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Other Week 15 Game Recaps

Week 15 Game Recap: Buffalo Bills 17, Pittsburgh Steelers 10

What you need to know

Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo Bills beat the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road on Sunday night clinching a playoff birth. The Bills played tight to the vest as their defense was formidable against a struggling Pittsburgh offense. Josh Allen ran and threw for a score to Tyler Kroft, and showed a good rapport with John Brown, including a deep go route. Devin Singletary led the offense in rushing but fumbled and was pulled from the game for a series.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers started the 2019 with a 1-4 record, Ben Roethlisberger injured, and looking to have their worst record in the Mike Tomlin coaching era. Then the Steelers hit their stride. Winning seven of their next eight games, the Steelers have played their way into a possible playoff berth. Except for one drive in the second half, the Steelers were not able to get things rolling on the offensive side of the ball. At the end of the first quarter the score of the game was zero to zero and the Steelers were on pace for 112 total yards after the first quarter. The momentum seemed to shift late in the second quarter as the Steelers force an interception to get the ball right before the half. Unfortunately, after a phantom facemask call against the Bills, the Steelers coughed the ball up. In the third quarter the Steelers caused a fumble by rookie runner, Devin Singletary when he was rushing through the line and T.J. Watt was able to disengage from his man, work back to the ball carrier and punch the ball out and cause the fumble. Later in the game, Singletary nearly had a second fumble on a similar punchout move. The game ended for the Steelers on two possessions where the Steelers gained zero yards and turned the ball over with opportunities to tie the game.

Buffalo Bills

QB Josh Allen, 65 offensive snaps, Pass: 13 - 25 - 139 - 1 TD / 1 INT, Rush: 7 - 28 - 1
Josh Allen scored two touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers in a win on Sunday night. Allen had a low volume night in the passing game as Pittsburgh and Buffalo both played close to the vest. Allen missed some opportunities, including an out route to Cole Beasley, a perimeter route to Patrick DiMarco, and a deep throw under pressure to Beasley. However, Allen did have success targeting John Brown who the Steelers had few answers for. Allen hooked up with Brown on a vertical route for 40 yards and went back to the well on the same series, just overthrowing Brown in the end zone. Allen scored two touchdowns, one a corner route to Tyler Kroft in the end zone, and the other a designed keeper in the red zone. Allen had another trip to the red zone to add to his stats, but the Bills inexplicably called three runs plays that lost yardage. Allen’s interception was not his fault as the ball was deflected into the air for a touchdown. Allen will get a tough matchup at New England on Sunday.

RB Devin Singletary, 46 offensive snaps, Rush: 21 - 87 - 0, Rec: 2 - 2 - 0 (3 targets)
Devin Singletary ran hard against a tough Pittsburgh defense on Sunday, carrying the ball a team-high 21 times. Singletary ran with power and elusiveness on the interior but had another fumble which was recovered by the Steelers. Singletary was held out of the next series after the fumble, where Frank Gore got three red zone opportunities but lost yardage. Gore had an opportunity on the edge on the series that Singletary would have been a threat to score a touchdown on. Singletary returned on the following series and got a chunk gain of 15 yards. Singletary did get a red zone carry and was tackled at the 1-yard line which set up a Josh Allen rushing touchdown. He caught both of his targets but was held to short gains on each. Singletary faces a good Patriots defense at New England on Sunday but should have a manageable game script with Buffalo’s defense against New England’s struggling offense.

WR John Brown, 61 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 99 - 0 (10 targets)
John Brown had a strong performance against the Steelers after struggling in recent weeks. Brown was the go-to receiver for Josh Allen including on critical third and fourth down conversions. Brown had the opportunity for a big gain over the middle but dropped the pass. Brown’s big gain was a go route on the sideline where he drew defense pass interference and caught the pass for 40 yards. He was targeted again on the drive, but the go route was well defended in the end zone. Brown is consistently quick and a tough cover in all areas of the field. He will get a tough matchup next week against the Patriots.

WR Cole Beasley, 45 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 6 - 0 (6 targets)
Cole Beasley had a down game against the Steelers. He dropped two passes and was missed on two throws by Josh Allen including a throw in the deep middle of the field where Allen was hit on the play. Beasley’s lone reception was a short catch in the flat. Beasley was second on the team with six targets and will look to rebound next week in a tough matchup at New England.

TE Dawson Knox, 31 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets)
Dawson Knox had a quiet game. He caught a ball in traffic on the first series of the game but was not targeted again. He will face the Patriots next week.

TE Tyler Kroft, 19 offensive snaps, Rec: 1 - 14 - 1 (1 targets)
Tyler Kroft caught a touchdown on a corner route on his only target of the game against the Steelers. Kroft is an ancillary piece to the offense and should not be near lineups in week 16 against the Patriots.

Pittsburgh Steelers

QB Devlin Hodges, 59 offensive snaps, Pass: 23 - 38 - 202 - 1 TD / 4 INT, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0
With four turnovers, and nearly five, this will go down as Devlin Hodges’ worst game and the blueprint of how to beat the Steelers for the remainder of the season. On the first drive of the game Hodges was intercepted on a target to James Washington deep. It was a third down and fourteen yards and Hodges was under a lot of pressure. As he was flushed from the pocket and as Washington was breaking from a double move, Hodges did not notice Washington was being double covered and threw an ill-advised pass. Things looked to be turning around for Hodges in the second quarter when his first pass attempt to James Washington in the second quarter netted the Steelers more yards than their entire first quarter. The pass was poorly thrown and did not have enough arm on it. If Hodges could have driven the ball deeper, he would have hit Washington in stride for a touchdown. This wasn’t enough to build on for Hodges as he almost fumbled the ball on the first play after the Steelers defense recovered a fumble. Hodges’ second interception of the game was a throw across the field from the far hash where Hodges doesn’t have the arm strength to make the throw. Additionally, this throw shouldn’t be done against one of the best defensive backs in the league, Tre’Davious White. With the possibility of tying the game, Hodges was given two final possessions. On his next to last drive on fourth down Hodges throws his third interception into tight coverage to Deon Cain when James Washington was streaking across the field relatively uncovered. The Steelers had one final gasp of life in Devlin Hodges’ hands as the Steelers began their final drive of the game. Hodges was able to keep the offense on time and made his best throw of the night to Diontae Johnson along the sideline, a pass that was picked off earlier in the game. Hodges’ last play, to possibly tie the game, was a throw to the end zone, running to his left, and against his own momentum. Hodges was not able to get any loft on the ball to create a jump ball situation. Instead, Hodges threw his fourth interception of the game.

RB James Conner, 34 offensive snaps, Rush: 8 - 42 - 0, Rec: 4 - 9 - 1 (5 targets)
In his first start since suffering a setback to his shoulder injury, Conner’s opening carry went for 15-yards off the left side. Conner’s worst play of the night came on a wildcat play where Conner took the snap. At the mesh point (point where the wildcat quarterback keeps the ball or hands the ball off), the ball was never completely handed off or kept. Ultimately, the ball was fumbled away. Trying to get things back on track, Conner’s first touch of the second half was impressive and made the defender buckle his knees. Conner displayed excellent vision and lowered his shoulder at the end of the run. Conner seemed to be getting stronger through the game as Devlin Hodges found him out the backfield for a reception. Conner shed the tackle in the open field and was able to stay on his feet for a touchdown. After Conner’s touchdown he only managed four total touches throughout the rest of the game.

WR James Washington, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 83 - 0 (11 targets)
The target total was high, but the quality of the targets was not. Washington had two highlight receptions. The first was on a sluggo (slant and go) on Micah Hyde. Washington then completely turned around for an underthrown ball for 34-yards. Washington showed great adjustment for a poorly thrown ball. Washington had another highlight reception on a crucial catch on third down. Ball was just thrown up for Washington and he made a beautiful tracking catch with his body fully turned.

WR Diontae Johnson, 44 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 62 - 0 (7 targets)
The Steelers were trying to find ways to get Johnson involved with his athleticism deeper downfield instead of through the use of trick plays like in weeks past. Johnson’s second catch on the evening was a deeper target downfield and went for 34-yards. Good display of athleticism against the defender as he accelerated past him. Johnson’s remaining targets were all close to the line of scrimmage and tallied four receptions for 28-yards.