Head to head: Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Steelers CB Bryant McFadden
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The Steelers' defense has a way of putting a quick stop to quarterbacks who are on a roll.
They didn't do it to Drew Brees and Tom Brady, but each of those Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks was coming off a loss when they played the Steelers.
But that wasn't the case with Vince Young or Josh Freeman or Jason Campbell.
Each of those quarterbacks faced the Steelers riding some kind of hot streak, and each of those quarterbacks left feeling confused, battered and beaten. None of them finished the game. All were yanked because of poor performance.
Young, Freeman and Campbell combined to complete just 34 of 60 passes for 320 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions against the Steelers. They were sacked nine times and combined for a passer rating of 43.75. Their teams lost by a cumulative score of 92-27.
This cannot be good news for Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who comes into today's 1 p.m. game against the Steelers riding a two-game winning streak and leading an offense that has averaged 24.5 points since he became the starter in Week 3.
"Ryan's done a great job of spreading the ball round to different people and taking advantage of miscues and doing a good job of running the whole offense," Bills coach Chan Gailey said of Fitzpatrick, a former backup with the Cincinnati Bengals who has thrown 18 touchdowns in the past eight games, more than any other NFL quarterback. "He's very smart. He understands defenses and he understands offenses, and the biggest thing he understands is being accurate."
His intelligence is not surprising, given Fitzpatrick's Harvard education. But his production is, especially after the Bills managed just 17 points in their first two games of the season.
But that's when Gailey switched quarterbacks, releasing starter Trent Edwards and inserting Fitzpatrick for the Week 3 game in New England. The Bills lost again, 37-30, but their offense came to life. Since then, they have averaged 24.5 points in their past eight games, a number that would rank 10th in the NFL in scoring. That includes scoring 34 in an overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens and 49 in last week's comeback victory against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"He's making some good throws and dropping some throws in tight coverage," cornerback Bryant McFadden said.
The Steelers tightened their coverage last week against the Oakland Raiders, a week after being skewered for 350 yards and three touchdowns from Brady. Despite the problems against the pass -- the Steelers rank 20th in the NFL in passing yards allowed -- they have allowed just 11 touchdown passes, fifth best in the NFL. Conversely, the Bills have allowed 20, third worst in the league.
Fitzpatrick was at his precision best against the Bengals. After completing seven of his first 17 passes and having one returned for touchdown, he completed 14 of the next 17 for 195 yards and three touchdowns -- all to wide receiver Stevie Johnson. After trailing 28-7, the Bills outscored the Bengals, 42-3.
"He's a Harvard guy, so he's smart," cornerback Ike Taylor said. "As far as fooling him, you're not going to fool him. He might fool us."
First Published November 28, 2010 12:00 am