ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The first half was one to forget, but the Pittsburgh Steelers found their game in the second 30 minutes.
Ben Roethlisberger led the team to three straight scoring drives to start the second half, including a touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson to give them the lead for the good in a 23-16 upset of the AFC East favorite Bills at Highmark Stadium on Sunday.
With the Steelers trailing, 10-0 at the end of the first half, Roethlisberger led the first two Pittsburgh drives of the second half deep into Buffalo territory, but both drives stalled and resulted in short Chris Boswell field goals.
After the Steelers defense earned its second turnover on downs of the game, Roethlisberger went back to work, and on the third drive of the second half, he found Johnson on a corner route in the back left of the end zone. Johnson made a bobbling catch and tapped his trailing toe just in front of the pylon to give Pittsburgh the lead.
Another defensive stop resulted in more points, as safety Miles Killebrew blocked the Bills’ punt attempt, Ulysees Gilbert III scooped it up and scored to pad the lead at 20-10.
Buffalo got three points back on a Tyler Bass field goal, but Boswell answered with his third, kicking a 44-yarder into the swirling wind straight down the center of the uprights to give the Steelers a two-score lead with just over two minutes to play. Bass kicked another one late in the game.
The Steelers gained 199 yards of offense in the second half after earning just 54 in the first half, a phenomenal turnaround led mostly by Roethlisberger, who was 18 of 32 for 188 yards.
The Pittsburgh defense yielded yards to Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense, but were stingy with points, giving up just one touchdown and creating a turnover in a strip sack of Allen by T.J. Watt and two fourth-down stops.
Devin Bush Jr. led the defense with 10 tackles. Watt had two sacks and Cameron Heyward had one and recovered a fumble.
The Steelers will return home for their second game, as they host the Las Vegas Raiders at Heinz Field on Sept. 19.