Steelers Overcome Deficit, Defeat Bills 23-16

(Orchard Park NY )  In the past 2 seasons, the Buffalo Bills have owned the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2019, they beat the Steelers 17-10 at Heinz Field, and in 2020, they beat the Steelers in a forgettable 26-15 Sunday Night Game at Buffalo. And for one half, it appeared that the Bills were about to make it 3 wins in 3 years after leading the Steelers 10-0.

But the Steelers proved to be sick of it because in the Second half, they outscored the Bills 23-6 en route to a 23-16 victory at Highmark Stadium. And for the 2nd straight season, the Steelers start the season 1-0.

“It’s a great team victory. I’m appreciative of their efforts. Hopefully it’s a sign of what we’re capable of from a will standpoint.” Said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin “But one week in is not going to write your story. It’s just good to come into an environment against AFC giant if you will, defending AFC East champs, and get a win in September. Just really thankful for it.”

It wasn’t pretty, but defensive struggles never are. But what will always matter in the end is who has more points than the other team, and when the smoke cleared, the Steelers were the team left standing.

“You know we’re not worried about style points, we’ll let you guys write whatever stories you want to write,” said Tomlin. “We knew it would be tough sledding. They’ve got a great defense. They’ve got continuity, not only in players but schematics. We’re playing them in their place. We had a bunch of new pieces.

But in the first half, it was all Buffalo. The Bills outmatched the Steelers in all 3 phases (Offense, Defense, Special Teams) while the Steelers struggled to find their bearings. QB Josh Allen was superb in that half as he found holes in the Steelers defense. His first scoring drive resulted in a 37-yard FG by K Tyler Bass. And then late in the 2nd quarter, Allen found WR Gabriel Davis for a 3-yard TD.

But the reason why the Bills were held to 10 points? The Steelers defense. They began to catch fire and put the clamps on Allen & Co. LB TJ Watt (fresh off his $112 million contract extension) got to Allen for one of his 2 sacks and his forced fumble on Allen gave the Steelers the ball. They’re the reason the Steelers remained in the game in the first half, but unfortunately, the offense was still trying to find itself.

“We just played Steelers D. They’re a challenging group, but I’ve got an expectation that our defensive unit is going to be in every football game. And I’m just being bluntly honest.”-Said Tomlin.

And in the second half, the Steelers offense found themselves.

The Steelers comeback began in the 3rd quarter as QB Ben Roethlisberger drove his team down the field and although they missed getting into the end zone, they got 3 points courtesy of K Chris Boswell, whose 24-yard FG cut into the Bills lead. Big Ben would get the Steelers into the Red Zone a second time, only to settle for 3 more points from Boswell as the Steelers now trailed 10-6.

Meanwhile, the Steelers defense continued to keep the Bills out of the endzone as they clamped down on the run and batted down a couple of passes, courtesy of DE Cam Heyward. And when the Bills tried on two occasions to go for it on 4th down, the Steelers defense shut them down each time.

The Steelers offense hit paydirt in the 4th quarter as Big Ben (18-32 ,188 yards, TD) would find WR Diontae Johnson for a 5-yard TD pass, giving them their first lead of the day. And after the Steelers would force the Bills into a three-and-out, their special teams would score a TD as Miles Killebrew blocked Bills P Mack Hack’s punt, with the ball falling in front of Ulysses Gilbert III who picked up the ball and ran it in for the 9-yard TD, extending the Steelers lead to 20-10.

Boswell’s 3rd FG of the day extended the Steelers lead to 23-10 but the Bills would also add 3 points on Bass’s 3rd FG of the day. An onside kick attempt by the Bills was thwarted by Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Shuster as he fell on the ball. Big Ben then took a knee to secure the Steelers victory.

Steelers rookie RB Najee Harris rushed for 45 yards in his first NFL regular-season game and Smith-Shuster caught 4 passes for 52 yards. For the Bills, Allen finished the game going 30-51, passing for 270 yards and a TD.

The Steelers will return home to host the Las Vegas Raiders at Heinz Field on September 19th. “We weren’t style point oriented today. We just had to win this game.”-Said Tomlin.
Notes: Backup LB Robert Spillane missed the game after suffering a shin injury in warmups.

Ray Porter Jr July 2021

Please e-mail Ray at rayporterjr72@gmail.com

Follow him @RP2872_Jr on Twitter