The Buffalo Bills are 0-1 after a tough Week 1 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The final score was 23-16 with the Bills leading through three quarters of the game before the Steelers stole the show in the fourth quarter.
While the defending AFC East champion Bills did not look as sharp as they did at the end of last season, there is still a lot of football to play.
This is only ond game out of 17.
Here were the Bills biggest problems which they need to fix moving on to Week 2 and beyond.
The Bills went for it on two fourth-and-short situations in the second half.
They did not convert either.
Does this speak to an issue with confidence in the Bills offensive line (more on that later) or play-calling?
What the hell was that play calling by the Bills on 4th down?pic.twitter.com/mDtNz71ZVb
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 12, 2021
I honestly don’t have a problem at all with the #Bills getting aggressive and attempting trick plays. It’s one of those things where if it works, Daboll is a genius.
— Kurt Haumesser (@KurtHaumesser88) September 13, 2021
It is unclear, but regardless, it is an issue that needs to be worked on and out so that future fourth-down conversions are more seamless and successful.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Pittsburgh blocked a Buffalo punt and scored a touchdown.
This was after they finally took the lead 13-10 so that touchdown was all the Steelers needed to secure the game.
Steelers with a blocked punt and the score!
Pittsburgh is looking to upset the Bills in Buffalo.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 12, 2021
There were seven holding penalties assessed against Buffalo.
To offer perspective, there were only eight penalties against the Bills for the entire game.
The penalties were the result of the Bills offensive line reacting to the Steelers constantly pressuring Allen.
Coach Sean McDermott did not rule out a lineup change to the offensive line before the Bills Week 2 game against the Dolphins.
“We’ll see, we’re going through it. That’s true every week, though. We want to compete during the week, see where we’re at.”
To be fair, the Steelers front four is a formidable bunch so the Bills had a tough task in Week 1.
Allen believes in his offensive line.
“By no means has anybody lost any confidence in them. There’s no loss in confidence.”
It was a team loss today by the Buffalo Bills.
Allen misses. Drops by receivers. Bills defense played great in first half but lost an edge in the second half. Penalties were a killer. Finally, the blocked punt for a TD. Very sloppy start to the season for the Bills.
— Chris Owen (@FiddleSabre) September 12, 2021
Good News For Buffalo Fans
While the Bills lost their opening game, their strength of schedule points to good times ahead.
Out of the 32 NFL teams, the Bills are ranked as having one of the easier schedules this year.
Only nine teams have easier schedules (as measured by opposing teams’ winning percentages from 2020).
The Steelers game is one of the harder games on the schedule that also features games with the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets, Detroit Lions, and Houston Texans.
Every team's strength of schedule for the biggest season ever! pic.twitter.com/jk7VqEKGj5
— NFL (@NFL) May 17, 2021
There is no reason to panic.
The Bills are a good team that will win a lot of games this season.
Their performance is somewhat reminiscent of the Cleveland Browns in their loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.
Both the Bills and Browns, playoff teams last year with high aspirations for 2021, had their games won, but mistakes tripped them up.
Compounded with all of that, no one knew what the Steelers were going to look like.
T.J. Watt had not participated in any team-related activities until days before the game after his extension was signed.
Watch the Bills play the Dolphins in Week 2 to see if they corrected and learned from their Week 1 mistakes.