The Pittsburgh Steelers have had to try to adjust to injuries and unavailability on defense on the fly this year. Up to this point, it hasn’t really been a big problem, but they ran into a continually maturing Josh Allen on Sunday night in Buffalo, who showed himself to be one of the top young quarterbacks in the league with the way that he navigated defensive coordinator Keith Butler’s defense in the second half.
The Bills offense only mustered one field goal and about 100 yards in the first half, and Allen was clearly struggling to adjust to the Steelers’ extensive catalogue of blitzes, but they were able to figure things out during halftime.
The third-year quarterback completed 14 of 20 pass attempts in the third and fourth quarters, throwing for 162 yards with two touchdowns, one to Stefon Diggs—who himself caught seven passes for 92 yards in the half—and another to Gabriel Davis. Allen also rushed four times for 11 yards in the half, one of them gaining a first down.
Head coach Mike Tomlin praised the young quarterback after the game, saying that he “was making some quick decisions and getting the ball out quick. A good quarterback like that that’s having an MVP-caliber year, man, it’s going to be tough to hold him down for 60 minutes”.
“He figured some things out and was able to find some rhythm and made it tougher sledding for us”, he added in referencing the halftime adjustments that the Bills were able to make to lead to a successful turnaround. “We still had our opportunity to make plays. He and they just made more than we did”.
While some tried to comfort themselves by arguing that the Steelers ultimately held the Bills offense to just 20 points (they got six points off of a pick six to get to 26), the point is that they were very good in the second half.
The fact is that they carried out extended drives throughout the second half. Frankly, if they moved the ball quicker, they probably would have scored more. They only had five total drives in the second half due to the length of their drives.
They scored touchdowns on each of their first two drives, totaling about seven minutes and 125 yards combined, before being held to a five-play drive on which they punted on a three and a half minute drive. They then had a four-minute, 11-play drive that reached the Steelers’ five-yard line in which they settled for a field goal.
And then after Ben Roethlisberger’s interception in the middle of the fourth quarter, the Bills were able to run out the rest of the clock over a seven-plus-minute span, running 11 plays spanning over 60 yards by the time they used up the Steelers’ timeouts and were able to end the game with a pair of kneeldowns.