The Steelers fell to the Buffalo Bills in heartbreak fashion this week. Here are Pittsburgh’s winner and losers from their 17-10 loss.
Despite another terrific defensive performance highlighted by the mesmerizing play of T.J. Watt, the Steelers found a way to lose to the Bills at Heinz Field for Sunday Night football. Buffalo is a solid opponent with an outstanding defense, but Pittsburgh’s offense was pitiful with all eyes watching.
Quarterback Devlin Hodges was largely to blame. The undrafted rookie took a major step back this week – throwing four interceptions and fumbling the ball. Here are my winners and losers from the Steelers Week 15 matchup against the Bills:
After missing nearly a month with a shoulder injury, James Conner was impressive in his first action back. The 2018 Pro Bowler showed excellent burst and agility – rushing for 5.3 yards per carry on his 8 attempts. Conner also caught the Steelers only touchdown of the game. The addition of Conner should help the Steelers on the ground moving forward.
T.J. Watt put on another show – earning a half-sack, 2 tackles for a loss, 2 quarterback hits, a forced fumble, and a pass deflection to go with his 4 tackles. The Steelers star pass rusher has been dominant all season. Watt was on fire throughout the night, but his most impressive play was a diving tackle for a loss that he somehow made just a second into the play. He is making a strong case for Defensive Player of the Year this season.
Next to Watt, Heyward has been the most consistent player in a Steelers uniform week in and week out. He was yet again solid up the middle – providing support against the run and getting after quarterback Josh Allen. He finished with 8 tackles, a quarterback hit, and a pass defense.
James Washington could have had a much better game than his stat line indicated. Hodges missed him twice down the field where he beat his man badly. Still, Washington has impressed over the last seven weeks now and is developing into a reliable option for this offense.
I’ve been defending Hodges for the start he’s had early in his career, but his performance against the Bills was downright awful. The undrafted rookie gave us plenty of reason to doubt the Steelers season as he made one poor decision after another. He ultimately turned the ball over 4 times and was sacked 4 times as well in what was by far the worst game of his young career.
I don’t know what was wrong with Berry on Sunday night, but the Steelers punter was off his rocker. Berry had a terrible start with a 22-yard dud that set the Bills up in excellent field position. It didn’t get much better for him from there.
Randy Fichtner finally opened things up later in the game, but we all were predicting his playcalling from our couches in the first half. This offense is clearly not the same without Ben Roethlisberger, but Fichtner had some calls he would like to get back.
The Steelers certainly aren’t eliminated from playoff contention yet, but their loss drops them to 8-6 on the season and puts them neck-and-neck with the Tennessee Titans for the final wildcard spot. If they lose another game, they will no longer control their destiny. Pittsburgh needs to finish strong in their next two contests if they want the chance to prove themselves in the playoffs this year.