March 4, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Labriola on loss to Bills

Labriola on loss to Bills

Over the course of the three-game winning streak at the end of the regular season that propelled them into the playoffs, it became their identity. Or if you will, this has become their formula for winning, a recipe that, if followed, will lead to the desired result. On Monday night in Buffalo, the Steelers learned what happens when they don't, or can't, follow the recipe.

This recipe started with a healthy dose of the physical running game combined with a timely and aggressive passing attack as well as no turnovers on offense which created points and a significant advantage in time of possession to allow margin for error for a defense that was soft. He is at No. 1 after a series of injuries at both inside linebacker and safety.

The Bills ended the Steelers' stay in the playoffs with a win in a Wild Card Round game that was delayed about 27 hours from 1pm Sunday to 4:30pm Monday due to weather severe enough for New York Governor Kathy Hochul to declare a state of emergency and issue a complete travel ban for Erie County Starting Saturday night.

More than three hours after the celebrations began for Buffalo's win with the coin toss and the postponement pick, the Steelers' first half of football featured a 58-yard rush, a 5-minute deficit in the time of possession after an amended 1-for-5 conversion on third downs, and two turnovers, all of which led to A 21-7 deficit that became a final 34-17. The offense did none of the things that created their three-game winning streak, and Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen was free to work on a defense weakened by the absence of the NFL's sack leader who should be a defensive player. Year TJ Watt.

The Steelers' first six offensive streaks were over: punt, punt, fumble, punt, interception, punt. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren were trapped by a Bills defensive alignment that committed an eighth player in the box to prevent the Steelers' running game from creating any downside momentum. When other teams came to the same conclusion, the Steelers took advantage of Mason Rudolph throwing the ball down the field to George Pickens, Diontae Johnson, and Pat Freiermuth.

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During the first half of regular season wins over Cincinnati, Seattle and Baltimore, the offense had passes of 86, 44, 37, 25, 23, 23 and 23 yards and 48 points; In the first half in Buffalo there was only one catch — a 33-yard completion to Freiermuth — and it came on the possession that ended with Bills cornerback Kyre Elam intercepting a Rudolph pass to Johnson in the end zone.

Rudolph completed a 10-yard touchdown pass to Johnson with 1:39 remaining in the second quarter, but by then Allen had done serious damage.

On Buffalo's opening possession, Allen flexed his muscles for a first down converting a third-and-1 from the Bills' 29-yard line to keep the punter on the sideline and then completed 5 of 5 for 56 yards and a 9-yard touchdown. . The Bills had 4 plays of 10+ yards and ate 5:33 off the game clock. 7-0.

After exchanging punts, the offense committed turnover No. 1 when Pickens lost a fumble at the end of an 8-yard catch. Linebacker Terrel Bernard recovered at the Steelers 29-yard line. On the next play, Allen put the ball in the end zone with a perfect 29-yard throw to tight end Dalton Kincaid on a play that screamed miscommunication because there was no way inside linebacker Myles Jack could have been in man coverage for a 73-catch tight end in the middle of the field. . 14-0.

Yes, Rudolph could have made a better throw, and yes, even then, Elam should still make a great play on the ball, but none of that probably would have been necessary if the running game had been better than 1-Warren gaining 1 yard and Harris losing 1 yards on two attempts inside the 13-yard line. Don't forget that Harris (4) and Warren (1) combined for five rushing touchdowns during the winning streak.

Allen then presented what looked like a dagger. After Bills-and-dimed, the Steelers had two first downs on third-and-7 from their own 48-yard line. After a brief survey of his eligible receivers, Allen saw the crease and took off down the middle of the field. Damontae Kazee, in his first game back after a three-game suspension, drew an open tackle and when Allen crossed the goal line 52 yards later, it was the second-longest touchdown by a quarterback in NFL playoff history. 21-0.

Once again the Steelers offense responded with a three-and-out, and before they knew it, the Bills were lining up for a 49-yard field goal attempt that CBS analyst Tony Romo suggested was a bit greedy considering the elements, a really big lead, and so close to halftime. Trying to push the ball into the wind, Tyler Bass' attempt looked low and ended in a block credited to Montravius ​​Adams.

Five plays after Nick Herbig's recovery, Rudolph connected with Johnson for a 10-yard touchdown that led to a sick recovery. 21-7.

On the extra point following Austin's touchdown, Dan Moore Jr. was flagged for what appeared to be retaliation as he grabbed his face mask, and Chris Boswell found himself punted from the 20-yard line. Then on second-and-5 from the Steelers 35-yard line, Myles Jack was flagged for a hit on Allen after a 2-yard gain to make it 1st-and-10 from the 18-yard line. Two plays later, Allen completed a seemingly innocuous pass to Khalil Shakir, who made a chicken salad by holding his balance through an attempted tackle by Minkah Fitzpatrick and getting past Mychal Walker to complete a 17-yard catch-and-run. 31-17. soccer.

“I appreciate the effort of our guys,” coach Mike Tomlin said. “I just told them that, but the efforts aren't working. So, let's talk concretely about why we're not working. We've spotted them early in the football game with turnovers. We can't come to an environment like this against them.” A playoff caliber team that turns the ball over like that and we expect to be competitive. We fought throughout the match. We cut it to (24-17) and we were excited about that. Then we gave up the drive.” When you get a big penalty while rushing the defense, it usually results in points. This was the case and it brought them back to 14 points, and then the rest is academic. I appreciate the effort, but “it's not Mysterious. We didn't do what was needed to win tonight.”

Because they deviated from the recipe.