ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Many expected the Bills offense to pick up right where it left off in 2020, especially in the passing game but the Steelers defense had other ideas in mind for the season opener as Pittsburgh won 23-16 at Highmark Stadium in week one.
It just seemed like Josh Allen and the Bills offense could never get in a rhythm as they went three and out on their opening drive and couldn’t take advantage of Isaiah McKenzie’s 75-yard return on the opening kickoff. Instead, they had to settle for a Tyler Bass field goal.
The next series the Bills had to punt but they had a great opportunity to put some points on the board as Allen had a wide open Emmanuel Sanders deep that would have been a sure touchdown but he overthrew him.
“Obviously that’s one I want back. When a defense like this gives you that type of opportunity you gotta execute and make those plays happen. I didn’t, we didn’t, it is what it is but again it’s a good tape to learn from,” Allen said after the game.
“Just a missed play. I gotta trust my guys and I gotta put the ball where they can make a play and I didn’t on that first one and that’s something I can, I’m gonna think about and like I said when defenses give you those types of opportunities you gotta hit them.”
The next three offensive series after that for the Bills also did not end with points as they punted two more times and turned it over as T.J. Watt came up with a strip sack of Allen that the Steelers recovered.
Finally before halftime the Bills found the end zone as Allen threw a laser to Gabriel Davis as Buffalo took a 10-0 lead heading into the locker room.
But they just could not replicate anything close to that kind of a drive in the second half.
“Whether it be just first game nerves or jitters or feeling stuff with my feet but again I gotta play better, I gotta be better, I know that,” Allen said.
Twice the Bills turned it over on downs. The second time it happened it was on 4th and 1 where Allen turned around and threw it to running back Matt Breida in a play that went horribly wrong as he was brought down for a loss of seven.
“It’s a play that we’ve kind of had in our back pocket and coach calls the play and we go out there and run it. Guy made a good play, I don’t know else to tell you, he made a good play,” Allen explained.
Things went worse from there as the Steelers were able to take advantage of that and score a touchdown to take a 13-10 lead and kept the momentum going as they blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown.
“We’re not gonna panic. There’s 16 games left and we know what we need to do and again we’re gonna look at the film and work and strive to get better,” Allen said.
Allen finished 30 of 51 for 270 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 44 yards.
Going into the game we knew how tough this Pittsburgh defense was, especially up front and it showed as T.J. Watt had two sacks, including that one where he forced a fumble.
It also didn’t help that Bills offensive line was not only going against a disruptive defensive line like the Steelers but often times Buffalo helped them with self inflicted wounds with multiple holding penalties.
“You can’t expect to beat a good football team beating yourself. It’s not gonna work out very well,” Allen said.
There were also times Allen just tried to do too much and had some throws he should have made.
“Finding completions early on, quick ones, trying to help myself out there and help the line and try to get these guys hands down and maybe tired and it’s something I didn’t do. When you’re facing a good team like this you can’t give them opportunities to go and pin their ears back and go get the quarterback in third and long situations and I think we did that too many times tonight,” Allen explained.
This is now the Bills first loss in the regular season since week ten last year at Arizona where they lost on Kyler Murray’s hail mary touchdown as time expired. Buffalo will look to rebound next week on the road in Miami against the Dolphins.