Steelers Fall 17-10 to Bills, Still in Playoff Race
[Pittsburgh,PA ]The Pittsburgh Steelers came into this game knowing that a win against the Buffalo Bills not only would’ve put them closer to a playoff berth, but also overtake the Bills for the 5th seed. The Bills knew that a win for them would give them their first playoff berth since 1999. Unfortunately for the Steelers, it was the Bills who came out on top in a 17-10 win in front of 64,694 Sunday Night Fans at Heinz Field.
“That was a tough, hard fought game. But we expected that.” Said head coach Mike Tomlin, who saw the Steelers winning streak end at 3 games. “They are a rough and tumble outfit. We have to tip our caps to those guys and congratulate them, not only on winning the game, but not blinking and making the significant plays in the significant moments. That is something that we pride ourselves in. We didn’t make those plays today. They did.”
This was also the Bills first win vs. the Steelers in Pittsburgh since 1992, (Playoff game) and their first regular season win in Pittsburgh since 1975. The Bills are now 10-4 and are now in full control of that 5th Playoff seed.
Meanwhile the Steelers suffered their first loss since losing to the Cleveland Browns a month ago and unfortunately part of the reason was 4 interceptions from their quarterback. It was Mason Rudolph vs. the Browns and against the Bills, it was Devlin Hodges, who had his worst game in his young NFL career.
Hodges passed for 238 yards and a TD to RB James Conner, but those 4 interceptions proved costly, especially 3 in the second half, and on the Steelers final 2 drives in which he was aiming for the endzone. The other Steelers turnover came on a fumble by rookie WR Diontae Johnson when a Bills defender popped it out of his hands on a shovel pass.
“I don’t know.” Said Hodges “Sometimes you make plays, sometimes you don’t. It definitely wasn’t that we weren’t trying. We were trying to make plays and sometimes the ball didn’t bounce our way.”
CB Tre’Davious White hurt Hodges the most as he intercepted 2 of his passes. The other interceptions came from S Jordan Poyer & CB Levi Wallace.
Although they weren’t as spectacular, the Steelers defense did everything they could to keep the Steelers in this game as they forced 2 turnovers, one on an interception by CB Steven Nelson and a fumble that was recovered by CB Mike Hilton. But the problem was, the Steelers offense failed to capitalize on both and hurt them in the end. Usually giving up only 17 points looks good on a defense, but not so good when the offense only scores 10. The other 3 points were the result of a 49-yard FG by K Chris Boswell.
It was a battle of who could commit the least number of turnovers, which the Bills won easily. Even though he threw the one interception, QB Josh Allen was solid for the Bills as he threw for 135 yards, a TD pass to TE Tyler Kroft, and he also ran for another. K Stephen Hauschka also added 3 more points for the Bills.
Hodges and the Steelers fought hard as they took a 10-7 lead on his TD pass to Conner, and when they were down 17-10, they tried to tie it with 2 final trips to the Red Zone, but the turnovers were just too much.
In his first action back from missing a month due to injury, Conner rushed for 42 yards, and had the 9-yard TD pass. As a team, they had problems establishing the running game as they only had 51 total rushing yards. WR James Washington caught 4 passes for 83 yards, and Johnson caught passes for 62 yards. TE Nick Vannett also had 5 catches for 40 yards. Meanwhile, the Bills
The Steelers (8-6) must now learn from this, shake it off and prepare themselves to travel to New Jersey next Sunday and play the NY Jets (5-9). Although this loss stings, the Steelers are still in command of the 6th Seed for the playoffs and would need a win vs. the Jets next week and a Tennessee Titans loss to clinch that spot. The Titans (8-6) helped the Steelers after falling to the Houston Texans (9-5) 24-21 earlier Sunday.
“We will learn from this and move forward and get singularly focused on our next opportunity.” Said Tomlin “This one is gone. We lived it. There is scarcity in this business. You only get so many opportunities to state a case for yourself. There are no seven-game series and things of that nature. We respect what transpired tonight. We understand it. There is nothing we can do as we sit here but get focused on our next opportunity. We will do that, I promise you that.”
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