Steelers bounce back with 23-10 drubbing of Buffalo
The Pittsburgh Steelers promised to get back to basics after a horrific first half of the season.
A little more running. A little nastier defense.
A little help from the Buffalo Bills didn’t hurt either.
Pittsburgh shut down rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel in his return, pounding the Bills in a 23-10 win on Sunday.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 204 yards and a touchdown, Le’Veon Bell added 52 yards rushing and a score as the Steelers (3-6) snapped a two-game losing streak.
A week after giving up 610 yards and 55 points in a loss to New England, Pittsburgh held the Bills (3-7) to 227 total yards, more than one-third coming on a meaningless drive in the final minutes.
Manuel completed 22 of 39 passes for 155 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The Steelers limited Buffalo to 95 yards rushing, nearly 50 below its average, and sacked Manuel three times.
The Bills hoped Manuel’s return could help snap Buffalo out of a 1-3 funk that immediately followed the sprained right knee that sidelined the 16th overall pick in the draft for a month.
Manuel insisted he wasn’t concerned about rust, yet he hardly looked like the dynamic playmaker that made Buffalo look so intriguing in September. Battling a gusting wind, Manuel struggled to find a rhythm against a defense smarting after giving up a franchise record for points and yards a week ago.
Roethlisberger wasn’t much sharper, at least early. He underthrew Markus Wheaton on Pittsburgh’s opening drive. Jairus Byrd stepped in front and returned it 57 yards to the Pittsburgh 29.
Led by C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, the Bills made it all the way to the Pittsburgh 1. Rather than test a defense that has allowed the second-most TDs rushing in the NFL, Manuel lobbed pass toward the corner of the end zone that never had a chance. The Bills settled for a field goal.
The Steelers got back into it by taking the ball out of Roethlisberger’s hands and relying on a running game ranked 28th. A 25-yard run on an end around by Emmanuel Sanders highlighted a 13-play, 58-yard drive that ended with Shaun Suisham’s 36-yard field goal.
Pittsburgh went in front the next time it had the ball. Bell raced 34 yards to midfield. Roethlisberger then found Antonio Brown for a 24-yard gain before hitting Jerricho Cotchery with a pretty 5-yard touchdown to make it 10-3.
Any chance Buffalo had of rallying ended late in the third quarter. Roethlisberger connected with Brown for a 40-yard gain, and Suisham came on for a short field goal attempt. Buffalo jumped offside, and two plays later Bell used a block from tight end Mike Adams to give the Steelers’ their first 14-point lead at home this season.
An interception and a 50-yard punt return by Brown helped Pittsburgh tack on two more Suisham field goals, allowing the Steelers to enjoy a brief respite from two months of frustration.