Super Bowl-caliber teams do not play in a Super Bowl-caliber way every time they’re on the field. Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the one that they played yesterday absolutely did. That would be the Buffalo Bills, as you already know, and so many in the locker room could do little but tip their cap to a team that looked every bit the juggernaut they’re often portrayed to be.
And with a recognition that they’re not matching it, as made glaringly obvious by the 38-3 final score, the most lopsided result of the Mike Tomlin era—and worse than any suffered by Bill Cowher as well, on top of that.
“That’s a Super Bowl-caliber team, so for us to get on that level, we have to match their intensity”, said inside linebacker Myles Jack after the game, via the Steelers’ website. “They came out, they made a lot of big plays. They set a record on us today, so it was their day, and we have to give them credit. But we’ve just got to match their intensity. We’ve got to match blow for blow. We gotta be better. That’s it”.
There were, I’m sure, numerous records for the respective franchise—good for Buffalo, bad for Pittsburgh—that were set yesterday. I know the Bills recorded the longest scoring play from scrimmage in the first 90 seconds of a game, which is a curiously specific stat. Bills quarterback Josh Allen also had the second-most passing yards in the first half of a game in the play-by-play data tracking era (1991 and on).
The good news is that losses don’t count extra against you no matter how bad they are or whether or not they set any records, so the Steelers are still 1-4, the same record they would have had if they only lost by one point and gave up 100 total yards from scrimmage.
And as a bonus, the AFC North is so inefficient this year that they actually find themselves just a game out of second place at the moment (and two games out of first), with the Baltimore Ravens on top at 3-2, and the two Ohio teams at 2-3 through five games.
I’m sure virtually everyone would agree that the Steelers are the worst of the four teams in the division (and unlike Cleveland, they already have their awaited starter at quarterback in the lineup). Even in beating the Bengals in week one, the reality is they would have lost if Cincinnati didn’t have a long snapper injury.
The opener is the only game of the year in which any of the Steelers’ units—offense, defense, or special teams—matched the intensity level of their opponents in a satisfying way. And that was all on a mostly stellar defensive effort that, nevertheless, also gave up what would have been the game-winning score near the end of regulation.