Mike Tomlin thinks Steelers outsmarted Bills with blitz strategy
The Pittsburgh Steelers pulled off one of the bigger surprises of Week 1 of the NFL season last weekend when they beat Buffalo on the road 23-16. The Bills were a 13-3 team last season that reached the AFC Championship Game. Many expected them to keep the momentum going, but the Steelers shut them down. And they did so by doing something perhaps unexpected.
The Steelers only blitzed one time in the game, yet had 18 QB pressures — more than any team in Week 1.
So, uh, this @Steelers defense is kinda scary.
They led the NFL in week 1 with 18 QB pressures … but only ran ONE BLITZ.
— Brad Congelio, Ph.D. (@BradCongelio) September 16, 2021
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin joined “The Pat McAfee Show” for an interview on Thursday. In the interview, McAfee asked Tomlin about the Steelers’ reputation for blitzing, and how they didn’t blitz against Buffalo.
“We embrace that ‘Blitzburgh’ reputation. We try to live it out every Sunday. That’s something that we embrace. We don’t shy away from that. We want to play attacking defense. But we wanted to win that game as well,” Tomlin explained. “So, from time to time, we’re willing to stray from our personality in an effort to do so.
“I think that Josh Allen and company probably wanted us to blitz them, and so we chose not to.”
There you go. With that one line, the typically humble Tomlin slipped in how they may have outsmarted the Bills in the game. Of course, when you have the kind of stacked defensive personnel that Pittsburgh has, shutting down opposing offenses is easier. But you also have to pair it with smart playcalling and strategy too. The Steelers did that.