Eleven weeks of football, eleven straight wins. That was how the 2020 season started for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even with those eleven wins, one could see cracks in the foundation. Sure, the defense was playing great, but the offense couldn’t run the ball, there was no threat of a deep pass, and teams that on paper were clearly below Pittsburgh were hanging around until the very end. Also of major concern is the injury bug that is tearing apart that once feared defense.
After suffering that first defeat of the season last week against the Washington Football Team, the Steelers traveled north to take on the Buffalo Bills. This game was quite the matchup during the 1990’s, and after two decades of being a doormat in the in the AFC East, Buffalo was looking to show the rest of the league that they were looking to do damage come January. After a tight first half, the Bills came out firing in the second half to come away with a 26-15 victory.
Neither team did much of anything in the first quarter as they combined for ten straight punts before Pittsburgh jumped on the board. A short field after a Buffalo turnover led to the Steelers lone lead of the night. That would come on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to James Washington. The Bills got their first points of the night on a 34-yard field goal by Tyler Bass. With under a minute left in the half, Taron Johnson intercepted a Roethlisberger pass and returned it 51-yards for a touchdown.
Buffalo came out of the half on fire with two straight drives for touchdowns. The first came on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs. The second would come when Allen found Gabriel Davis for a 13-yard touchdown pass to put the Bills ahead by sixteen points.
Pittsburgh showed signs of life early in the fourth when they went the length of the field to score their first points since the first quarter. That long drive would be capped off with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to JuJu Smith-Schuster. A two-point conversion from Roethlisberger to Eric Ebron got them back to within one possession. Buffalo quickly responded on the next drive that was aided by a 35-yard pass interference call that placed the ball at the one-yard line. Fortunately, the Steelers defense held the Bills to a 23-yard field goal to go up 11.
Pittsburgh would see their next drive come to an end on an interception, which allowed Buffalo to bleed the clock and pick up the victory. Even with the loss, the Steelers were able to earn a playoff birth after the Miami Dolphins lost earlier in the day. It is now a point in the year where teams need to be playing their best football to gain momentum heading into the playoffs. Pittsburgh clearly is not doing that as they have tumbled out of that top spot in the AFC to the number two spot, which means they no longer have a bye. The Steelers will have an extra day of rest this week as they won’t play again until Monday night on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals.