Stillers-Bills: Who can minimize mistakes?
After what seems like an eternity off, the Stillers are ready to hop back in the saddle against Buffalo this weekend. I'm glad to get back to Stiller football after all that has happened. Although it puts things in a new perspective, the desire for Black 'n Gold football is running through my veins.
Unfortunately, we get back to football after a dismal week one performance mated with a mini-offseason between games. Although the draw is favorable with the 0-2 Bills, fans are facing a battle of the statistical lowly...
- Pittsburgh offense - 4.9 yards/pass attempt and 4.4 yards/attempt vs. Buffalo defense - 10.5 yards/attempt
[Buffalo was more stingy against New Orleans at home though, giving up 4.5 yards/attempt.]
- Rob Johnson's 4 interceptions vs. a Stillers pass defense that resembled swiss cheese in week one.
- Stillers 4 turnovers (5 fumbles, 2 lost + 2 INT's) vs. Bills 4 turnovers (all Johnson's).
- Stillers extended streak of 7 losses in Buffalo vs. the Bills losing 6 of the last 8 against Pittsburgh.
There are plenty of questions marks to go around for both teams. The key for both will be minimizing mistakes -- especially early. Both teams cannot afford costly turnovers or mistakes during the opening quarter. If the Bills go up 14-0 early, it's lights out for the less-than-explosive Stillers. On the other hand, if the Stillers go up by 10 to 14 points early, the rust-factor is eliminated and the Bills will be a world of hurt.
The Stillers must avoid mental mistakes. More than turnovers, mental mistakes like pre-snap penalties and offensive holding could be the dagger in the heart of the Stillers this weekend. If these can be avoided, the team wins, but if not, the offensive wagon wheel will fall right back in its rut and another single-digit game will result....and that won't cut the mustard.
To help themselves, the Stillers need to get after it early on defense. Pressure Rob Johnson into turnovers by unleashing the hounds. Going conservative early and often will be inadequate in Buffalo. On offense, the team needs to get in a rhythm early. Even if they don't score, they must at least move the chains some and get a number of people involved. Why not get Famous Amos the first touch on O? He could be a huge catalyst early! (although it's against policy to use him effectively until the 4th quarter of a game that is out of reach or well in hand) By spreading the ball around, the team can accomplish two things: shake the rust more quickly and keep the Bills defense honest.
Expectations should be low for this game....it's going to be sloppy and the victor will be the team that self-destructs less. Despite the slop, I'll still be back in my glory watching Stiller football again! Look for Pittsburgh to get back in the AFC Central hunt with a 16-13 victory.