ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — In the first half of the Steelers’ season-opening win over the Buffalo Bills, the offense just getting to the red zone seemed like an uphill battle.
After the Steelers put up just 54 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes, the team settled in and started to put together some drives in the third quarter.
But the first two ended in the shadow of the Buffalo goal posts, ending when Najee Harris couldn’t come up with a high Ben Roethlisberger flare pass at the Buffalo 6-yard line and Harris was tackled at the two after a Roethlisberger check down.
Both of those series ended in short Chris Boswell field goals, which helped put the Steelers into position to make a comeback later. But the team wants touchdowns in those scenarios when they get inside the opposing 10-yard line, not field goals.
“They gave us a little bit of a different look than we thought down there the first couple of times,” Roethlisberger said. “We didn’t score the touchdowns like we wanted to, which could’ve been game-changers. You always want to score touchdowns down there.”
Tomlin said the fact that the Steelers defense had kept the team in the game throughout as the Steelers’ offense struggled to get going made it a no-brainer to kick from short yardage instead of pushing to go for it.
“When you’re playing good defense, those decisions are easier,” he said.
In contrast, Buffalo’s Sean McDermott went for two fourth downs in the third quarter to try to break the game open. Both backfired, and Roethlisberger used the short field to finally get into the end zone on a five-yard score to Diontae Johnson.
“We just talked about somebody had to make a play and I just stepped up,” Johnson said.
With a brutal first half and just six points in the first three quarters, the Steelers have plenty of clean up offensively after their Week 1 win, and failure to punch it into the end zone when given the chance will certainly be on that list.
“We got the points when we needed them,” Roethlisberger said. “We’ll learn from them.”