The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Buffalo Bills 23-16 in the first game of the new season. The Steelers failed to score in the first half as their offense struggled early. Despite their struggles, the Steelers put up 20 unanswered points to flip the script in the second half.
Bills receiver Isaiah McKenzie started the game off with a bang as he returned the opening kickoff to Pittsburgh’s 24-yard line. The Steelers’ defense was able to hold them to a field goal after the big return.
Late in the half, Josh Allen was able to lead Buffalo on a 91-yard drive which ended in a 3-yard touchdown pass to receiver Gabriel Davis. Buffalo went into the half leading Pittsburgh 10-0.
The Steelers came out in the second half with rejuvenated energy. They were able to drive down field and put points on the board with a field goal from Chris Boswell. After holding Buffalo, the Steelers drove down field once more and added another field goal.
The Steelers put together a 52-yard touchdown drive to begin the fourth quarter. This drive was topped off by a juggling touchdown catch from Diontae Johnson.
Pittsburgh’s defense held the Bills once again, forcing them to punt. The punt was then blocked by safety Miles Killebrew. The loose ball was then picked up and brought in the endzone by linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III. This gave the momentum to the Steelers and helped lead them to their first win.
Each team added field goals to finish out the game resulting in a final score of 23-16 in favor of the Steelers.
Pittsburgh’s defense dominated. Cornerback Cam Sutton was one of the most impactful players for the Steelers. Sutton finished with 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and deflected 2 passes. Late in the third quarter, the Bills had a fourth and one and decided to go for it. Sutton read the play perfectly and brought down running back Matt Breida in the backfield to give Pittsburgh possession. T.J. Watt made a big impact, as he always does, with 2 sacks. Cam Heyward had a sack as well.
Rookie running back Najee Harris struggled in his NFL debut. Harris rushed 16 times for 45 yards. He also caught one pass for 4 yards. Though he had his troubles early, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was able to complete 18 out of 32 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown. Juju Smith-Schuster led the team in receiving as he caught 4 passes for 52 yards. Chase Claypool had a solid day as he caught 3 passes for 45 yards while also having one rush for 25 yards.
Pittsburgh began the season with a big win over one of the better teams in the AFC. They get revenge for the loss Buffalo handed them just a season before. The Steelers showed why their defense is one of the best in the league. The offense did enough to get the win, though they certainly have some issues that should be solved before their next game.
Pittsburgh will look ahead to next week’s game where they’ll be taking on the Las Vegas Raiders in their home opener.