Bills flyover

Maj. Matt Blue, a Portville native, piloted the flyover before Sunday’s season-opening game between the Buffalo Bills and Pittsburgh Steelers at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park.

ORCHARD PARK — Notes from the Bills’ 23-16 loss to the Steelers on Sunday afternoon before 69,787 witnesses at Highmark Stadium:

-- The game’s unquestioned biggest play came with just under 10 minutes remaining when the Steelers blocked a Matt Haack punt. Safety Miles Kinnebrew came up the middle and deflected the kick, the loose ball picked up by linebacker Ulysses Gilbert, who returned it nine yards for the touchdown that put Pittsburgh up 20-10.

The blocked punt was the Steelers' first since Roosevelt Nix had one against Atlanta in 2018. Gilbert’s TD return off the blocked punt was Pittsburgh's first since current Bills’ linebacker and special teamer Tyler Matakevich scored against Cleveland in 2017.

-- The game’s first giveaway came when Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen was sacked by Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt, who also caused a fumble which was recovered by defensive end Cameron Heyward.

It was Watt’s 18th career forced fumble, the most in the NFL since he was drafted in 2017.

Later Watt, fresh from an end to his contract “holdout,” paid more immediate dividends with his second and third sacks of the game. He now has 51 ½ career sacks in four seasons plus one game.

-- The Bills' first sack of the season was recorded by defensive end Mario Addison, which also caused Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to fumble, though Pittsburgh recovered.

Later, safety Jordan Poyer also dumped Roethlisberger.

-- A defensive holding penalty on Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White cost him his first interception of the season.

-- The game began with a 75-yard kickoff return by Buffalo wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie which set up a 37-yard field goal by Tyler Bass.

-- Nickel cornerback Taron Johnson led the Bills with seven tackles, all of them solos for a game high. Safeties Micah Hyde and Poyer each had sis solos.

Steelers’ safety Minkah Fitzpatrick and inside linebacker Devin Bush tied with a game-high 10 tackles and each had six solos.

-- A 5-minute, NFL-supplied 9-11 presentation on the scoreboard before the game ended with the national anthem which was punctuated by a C130 stadium flyover piloted by Portville native Maj. Matt Blue.

-- Buffalo’s captains for the season are Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs on offense, linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, Hyde and Poyer on defense and long-snapper Reid Ferguson, running back Taiwan Jones and Matakevich for the special teams.

-- Inactive for the Bills were defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (calf), defensive end Boogie Basham, running back Zack Moss, tackle Tommy Doyle and linebacker Andre Smith. Moss was not injured and his spot with the game actives was taken by former Dolphin Matt Breida.

-- Inactive for the Steelers were quarterback Dwayne Haskins, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, linebacker Robert Spillane, tackle Rashaad Coward and defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk.

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