Ben Roethlisberger, Steelers Rally to Beat Josh Allen, Bills in Week 1 Clash

AP Photo/Adrian Kraus

The Pittsburgh Steelers kicked off their 2021 season with a key conference win, earning a 23-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills. 

Down 10-0 at halftime, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers found more success in the second half to earn a come-from-behind road win at Highmark Stadium. The Pittsburgh defense was especially impressive, holding last year’s No. 2 scoring offense to just six points in the second half.

Pittsburgh’s special teams did their part as well with a blocked punt returned for a touchdown that extended the lead in the fourth quarter:

NFL @NFL

BLOCK. THAT. KICK. #HereWeGo

📺: #PITvsBUF on CBS
📱: NFL app pic.twitter.com/6G4gla9A8u

Buffalo had a pair of field-goal drives down the stretch, but it wasn’t enough to pull out the win.

Josh Allen was held to just one passing touchdown as the Bills struggled offensively. It’s an early setback for a team considered a top Super Bowl contender entering the season. 


Notable Performances

Josh Allen, QB, BUF: 30-51, 270 passing yards, 1 TD, 44 rushing yards

Devin Singletary, RB, BUF: 11 carries, 72 rushing yards

Stefon Diggs, WR, BUF: 9 catches, 69 receiving yards

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, PIT: 18-32, 188 passing yards, 1 TD

Najee Harris, RB, PIT: 16 carries, 45 rushing yards

Chase Claypool, WR, PIT: 3 catches, 45 receiving yards, 25 rushing yards


Josh Allen Can’t Generate Enough Offense

There wasn’t much room for the Bills to operate, with the Steelers defense playing well at all three levels. Cameron Sutton held his own against Stefon Diggs, while T.J. Watt was showing why he earned a huge extension before the start of the season.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

TJ Watt is UNREAL 😳

Chases down Josh Allen for the strip-sack.

(via @NFL)
pic.twitter.com/mywGMUDoGj

Louis Riddick @LRiddickESPN

Earning that 💰 TJ Watt!!!!

Allen finally came through with a touchdown pass to Gabriel Davis just before halftime:

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Josh Allen delivers a strike to Gabriel Davis for his first TD of the year 🎯

(via @NFL)
pic.twitter.com/IIsC9UQTm8

It still wasn’t easy to move the football as Allen struggled with efficiency, finishing with just 5.3 yards per pass attempt.

The Bills then further hurt their cause by turning it over on downs in each of the first two drives of the second half. Those plays represented significant turning points in the game.

Adam Benigni @AdamBenigni

#Bills turn it over twice on downs featuring highly questionable calls and decisions.

Leads directly to 10 #Steelers points and a 13-10 lead for Pittsburgh with 11:19 left in the 4th quarter. @wgrz

Tim Benz @TimBenzPGH

Everything the Bills have done on 4th downs has been wrong

The second fourth-down stop was a strangely designed play to Matt Breida that lost seven yards on 4th-and-1.

The next drive ended even worse for the Bills as the Steelers blocked a punt and ran it back for a touchdown.

Buffalo easily finished with more offensive yards in the game (371-251), but these types of key plays made a huge difference in a low-scoring battle. With just one touchdown on four red-zone trips, the final result is understandable.

Allen will need to clean things up in future games for the Bills to reach their lofty goals this season.


Steelers Overcome Slow Start for Big Win

The Steelers had to have been embarrassed by their offensive showing in the first half Sunday.

Not only were the visitors held scoreless, they finished with just 54 yards of offense with three first downs and five punts. 

Jason La Canfora @JasonLaCanfora

Fairly brutal 1st half for the Steelers offense. Picking up where they left off down the stretch a year ago

Matt Verderame @MattVerderame

The Steelers offense is hideous. They can’t block, and Roethlisberger is picking up where he left off

The offensive line was an issue as many predicted entering the season.

Brooke Pryor @bepryor

The Steelers have 7, yes, s-e-v-e-n, rushing yards at the half.

Harris is averaging 1.1 ypc. The offensive line was the biggest question mark going into today, and with numbers like that — plus two sacks of Roethlisberger — clear that unit still has A LOT of work to do.

There was finally some ball movement in the second half, with Chase Claypool providing a significant boost to the offense:

Pittsburgh Steelers @steelers

WOAH 👀

📺: CBS | @ChaseClaypool pic.twitter.com/5Ui2hTicCv

Brooke Pryor @bepryor

Hey there’s some Matt Canada trickeration. Chase Claypool gets a 25-yard gain with that end around.

Bradley Gelber @BradleyGelber

Chase Claypool has decided to take it upon himself to wake up the Steelers offense.

Claypool also drew a key pass interference before the team’s first touchdown.

Diontae Johnson finished the drive with an impressive catch in the end zone.

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Diontae Johnson makes a WILD catch for the score and the lead

(via @NFL)pic.twitter.com/w9tTMprBo7

That was the only offensive touchdown for Pittsburgh, but it was all the Steelers needed as the defense and special teams took care of business.

The Steelers have a lot of offensive firepower between Johnson, Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Najee Harris, each of whom had quality moments in the game. Even without much consistency, a few good plays from each could be enough for the Steelers to squeeze out wins this season.


What’s Next?

The Steelers will have their first home game in Week 2 against the Las Vegas Raiders. The Bills will go on the road next week for a divisional battle against the Miami Dolphins. 

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