This season, Jeff Reed was 0-for-4 from 40-49 yards. Shaun Suisham hit all 4 of his attempts today, all from 40-49.
The Bills came into the game with the worst run defense in the league, and it showed. Mendenhall got off to a great start rumbling for some big gains. The Steelers don't face a 3rd down until they're almost in Buffalo territory but Ben converts it with a big throw to Hines. We get a gift first down on a defensive offsides when Arians tries to get cute and have Randle El throw. From there, Mendenhall takes over and carries us all the way to the end zone.
Might be the best opening drive of the year.
RAISE SOME MEEEENDEN-HELLLLLLLLL
Buffalo comes out throwing and picks up a first down before they remember they're the Bills and suck. Punt.
The Steelers get rolling again. Mewelde Moore makes two nice catches to convert two 3rd downs to keep the drive moving. The Steelers wind up with another 3rd and long, but Heath comes up with a huge grab to not only move the chains, but also to get us into field goal range. Ben goes for the jugular but Emmanuel Sanders can't come up with the over-the-shoulder grab at the goal line.
An incompletion on 3rd down brings up Suisham's first field goal attempt as a Steeler.
The Steelers pick up right where they left off, pounding the ball right at the Bills. Things look like they're on the verge of falling apart when the Steelers get called for holding, Ben gets sacked, and Hines fumbles. But an illegal contact penalty on the Bills bails the Steelers out, overturning the fumble and giving them a first down. Mendenhall goes right back to work grinding away at the Bills. The Steelers get called for holding again on the other side of midfield. Hines comes up with a big catch to get us to 3rd and manageable, but another sack ends the drive.
FitzBeard goes back to work, leading the Bills across midfield before the Steelers defense holds when FitzBeard can't hit a receiver.
The Steelers get the ball back with 1:42 on the clock. They look like they are going to be content to wind the clock with a run and a short pass. Heath moves the chains and Arians opens things up. Ben is able to find Hines on a deep in-route near midfield with 45 seconds left. A holding call on Jonathan Scott looks like it's about to put the breaks on things, but Manny Sanders bails us out with two big catches to move the chains and get us into field goal range. Ben takes a shot downfield, but Randle El can't come up with it. A penalty on the Bills moves us just a little closer.
Steelers had the ball for 25 minutes in the first half. What a half.
Buffalo starts moving the ball, but James Harrison has other ideas.
Harrison buries FitzBeard
Stevie Johnson, who had 3 TDs last week against the Bengals makes a big catch on 3rd down to move the chains. Two plays later, James Harrison rips the ball out of Lee Evans' hands. Polamalu falls on it to avert the threat.
The offense starts grinding again, with Hines pulling in a big grab down the middle. The drive sputters out at the Bills 35 and Ben pulls out the left-footed pooch punt on 4th and 4 rather than going for it.
The Steelers defense looks to have the Bills bottled up, but a horrendous roughing the passer penalty on Harrison gives the Bills new life. Seems like any time Harrison even touches a QB, the flag is coming out, even if it's in the act of throwing. The defense locks it down again, but on 3rd and 10 FitzBeard hits Fred Jackson out of the backfield on a check-down that he turns upfield and splits the defense and takes it all the way to the house.
The Steelers go 3-and-out and you start to get worried that we might not have enough points on the board.
FitzBeard comes out and spreads the ball around, using a page from the Brady book: short, quick passes underneath the coverage.
The Bills move it down into Steelers territory, getting the benefit of a shaky Pass Interference call on Keenan Lewis to get into the red zone. The Defensive front steps it up, batting down two passes before Ike does what he does, blankets Lee Evans and deflects the pass away on 3rd down. Ike is having a hell of a year. He needs to be our #2 priority this offseason behind Woodley.
The Steelers go back to the ground to start things off and Mendenhall gets held up as he breaks through the line. His forward progress is clearly stopped, but in the New NFL we don't blow our whistles any more, so they let him get held there and the Bills rip the ball out. First down Buffalo. Forward progress being stopped should be reviewable.
The defense holds, stuffing FitzBeard like a turkey on a 3rd and 1 QB sneak. Field Goal. Tie Game.
Mendenhall bounces back from the "fumble" with a big 42-yarder but Kemoeatu gets flagged for playing on the same team as James Harrison. Ben delivers on 1st and 20 with a huge pass to Heath down the seam. Heath is on the verge of breaking out. You can tell. After Ben gets sacked on 2nd down, he makes the play of the game, scrambling away from pressure and doing his best Michael Vick impression to run 18 yards for the first down.
What an effort by 007.
From there, Mendenhall takes over. He had a hell of a game. He puts the team on his back and carries us into field goal range. Ben can't hit any receivers and it's Suisham time.
The Bills get the benefit of a 15-yard penalty on Keyaron Fox for doing something out of bounds after the kick return. Probably made asked someone on the Bills sideline how many Super Bowls they had won.
Either way, the Bills get to start on the Steelers side of midfield. The defense almost holds, but Stevie Johnson makes a catch on 4th and 2 to move the chains. The defense almost gets it back when Willie Gay rips the ball out of Fred Jackson's hands but Lee Evans falls on the ball. Two plays later, Polamalu strikes like lightning. A pass hits off Stevie Johnson's fingertips and out of nowhere, Polamalu flies in like a bat out of hell and makes a diving interception at the 2 yard line. What a pick.
With 2:51 to go, the Steelers go into Ground-and-Pound mode, and pick up a first down and are able to get Buffalo to expend their remaining timeouts. Tomlin goes for the win on 3rd and 7, which we thought was a great decision, and Ben delivers, hitting Manny Sanders for a big gain, but wait...
On 3rd and long, Arians makes a good call to go with the draw play and wind the clock. The Bills get it back with 46 seconds to play.
Polamalu is everywhere in the last 46 seconds, but FitzBeard completes 2 passes to get the Bills into field goal range. Rian Lindell whose parents might have been dyslexic, converts from 49 with the wind at his back.
Buffalo wins the toss and elects to receive. On the plus side, the Steelers get the wind at their back.
Leodis McKelvin almost ends it on the opening kickoff, but trips over his own guy. Suisham gets credit for the tackle.
The Bills start in Steelers territory, but a HUUUGE 3rd down play by Ryan Clark, who has seen his share of criticism from us, prevents them from picking up a first down and forces a punt. What a play by Clark to get his hand in and knock the ball away from the receiver.
The Steelers take over at their own 4, and almost lose the game on a 3rd and 4 when Ben gets sacked and fumbles at the goal line. Luckily, 007 recovered the ball and kept it out of the end zone. With his heels on the goal line, Sepulveda is called upon to punt.
Sepulveda flies in from the Fortress of Solitude, his cape billowing in the wind, and booms a 55-yard punt.
McKelvin isn't so lucky this time, as Keenan Lewis knocks the ball out, and after a scramble for the ball, Buffalo comes out with it.
The Bills start moving the ball and get across midfield before taking a shot downfield for Stevie Johnson. The camera pans. You see Johnson with two steps on Clark and Taylor. The ball is coming in, going to hit him in stride on the goal line...
Stevie Johnson drops the ball.
Literally and figuratively.
With two more downs, the pass rush steps it up, forcing FitzBeard to use his feet. He picks up 4 on second down then gets sacked on a scramble play by Potsie on 3rd down, forcing another punt. Touchback.
With 9:20 left, it's 007 time. Ben converts a 3rd and 8 with a sideline pass to a wide open Mike Wallace to get the drive moving. From there, the running game takes the game over. Mendenhall for 8, Redman moves the sticks. Mendenhall for 9, Redman moves the sticks. Mendenhall for 8, Redman moves the sticks on 3rd and 2 at the Bills 29. In easy field goal range, the Steelers give it to Mendenhall twice more to try to get more yards.
Tomlin sends out the kick team on 3rd down. Smart play.
Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Rashard Mendenhall
Defensive Game Ball: Troy Polamalu
Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game
Stevie Johnson Blaming God
Yes, you read that right. After the game, Stevie Johnson took to Twitter and blamed God for him dropping the would-be game-winning touchdown pass in Overtime.
The boys over at the Shutdown Corner blog on Yahoo took Stevie to task for this.
To be realistic though, Stevie tried to make a name for himself last week after showing off a home-made T-shirt with "Why So Serious?" written on it after he scored against the Bengals. This week, he showed up for the game with the Joker's phrase "Why So Serious?" shaved into the side of his head. We might have the makings of the next diva receiver right here. All he has to do now is change his last name from "Johnson" to some mish-mash of Spanish numbers, like "Uno Tres," and I think he's set. It's not like no one has dumped the last name "Johnson" before.
- Buffalo put up 34 points on the Ravens Defense in Baltimore and took the Ravens to Overtime.
- A win is a win, any way you cut it.
- Are the Refs targeting James Harrison? Definitely.
- That was Big Ben's 24th career game-winning drive, putting him halfway to John Elway's mark of 47.
- The defense played a great game today. Ike Taylor has been playing out of this world. Re-signing him is a must this offseason.
- Hines had another 100-yard game, his 3rd of the season.
- Heath is on the verge of breaking out. Might happen next week against Baltimore.
- Not a good game for the O-line with 6 holding penalties, but when it counted, we were able to run on the Bills.
- 151 yards and a TD for Mendenhall is nothing to sneeze at. Rashard is 38 yards away from breaking 1,000 on the season.
- James Harrison became the first player in Steelers history to record 10+ sacks in 3 consecutive seasons. For all the great linebackers we've had here, that's pretty amazing.
- Under-rated play of the game: Greg Warren's snap to Dan Sepulveda at the back of the end zone in overtime. Right on the money, allowing Sepulveda to get the ball out fast.
- Polamalu has had two unreal games the last two weeks. Even with his injury, he's really starting to turn it on and make game-changing plays.
- Bring on the Ravens. Get ready for Hate Week, Part Deux. Division title on the line.