Today’s win marked an exceptional, career-defining moment for Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell, who came tantalizingly close to 300 total yards from scrimmage with three touchdowns scored on the ground. For quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, however, things did not go nearly as smoothly, as he found more Bills defenders in the end zone than Steelers receivers.
On the day, he did manage to pass for 220 yards, which moved him into the 10th spot all-time on the passing yardage leaders for his career, but he completed only 17 of 31 pass attempts and was intercepted three times. This just two games removed from a span of three games in which he did not throw a single interception.
Given that Bell ran for more yards—and ran more frequently—than Roethlisberger threw for, it would be fair to say that it was the running back in control of the offense today, and while the quarterback certainly did not play terribly outside of those turnovers, it might not be unfair to say that at times they succeeded, scoring 27 total points, in spite of him.
Each interception proved to be quite costly for the Steelers, as it either took potential points off the board or set up points for their opponents, which certainly helped to make the game far closer than it should have been. At the end of the day, Pittsburgh won by a margin of just 27-20, but the eye test says that the game was not nearly that close.
Roethlisberger’s first interception came at the end of their opening drive to start the game. after working down the field from their own 22-yard line to Buffalo’s 15, on second and five, he found Lorenzo Alexander for the interception instead of his intended target, Ladarius Green.
The veteran quarterback was intercepted for a second time midway through the second quarter on the second play of the drive with Stephon Gilmore almost looking like the intended target on a throw in which Roethlisberger had plenty of time to make a decision in the pocket. Gilmore returned the ball to the seven-yard line and the Bills scored a touchdown a few plays later, which at the time made it a 14-7 game.
Late in the game, on a drive on which the Steelers got a free first down due to a defensive penalty on a field goal attempt, Roethlisberger threw his third interception on third and five from the seven-yard line looking for Jesse James in the end zone. But Zach Brown leaked back into coverage and leaped from his underneath zone to intercept the pass.
With two interceptions in the red zone and another that was returned to the five-yard line, it should be obvious how much of an impact Roethlisberger’s turnovers had on the scoreboard. The Steelers were fortunate to get a couple of stops on defense after his first and third turnovers, but the offense should have been able to points on the board in those situations, both inside the 20-yard line.