It took just two weeks for the only undefeated in the NFL to lose their grip on a first-round playoff bye in the AFC.
The Pittsburgh Steelers were the best team in football two weeks ago, sitting at 11-0. Losses to Washington last Monday and to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday have dropped Ben Roethlisberger's squad to 11-2. Pittsburgh now trails the 12-1 Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC's No. 1 seed.
In a cold, snowy night in Buffalo, New York, the Bills (10-3) downed the Steelers 26-15 on "Sunday Night Football."
5. Bills return to 'Sunday Night Football'
To quote Carrie Underwood, fans were "waiting all day for Sunday night," but as Mike Tirico pointed out, Buffalo Bills fans were waiting for 13 years. For the first time in over a decade, the Buffalo Bills played a regular season game on Sunday night in primetime.
Coming into 2020 as the betting favorites to win the AFC East after Tom Brady departed the New England Patriots, Bills fans were rewarded with more primetime games than any Buffalo team has had in recent memory. So far, the Bills have delivered, earning nine wins coming into Sunday and leading their division over the Miami Dolphins. For Bills fans, Sunday's final result was worth the wait.
4. Diontae Johnson's drop issues continue
Coming into "Sunday Night Football," Steelers WR Diontae Johnson led the National Football League with nine drops. He then dropped two of his first three targets against the Bills.
Johnson's drops, and drop rate, are some of the worst in the NFL and it has become an issue for the young wideout. RADIO.com reported that "while a segment of the fan base is still very much aboard the Diontae bandwagon, others (many of them still recovering from the heart attack he gave them with his fumble against the Ravens in Week 12) are growing concerned, tiring of the 24-year-old’s mistake-addled brand of football."
3. Passing games showcased
The Steelers and Bills came into Sunday with just the 20th and 23rd most run-heavy splits in the league and with two of the least efficient running games. Despite snow and sleet, the teams stuck to their passing attacks in primetime. The Steelers attempted 37 passes, and the Bills 43, while the two teams combined for just 44 rushing attempts.
The success of these passing games, however, was spotty at best. The game was tied deep into the second quarter, and neither team could string together consistently long drives.
2. Josh Allen struggles early
Josh Allen started Sunday's game 3 of 8 for 23 yards and just one first down in the game's first 14 minutes. Halfway through the quarter, Allen's arm was hit on a deep throw and the ball soared through the air and easily into the arms of Steelers defender Mike Hilton.
The interception was Allen's ninth of the year (tied for his 2019 total), but the Steelers were unable to capitalize. With solid defensive play and some harsh weather, the entire game started a defensive affair (0-0 after the first quarter) but Allen's inability to manufacture completions held the Bills back early.
Allen finished 24 of 43 for 238 yards and two TDs.
1. Defense carries Buffalo to victory
Though the offense started slow, the Bills defense kept them in the game (and often actively propelled them to victory) all night. When Josh Allen couldn't string together drives, Buffalo's defense scored anyway, picking off a late second-quarter pass from Ben Roethlisbeger and giving the Bills the lead on a returned touchdown. Buffalo held Pittsburgh to under 200 passing yards and no Steeler rusher broke 20 yards on the ground.
When Josh Allen and the Buffalo offense broke through, it was all but over given how the other side of the ball performed on "Sunday Night Football."