Steelers at Payments Rating: Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs drive previous Pittsburgh with a huge effect on the playoffs
The Pittsburgh Steelers boast some of the best defenses in the NFL, but their vaunted unit had no answers for Stefon Diggs on Sunday night. On the scoreboard early, the Steelers saw in a defensive-facing snail feast that the big play wide receiver acted as a go-to for Josh Allen from start to finish in week 14 of the expected AFC showdown. When they got the ball, things didn’t go nearly as smoothly. Diontae Johnson got a trip to the bank and Ben Roethlisberger flipped the ball twice while consistently hitting the first seven of the bills. In the end, Allen and Co. prevailed and secured a 26-15 Bills win to improve to 10-3 and stay comfortably on the AFC East.
The decision on Sunday evening marks the second straight loss for the Steelers, who opened the season 11-0 before falling to the Washington Football team in Week 13. Pittsburgh remains in first place at AFC North, although the second-placed Cleveland Browns (9-3)) have the chance to take the lead within one game on Monday night.
Here are some examples of Bills’ win on Sunday:
Why the bills won
On this side of Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill, they have possibly the best quarterback-wide receiver connection. If it sounds crazy just think how easily Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs teamed up to destroy the Pittsburgh Steelers’ vaunted defenses. Mike Tomlin’s group was under Joe Haden, yes, but still – 10 catches for 130 yards and a score doesn’t even do Diggs justice because he’s consistently found wide space and made life easier for everyone. The Bills QB was a delight to watch yourself dodging Pittsburgh’s front-seven attack to play a largely clean game with a huge impact on the playoffs.
Oh, and Buffalo’s own defense? Killer if you had to. Levi Wallace and Taron Johnson both had big games on the ball, Tre’Davious White was predictably lively on the outside, and the line kept Ben Roethlisberger under pressure for most of the night. A total team win here.
Why the Steelers lost
Dink-and-dunk crimes – involving receivers who may or may not catch the ball, by the way – usually work better when you’re ahead in the game. The Steelers fell into a deep hole by chance, however, losing an early 7-0 lead and trailing 23-7 by mid-third quarter. By then, Diontae Johnson’s drops, endless short-of-the-sticks routes, and a game on arrival had already doomed Pittsburgh’s offensive efforts. Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t terrible, but he wasn’t great either. He spent more time evading stuffy pockets than venting the ball down.
On “D” without Joe Haden, the Steelers successfully pushed Josh Allen out of his pocket a couple of times, but that’s about it, they didn’t include Diggs and also gave up some major Devin Singletary runs.
Second down. Steelers’ ball. Fifty-two seconds left in the first half. Pittsburgh was leading 7-3 at that time, with the chance to build on this advantage during the break. But then Taron Johnson took a perfect break on Roethlisberger’s short pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster and scrambled for a choice that returned the interception for the score by a margin of 51 yards. The TD not only gave the Bills a permanent head start, but also flipped the script of the first half completely in favor of Buffalo.
Game of the game
It had to be Taron Johnson’s Pick-Six – a perfectly executed punch from Big Ben’s Pass and a game changer of a score:
The Bills (10-3) have a short week to prepare for the Denver Broncos (5-8), who have just defeated the Panthers and will have a matchup on Saturday afternoon. The Steelers (11-2) will be back for prime time Monday night, December 21st, when they visit rival Cincinnati Bengals (2-10-1) who are currently losing to the Cowboys.