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Steelers 23, Bills 16: How it happened, stars of game, key plays

Steelers 23, Bills 16: How it happened, stars of game, key plays

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Bills Steelers second

Josh Allen gets hit by both T.J. Watt (90) and Melvin Ingram (8) in the second quarter of Sunday's season-opener.

Week 1: Pittsburgh Steelers 23, Buffalo Bills 16

At Highmark Stadium

Play of the game: Steelers block punt block for TD.

Matt Haack’s punt was blocked by Miles Killebrew and recovered and returned nine yards for a touchdown by Ulysees Gilbert III, giving the Steelers a 20-10 lead with 9:51 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Bills had led the game, 10-0.

For the record: Bills 0-1, Steelers 1-0.

The Bills open the season with a home loss against what is traditionally one of the top teams in the AFC, but the result had more to do with the Bills’ shortcomings on offense and questionable play-calling than anything Pittsburgh did.

Josh Allen largely struggled, completing 30 of 51 pass attempts for 270 yards, a touchdown and 79.7 passer rating. He twice missed a wide-open Emmanuel Sanders for what would have been touchdowns, sailing a pass over his head in the first half and misfiring terribly in the second, nearly throwing an interception.

The Bills’ defense tightened up in the red zone, holding the Steelers to a pair of short field goals to keep Buffalo in the lead.

But it couldn’t defend a short field after the Bills turned the ball over on downs near midfield and a Bills punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown, essentially sealing the loss.

Stars of the game:

• T.J. Watt, Steelers: Four QB hits and two sacks, including a strip sack.

• Diontae Johnson, Steelers: Five catches, 36 yards, TD

• Stefon Diggs, Bills: Game-high nine catches, 69 yards.

• Gabriel Davis, Bills: Two catches, 40 yards, TD.

Fast start: Isaiah McKenzie returned the opening kickoff 75 yards to the Steelers 24-yard line. The Bills couldn’t pick up a first down and settled for a 37-yard field goal from Tyler Bass. It was the first time the Bills scored on their first offensive possession in a season since 2011. Before today, only the Houston Texans had gone longer without scoring points on their first possession of the season (2010), per ESPN Stats & Information.

Bag of tricks backfires: Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll got a little too cute in short-yardage situations.

In the first quarter, a flea flicker on third-and-1 near midfield fell incomplete, leading to a punt. Allen targeted Diggs, who was well covered.

In the fourth quarter, the Bills went for it on fourth-and-1 near midfield. Allen threw a backward pass to Matt Breida, who lost seven yards, setting up a short field for the Steelers.

Next up: at Miami Dolphins, 1 p.m., Sept. 19. 

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