5 takeaways from the Bills’ 23-13 loss to the Steelers

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The Buffalo Bills started the 2021 season with a 23-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Here are five takeaways from the loss:

Another slow start

Bills quarterback Josh Allen . (AP Photo/Adrian Kraus)

The Bills had another slow start against the Steelers. Despite topping the Steelers the past two years in a row, both games didn't come easy for Buffalo. The Steelers kept the game close in those in the first half in those losses, and then in Week 1, Pittsburgh did again. The Bills outgained the Steelers 188 to 54 yards through the first two quarters, however, the Bills didn't get in the end zone until the end of the half. That was a 91-yard drive. Attributing to the Bills' slow start on offense was a few inaccurate deep throws by quarterback Josh Allen. His blocking was suspect at times, too.

Rotation at guard

Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

The Bills had two position battles that even carried over into this past week. Those were at No. 2 cornerback and at guard. At corner, Levi Wallace was named the starter this week by Buffalo coach Sean McDermott. As it went down vs. the Steelers, Wallace was out there for the entire game over Dane Jackson, no rotation. At guard, Jon Felicaino played the whole game on the left but on the right side, we saw the rotating. Cody Ford played the first two series vs. Pittsburgh before Ike Boettger then jumped in. Later on Ford was playing once more. Previously the Bills touted the importance of continuity on the offensive line. Evidently, that's changed. Snap counts on Monday will give us a clear picture of how much Ford and Boettger rotated. Of the two, Ford had some struggles.

Fourth-down questions

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin (right) speaks with Buffalo Bills head coach Sean McDermott Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Bills coaching staff had several questionable calls on fourth down. Early in the game, Allen wanted to stay on the field a few times to go for it, but McDermott decided otherwise on at least two occasions. One of those was very interesting, as the ball was on the Steelers' 43 on a 4th-and-4 and Buffalo punted. On the flip side later on the game, the Bills did eventually go for it. Of those, one was a 4th-and-8 on a play Allen went with a deep pass into triple coverage. Another fourth-and-short play was stuffed in the backfield by the Steelers' defensive front. Not the greatest decision or plays called.

Run game commitment?

Bills running back Devin Singletary. (AP Photo/Joshua Bessex)

This offseason the Bills, including general manager Brandon Beane, said they wanted to have a complementary offense. For much of the game, that was not the case. Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll did not commit much to the ground attack. In the first half, the Bills had 42 total rushing yards with much of the being from Allen, not running back Devin Singletary. Finally late in the game, Singletary did get in some long rushes, including a 25-yard scamper. That helped setup a late field goal, but overall, the Buffalo offense was one-dimensional. Also worth noting, Zack Moss was inactive in the game.

Defense/ special teams falter

Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White. Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

For anyone with the Bills defense/ special teams in fantasy football this weekend... it was a long day on Sunday. At times, the Bills pass rush did have a good presence. Buffalo had six quarterback hits and two sacks. But in the secondary, the Steelers were allowed to make plays which made the difference in the game and penalties were costly. Cornerback Levi Wallace allowed a touchdown and he took multiple pass interference penalties. Even Tre'Davious White negated his own interception with a holding penalty, which could have changed the game. Special teams started well with Isaiah McKenzie;s 75-yard return to open the game. The ultimate difference maker for Buffalo was the blocked punt, though. Those mistakes cannot happen.

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