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Hits just keep on coming for Buffalo

9/30/2001

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- The Pittsburgh Steelers left the
Buffalo Bills physically and emotionally devastated.

The Bills not only lost 21-3 on Sunday to a rusty Steelers team
coming off a 21-day break, but they ran into further injury woes,
leaving the rest of their year in question.

And it's only Week 3.

Initially, the psychological strain from starting 0-3 for only
the second time since 1986 appeared to hurt more than the blows
their already young, inexperienced depth chart took.

"Even though I have had a few losing seasons since I've been
here, we still competed," receiver Eric Moulds said. "Now we're
getting blown out and it seems like nothing's working."

Added a clearly angry Bills coach Gregg Williams: "It's not
disappointment, it's not discouraging. I'm ticked. I have to take a
look at it from top to bottom."

It won't be a long review considering how few players Williams
has left.

Buffalo's already injury-ravaged offensive line lost Kris
Farris, who broke his lower right leg. Farris was taking over for
injured starter John Fina.

Quarterback Rob Johnson left the game with a bruised hip.
Defensive end Phil Hansen dislocated his right elbow and
third-string receiver Jeremy McDaniel sprained his ankle.

Can things get any worse for the Bills?
Cerrato's Analysis: That's tough to say. They couldn't stop the run and their quarterback went out, so they really couldn't do anything offensively. Beside their problems at running back, they've got offensive-line problems. They have no sync, no continuity on offense. But you've got to give some credit to the Steelers. Jerome Bettis ran the ball well, and when the Steelers are running the ball, that opens up everything else for them.

ESPN.com NFL analyst Vinny Cerrato has served as director of player personnel for the Redskins and 49ers.


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Coming off a 42-26 loss to Indianapolis, Buffalo unraveled
against the rusty Steelers. Coming off a bye, and after the NFL
postponed its Week 2 schedule, Pittsburgh hadn't played since a
21-3 season-opening loss to Jacksonville on Sept. 9.

The only score Pittsburgh needed came when cornerback Dewayne Washington scooped up Travis Henry's fumble and ran it back 63
yards for a touchdown late in the first quarter.

"That broke their backs. They could never recover from that,"
said Lee Flowers. "We just played with a confidence."

Washington's touchdown was the Steelers' first of the season,
and it provided a surprising turn of events.

The Steelers were called for three straight penalties for 35
yards, giving the Bills the ball on Pittsburgh's 40.

Two plays later, Henry had the ball poked out of his arms by
Brent Alexander. Washington scooped it up on one bounce, broke free
of Johnson's tackle and outran Peerless Price.

"It meant a lot," added Washington. "Obviously, our offense
is still going through some growing pains. Defensively, we've got
to take control, especially games like this where we feel like we
can dominate."

Along with sacking Johnson four times, the Steelers limited the
Bills to 172 yards of offense. The Bills' only scoring threat came
at the end of the first half, when they got to the Steelers 1 but,
thanks to a false-start penalty, settled for Jake Arians' 23-yard
field goal.

Kris Brown hit field goals from 30 and 52 yards, while Chris
Fuamatu-Ma'afala rumbled 22 yards for a touchdown to seal the
victory with 3:42 left.

Jerome Bettis had a strong game, rushing for 114 yards on 21
carries. Kordell Stewart was inconsistent, going 15-for-22 for 107
yards. Hines Ward caught nine passes for 79 yards.

The Bills couldn't get anything going, which drew the ire of the
soldout crowd, which booed the offense off the field three times.

"It's terrible," said Johnson, who finished 13-for-22 for 104
yards passing.. "It's not a lot of fun. We have to fix it. I think
we're all frustrated."

Johnson's been sacked four or more times in 11 of his last 14
starts, and is winless in his last six, going back to Buffalo's
21-17 victory over Kansas City last Nov. 19.

It didn't help that his protection was made up of a patchwork
offensive line, that featured only one experienced regular,
five-time Pro Bowl guard Ruben Brown.

Before the game, Buffalo's first at home since the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks, New York Gov. George Pataki gave an impassioned
speech, highlighting the ceremony honoring firefighters, police
officers and emergency crews.

Bills owner Ralph Wilson donated $130,000 worth of tickets to
local emergency personnel.

Game notes
Moulds caught a pass in his 52nd game, extending his
franchise record. He's is well off last year's pace, when he had 94
catches for 1,326 yards. In three games, Moulds has five catches
for 63 yards. ... Bettis is 54 yards from becoming the 14th player
to reach the 10,000-yard rushing plateau. He could accomplish the
feat in the first regular-season game at the Steelers' new Heinz
Field, next weekend against Cincinnati. ... The Steelers were
called for 12 penalties for 125 yards.