In limiting the Buffalo Bills to fewer than 200 yards until a final meaningless drive, the Pittsburgh Steelers ended a two-game slide with a 23-10 victory Sunday afternoon at Heinz Field.
Pittsburgh (3-6) trailed 3-0 after one quarter before pouring on the next 23 points, powered by a 204-yard passing day from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and 136 total rushing yards from four different backs. Jerricho Cotchery and Le’Veon Bell scored a touchdown each, Antonio Brown snagged six catches for 106 yards – in addition to two lengthy punt returns – and Shaun Suisham went 3 for 3 on field goals.
Buffalo rookie signal-caller E.J. Manuel was held to 155 passing yards in his return from injury, and he didn’t get much help from the Bills’ usually-strong running game. The Steelers permitted them 95 yards on 22 carries, 12 of which by Fred Jackson, who ended up with 55 yards.
Pittsburgh didn’t do much better in the rushing department, as Bell paced the team with 57 yards on 22 carries, although his 4-yard scoring run late in the third quarter gave the Steelers a 17-3 advantage. Jonathan Dwyer served as an effective change-of-pace back, carrying six times for 38 yards.
Roethlisberger went 18 for 30 through the air, which included a short fade to Cotchery that put Pittsburgh on top for good just before halftime. However, he also was sacked four times and threw an early interception that Jarius Byrd returned 57 yards into Steelers territory. Nine plays later, Dan Carpenter booted a 20-yard field goal to make it 3-0 in favor of Buffalo (3-7).
The Steelers used the Wildcat formation to good effect on their first drive of the second quarter. Bell took a shotgun snap at midfield and handed off to receiver Emmanuel Sanders, who carried around the left end for 25 yards. Four consecutive carries by Bell followed, then Suisham connected from 36 yards away for a 3-3 tie.
Big-gain pass plays to Bell (34 yards) and Brown (24) put the Steelers at the Buffalo 5 just before the two-minute warning. Roethlisberger tossed an accurate lob for Cotchery near the left sideline on the next snap, making it 10-3. The Bills threatened on their opening drive of the second half, but Lawrence Timmons’ third-down sack forced a punt.
Brown once again shined later in the third quarter, taking a punt 24 yards to the Pittsburgh 42, then hauling in a deep ball down the middle on the first play of the ensuing drive. The bomb took the Steelers down to the red zone, and a key offside penalty by Buffalo’s Marcell Dareus on a field-goal attempt set up Bell’s short score.
Ryan Clark‘s interception near midfield led to Suisham’s 37-yarder early in the quarter, raising the Pittsburgh lead to 20-3. Brown’s 50-yard punt return assisted another three-pointer on the Steelers’ next possession, this time from 23 yards.
Steve Johnson paced the Bills receiving corps with 58 yards on three catches, but it was tight end Chris Gragg who scored the visitors’ lone touchdown with five seconds to go. Gragg made three receptions on Buffalo’s final drive, which covered 80 yards in 15 plays.
The Steelers remain at Heinz Field next Sunday when they host the Detroit Lions (6-3) at 1 p.m. The game will be televised locally on Fox.