday worked out:
1. Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams must be dominant in the middle of the defense. Not even close.
First, Williams was inactive because of a back issue that was revealed on Friday. After the game, Dareus declined to talk with reporters, citing that he was "hurtin'." He proceeded to limp out of the dressing room.
It was understandable, given that the Steelers' offensive line consistently knocked Dareus and the rest of the Bills' defensive front off the ball all day as Le'Veon Bell ran for 236 yards (the most ever by one player against the Bills) and three touchdowns. Bell's final score was a walk-in from five yards.
It was one of the Bills' all-time worst defensive performances against the run.
2. The secondary has to play well for an entire game. Check.
It's hard to say the Bills' secondary played poorly on a day when Ben Roethlisberger threw three interceptions and finished with a passer rating of 37.8. Of course, none of that mattered, considering the ease with which the Steelers ran the ball.
Still, it's an accomplishment when Antonio Brown, one of the top receivers in the league, is limited to five receptions for 78 yards and no touchdowns. Stephon Gilmore, who had one of the interceptions, took particular pride in that. He made a point of mentioning after the game that Brown said he didn't know Gilmore's name.
3. The pass rush needs to get home. Nope.
Roethlisberger wasn't sacked and the Bills were credited with only one quarterback hit, by outside linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who also had an interception.
The Bills failed to generate any noteworthy pressure on Roethlisberger. His interceptions and off-target throws had virtually nothing to do with being hurried and more the result of his confidence that he could get away letting even risky passes go because the turnovers wouldn't come back to bite him.
4. LeSean McCoy has to carry the offense once again. Not even close.
McCoy finished with 27 yards on 12 carries, an average of 2.3 yards per rush. He did have a late scoring run, but by then the outcome was determined.
Almost a third of the Bills' 67 total rushing yards came on a 22-yard run by Mike Gillislee in garbage time.
This was a terrible showing by what is supposed to be the Bills' strength against an injury depleted Steelers' defensive front.
5. Tyrod Taylor can't have another meltdown. Nope.
Never mind the two touchdown passes for the 100.1 passer rating. Taylor had a bad game, punctuated by a terrible throw that led to an interception.
He played poorly enough that he might very well be benched for next Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns.
Taylor has been on a severe downward spiral since the start of the second quarter of the Bills' loss at Oakland last Sunday. He continues to react to more perceived than actual pressure, bailing out of the pocket quickly and frequently panicking. He is not reading the field well and is either off-target or checking down rather than looking for the deep throw.