ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — The Steelers’ offensive woes continued as Pittsburgh scored on just one lengthy drive while the team dropped its second straight game in a 26-15 loss at the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
The Steelers got a first-half touchdown after a Cam Sutton fumble recovery set the offense up in good field position at the Buffalo 30-yard line and Ben Roethlisberger found James Washington in the end zone to give Pittsburgh a lead.
But when asked to create drives on their own, the Pittsburgh offense was largely unable. The return of James Conner and Maurkice Pouncey did not spark the Steelers’ rushing attack, which finished with just 47 yards — 18 of them Conner’s on 10 carries.
The Steelers converted just 10% of their third downs and critically turned the ball over twice, including a Roethlisberger interception that was returned 51 yards by Taron Johnson in the final minute of the first half to give Buffalo a 9-7 lead, one that the Bills never relinquished.
After standing up to Josh Allen and company for most of the first half, the Pittsburgh defense broke down in the second, allowing scoring drives of 68 yards, capped by a 19-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Stephon Diggs and 57 yards, finished by a 13-yard pass from Allen to Davis.
Pittsburgh got back into the game with a 10-play, 81-yard drive that ended with Roethlisberger finding JuJu Smith-Schuster for a 3-yard touchdown and an Eric Ebron 2-point conversion to bring the game to within one possession.
But the defense gave up another long Buffalo drive, with Tyler Bass hitting a chip-shot field goal after two critical Buffalo third-down conversions had the Bills deep into the red zone. Buffalo converted 50% of its third-down conversions.
With one final chance to get the game back within reach, Roethlisberger underthrew James Washington on a deep pass down the right sideline and was intercepted by Levi Wallace to secure the game for Buffalo.
The Steelers (11-2), secured a playoff berth earlier in the day with Miami’s loss. Pittsburgh will travel to Cincinnati in Week 14 for a Monday night game against the Bengals.
Alex Highsmith Needs MRI after Ankle Injury Suffered vs. Browns
PITTSBURGH — Steelers rookie linebacker Alex Highsmith suffered an ankle injury that will require an MRI in Sunday’s playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns.
Highsmith left the game in the first half and was seen limping on the Pittsburgh sideline. He made an attempt to return to the game, but was unable to continue playing and did not see the field at all in the second half.
In-game, the Steelers announced that Highsmith was doubtful to return with an ankle injury. After the fact, head coach Mike Tomlin said that Highsmith suffered a high ankle sprain. Highsmith’s father posted on Twitter early on Monday morning that Highsmith will require an MRI on his injured ankle.
Not the way we wanted the season to end but I am thankful to have been a part of this amazing ride! The Highsmith Family is proud to wear the Black & Gold and we look forward to more success in the future! Please pray for Alex as he gets an MRI tomorrow on his ankle! #HereWeGo pic.twitter.com/JJA4PpZpvx
— Sam Highsmith (@SHighsmithClan) January 11, 2021
Given that Highsmith was able to walk and even run in short bursts after the injury, it does not seem likely that it will impact his offseason training plans.
The team’s third-round draft pick out of Charlotte, Highsmith was thrust into a starting role after starting outside linebacker Bud Dupree suffered an ACL injury that required surgery.
On the season, Highsmith played in 16 regular season game and made five starts. He finished with 48 tackles, five for a loss, six quarterback hits, one interception and one pass defended.
With Dupree set to become an unrestricted free agent and unlikely to return, Highsmith should be expected to retain his starting role in 2021.
Mike Tomlin Doesn’t Regret Punt, Will Talk to Ben Roethlisberger About Future
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin answers questions from the media following his team’s shocking defeat at the hands of the Browns in the playoffs. Tomlin explained why he decided to punt on a 4th and 1 in the 4th quarter while trailing by multiple scores. He also touched on the timeline for when he will talk to quarterback Ben Roethlisberger about his future with the team.
JuJu Smith-Schuster Says He Doesn’t Regret ‘Browns Is the Browns’ Comment
PITTSBURGH — It was repeated so often in the five days between when JuJu Smith-Schuster said the phrase on Wednesday to Sunday night’s game at Heinz Field, that it nearly became the No. 1 talking point coming into the game.
“The Browns is the Browns.” Before the game, after the game and probably during the game, many of the Browns made it clear that they had taken exception to Smith-Schuster’s characterization of the team.
The Browns IS THE BROWNS!! 🌚
— Jedrick Wills Jr.®️++💕 (@JWills73) January 11, 2021
Smith-Schuster said after the game that he had no regrets about what he said.
“You know, I don’t regret what I said,” Smith-Schuster said. “I said, ‘The Browns is the Browns.’ They came out and they played a hell of a game. You know, there’s been games where we feel we lose them and today wasn’t our night and hopefully the same Browns will show up next week against the same opponent and go out and do the same thing they did tonight and have a hell of a game.”