Updated: Sep 17
(Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
T.J. Watt - Fresh off receiving a massive contract extension that made him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, Watt had a field day against the Bills in Western New York. Watt recorded two sacks, a tackle for a loss, five quarterback hits and a forced fumble. And if he wasn't held on nearly every play, Watt's numbers would have been even more impressive. Watt drew a total of three holding penalties. Watt did all this with only one week of practice where he was a full participant, which just shows how special he is as an athlete. Mike Tomlin said earlier this week that he wasn't concerned about Watt's football shape heading into Sunday's game, and Watt displayed this afternoon that he wasn't fatigued at all. In fact, it was the other way around, as he was a handful for the Bills' offensive line to block all game.
Alex Highsmith/Melvin Ingram - Watt wasn't the only Steelers' pass-rusher who created havoc for the Bills' offensive line, as Highsmith and Ingram were both effective in the run game department and getting after Josh Allen. Pro Football Focus credited Ingram with eight quarterback pressures. The front-seven overall was very impressive against Buffalo. Just wait until Stephon Tuitt comes back. This group has a ton of talent and potential.
Cam Sutton - Sutton was all over the field against the Bills, producing five tackles, two passes defended and two tackles for a loss. Sutton's biggest play of the game came on fourth-and-1 early in the fourth quarter when he sniffed out a pitch to Bills' running back Matt Breida for a 7-yard loss. The Steelers took over from their 48-yard line and drove down the field on a 4-play, 52-yard scoring drive that was capped off by a 5-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson from Ben Roethlisberger. It was a bizarre play-call by the Bills on fourth-and-short, but Sutton showcased his high football IQ by reading the play perfectly and tackling Breida in the backfield.
Miles Killebrew/Ulysees Gilbert III - Sutton's fourth-down stop and Johnson's 5-yard touchdown reception that followed, tilted the momentum toward the Steelers. The defense feed off that energy and forced a three-and-out on the Bills' next possession, and then the punt return team had the play of the game. Killebrew blocked Matt Haack's punt, which was scooped and scored by Ulysees Gilbert for a 9-yard touchdown to give the Steelers a 20-10 lead over the Bills with 9:45 remaining.
Cameron Heyward - Like Watt, Highsmith and Ingram, Heyward had his way with the Bills offensive line. Along with four total tackles, Heyward racked up a sack, a forced fumbled, a fumble recovery and two passes defended where he batted the ball at the line of scrimmage. Heyward had a league-high 12 quarterback pressures, according PFF.
Chase Claypool - Claypool started the game off slow, as did the entire offense, but he really got things going after he had a 22-yard leaping grab over All-Pro cornerback Tre'Davious White down the right sidelines on the first drive of the second half. The Steelers got a field goal off the drive. Claypool had a 25-yard run on an end-around on the following possession that set up another Chris Boswell field goal. And then, on the drive that resulted in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Johnson in the fourth quarter, Claypool drew a 26-yard defensive pass interference penalty two plays prior. Claypool also had a clutch 14-yard reception on third-and-7 late in the fourth quarter that set up a 45-yard Chris Boswell field goal to give the Steelers a 23-13 lead with 2:42 left in the game.
Diontae Johnson - Johnson wasn't a standout performer on the stat sheet with just five receptions for 36 yards, but he did have a 5-yard touchdown grab that displayed great concentration after Bills' cornerback Levi Wallace deflected the ball to give the Steelers their first lead of the game in the fourth quarter. It was in Buffalo last December that Johnson was benched until the second half because of two drops in the first quarter. Drops plagued Johnson last year, as he led the league in drops with 16, according to Sports Info Solutions. So, it was good to see Johnson bounce back with a crucial touchdown in the back left corner of the end zone that helped the Steelers upset the Bills on the road.
First Half Offense - The Steelers offense had just three first downs and 54 total yards of offense in the first half, and were 1 of 6 on third downs. Ben Roethlisberger was 6 of 12 for 58 yards in the first half. Obviously, the Steelers picked things up in the second half, but they might not be as fortunate down the road with not playing a complete game offensively.
Kickoff Return Team - The kickoff return team let Isaiah McKenzie return the opening kickoff 75 yards. Luckily for the Steelers, the defense let up just three points on the drive.