The Steelers take a 7-3 deficit into the second half, getting the ball to start the third quarter. Devlin Hodges has thrown an interception and the Steelers fumbled out of a wildcat on first and goal at the end of the half to blow a scoring opportunity. The Bills’ touchdown came on a 40-yard drive following a bad bunt by Jordan Berry, on which drive they converted on fourth and six rather than attempting a long field goal. Josh Allen scored from one yard out.
Kerrith Whyte fielded a short kick and took it out past the 30 to start the half. Hodges quickly hit Diontae Johnson for a nice gain and a bit of a catch-and-run, but he once again lost the ball. Tevin Jones was fortunate to recover it. At the Bills’ 38, Hodges found James Washington for seven to the left side. Feeling the pressure, he threw the ball out of bounds yet again to set up a third and three. Empty set, Hodges threw quick to Zach Gentry, getting his first catch for a first down.
At the 27, James Conner made a quick cut for a big gain of 17. At the 10 now, back to first and goal, Benny Snell in. He got the carry, but he didn’t get any yards. Conner broke a tackle off a short pass for the 11-yard touchdown to give the Steelers their first lead at 10-7. Points to open the second half is just what they needed.
Singletary picked up nine yards for the Bills on first down as defenders tried to strip the ball out to no success. He got two on second down for a new set of downs. A low pass by Allen resulted in an incompletion on the following play. The ball was off the ground, but just by inches. His next pass was vastly overthrown, with pressure in his face. Now third and 10, he found John Brown for 19 to move the chains in zone coverage.
At the Steelers’ 43, after Singletary rushed for a first down, Watt came from behind and stripped the ball for his sixth forced fumble of the season, Mike Hilton recovering. Another two-takeaway game for the defense, now with 35 on the year.
Taking over at the 31, Hodges checked down to Jaylen Samuels for five. On second and five, Hodges lost all sense of the pocket and allowed himself to be sacked from behind in traffic, losing the ball once again, and once again his linemen recovering for him. This is something he still needs to learn, clearly. Now third and nine, he went down again for two sacks in a row. A safety blitz. Jordan Berry’s punt went out of bounds at the 36 for just 39 yards.
Following an illegal block in the back for a loss of nine yards, Allen was forced to scramble, with Cameron Heyward tackling him after six yards. A bit of a poor handoff and Frank Gore was stuffed by Heyward for no gain. Now third and 13, the pressure up the middle forced a rushed pass low over the middle for a clear incompletion.
An encroachment penalty allowed the Steelers to start their next drive on first and five from the 36. Conner got the carry for three. Hodges rolling out tossed to Johnny Holton for a gain of…a yard and a half. Targeting Holton doesn’t yield very much, does it? Now third and inches, Hodges kept it and waddled through the middle for about four.
A seven-yard out to Washington got the Steelers across midfield. Conner backed his way up the field for another first down. This time, Hodges was picked off by Tre’Davious White for nearly a pick six, taken out of bounds inside the 20. It was a bad throw as well as a bad decision by the rookie, and suddenly it’s a wide open game again.
At the 18, Gore quickly bowled his way forward for nine yards. He was stopped for a short loss on second down to end the third quarter. Now third and two, Allen kept it for the first down to set up first and goal. From the eight, Joe Haden tripped up Gore for a loss of two. This time he lost five. On third and goal from the 15, they ran a draw with Watt coming in to trip it up. Three plays, three tackles for loss to force a field goal and leave it tied at 10-10. Good stand by the defense after an awful throw by Duck.
Now how does Hodges respond?
Coming out throwing on a short pass to Washington, he picked up maybe two yards. Conner lost seven yards on a poorly-developed screen pass. Already third and 15, Hodges threw underneath out of a clean pocket, connecting with Vannett for only 12. Punting on fourth and eight after a false start, Berry’s punt was fair caught at just the 30.
After the play of Renegade, Steven Nelson allowed a 40-yard completion to immediately put the Bills in field goal range. Nelson was also flagged for pass interference, but of course was declined. Allen went back to Brown in the end zone, but incomplete with Nelson in good coverage. Singletary broke off a 15-yard run on the next snap as the Bills continue to move the ball quickly. Vince Williams missed a tackle after four.
Inside the red zone, Singletary lost the ball for the second time of the night near the line of scrimmage, but the Bills were able to recover this time. Tyson Alualu ripped the ball out. On second and nine, Allen’s pass was batted down at the line of scrimmage. Now third down after Alualu’s batted pass, the coverage gave way, allowing Tyler Kroft to get open in the end zone for the touchdown. The Steelers now trail for the biggest margin of the night. It was Kroft’s fourth catch of the year. Terrell Edmunds slow to get over in coverage. Everything has gone the wrong way since the opening drive of the second half.
Starting from the 24, down seven, Hodges threw a bad pass wide to Washington to open the series with under eight minutes to play. Next he was wide to a running back screen, incomplete. Hodges is clearly rattled tonight. And he threw the ball away under pressure on third down. He’s thrown away five or six balls tonight. A three-and-out after giving up a touchdown. This time the punt was fair caught at the 23.
Singletary was held to no gain on first down. He got one yard on second down. Now third and nine, Allen scrambled for about five as the defense forces a three and out. Watt punched at the ball but couldn’t get it out. Like, he literally threw a punch at the ball. If he connected cleanly, he may have forced his second fumble of the night. Johnson had an adventure on the fair catch, traveling further than he clearly thought.
From the 19, Hodges finally completed a pass, short to Johnson for four. Now under five minutes to play, he avoided a sack and got the ball out to Johnson on the other side, who made a tackler miss for a first down. At the 33, a quick out to Vannett for a seven-yard gain. Samuels gained just a yard. Now third and one officially, following a timeout, they called a deep shot to Washington, Hodges connecting inside the 30-yard line. His second big catch of the night. 32 yards.
At the 31, after a delay of game–an awful time to take that penalty–with Whyte in the backfield, Hodges actually stepped up into the pocket and threw to Tevin Jones over the middle, but he couldn’t hold on. Hodges took yet another bad sack for a loss of five to make it third and 20. He threw underneath again to Vannett to pick up just 13, seven yards short of the first down. At the two-minute warning, the Steelers have just two timeouts. On fourth and seven, Hodges’ pass was intercepted in the end zone for a touchback, looking for Deon Cain. That’s his third interception of the night, now five on the season–the same number of touchdowns he has.
Gore picked up six yards on first down, the Steelers using their second timeout with 1:49 to play. Nothing on second down. On third and four with 1:43 to go, no timeouts, the defense stuffed Gore for a short loss; a hold was called on the play, but it was declined, naturally. The call stopped the clock, with 1:40 to go.
Diontae Johnson back to receive the punt after the three-and-out. Steelers rushed the punt to try to force a block, no good. The Steelers got a good bounce around the 40. 1:31 to go. There’s time. There’s nothing to lose now.
A short pass to Conner didn’t pick up much, but the Bills were flagged for a facemask, spotting the Steelers 15 yards, now across midfield. At the 37 of the Bills, they started off with a quick pass to Vannett for eight to the 29, inbounds. Second and two, Alejandro Villanueva was flagged for a false start, with a 10-second runoff added. Now second and seven with :51 seconds. At the 34, Hodges’ pass was incomplete, in traffic, as he took a hit. Third down and seven. A quick completion to Johnson for the first down and out of bounds at the 25. Beating White. Great throw this time.
With 39 seconds, Hodges was dropped for yet another sack and a significant loss. Second and 18, he was intercepted in the end zone. Four interceptions. Just like Mason Rudolph. Two in the end zone in the final minutes. He made a few good throws tonight, but this was an awful game for Hodges. The Steelers drop their final game inside of Heinz Field of the decade and make their quest for the playoffs harder still.