Allen picks Steelers secondary in colossal Bills win
ORCHARD PARK, NY (AP) — Josh Allen set aside a shaky, injury-exhausted Steelers secondary by throwing four touchdown passes in the first half alone — including two deep shots at Gabe Davis — in the 38-3 rout of the Pittsburgh Buffalo Bills on Sunday.
After knocking Davis for a 98 yard TD on Buffalo’s third play from scrimmage, Allen all but sealed the victory by hitting Davis for a 62-yard touchdown and Stefon Diggs for a 15 yard score just over two minutes apart to put the Bills ahead 24-3 with 7:20 left in the second quarter.
Despite wind gusts of up to 20 mph, Allen’s 348 passing yards in the first half was tied for second most in the first two quarters of an NFL game since 1991, and 11 less than the 359 yards Patrick Mahomes had in Kansas City’s 27-. 24th win at Tampa Bay in 2020.
Shot in favor of Case Keenum early in the fourth quarter, Allen went 20 of 31 for 424 yards, the second most in team history and the most in a game ending in regulation.
Davis became the fifth NFL player since 2000 to have two 60-yard touchdowns or more in the same game, and the first since Cincinnati’s Ja’Marr Chase had a pair in a 34-31 win over Kansas City on Jan. 2 last season. .
The Bills broke in for 31 points in the first half despite missing three receivers – Isaiah McKenzie, Jake Kumerow and Jamison Crowder – through injury, while also playing without starting tight end Dawson Knox, who was sidelined by foot and hamstring injuries.
Rookie receiver Khalil Shakir scored his first career TD on a 24-yard catch, and rookie running back James Cook scored his first career touchdown on a 24-yard run.
Buffalo’s 31-3 halftime lead could have been even bigger. Allen’s pass to Davis in the end zone was intercepted by Levi Wallace to end the Bills’ fourth possession, while kicker Tyler Bass blocked a 49-yard field goal attempt three minutes later.
The Bills improved to 4-1, while the Steelers (1-4) have lost four straight, marking their longest slip since the 2013 season opener with four losses. The loss was the biggest margin of defeat for the Steelers since a 51-0 rout of the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 10, 1989.
Whatever spark the Steelers hoped rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett would provide on his first career start was negated by a defense missing top passer TJ Watt and starting safety Terrell Edmunds (concussion) and starting cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon (hamstring). Injuries increased during the game with cornerback Cam Sutton ruled out with a hamstring injury and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi ruled out with a back injury.
Pickett went 34 of 52 for 327 yards and an interception, taking over the starting job from Mitch Trubisky.
The game went south for Pittsburgh in the first minute.
Allen, facing third and 10 from 2, waited patiently in the pocket and hit Davis in stride in midfield, the receiver having a step on Wallace and Tre Norwood. The 98-yard completion tied a team record set by Ryan Fitzpatrick’s TD at Terrell Owens in 2009.
Davis’ second touchdown catch was even more impressive as he brought the ball back with his right hand, before having it almost taken away by safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Davis then snatched the ball away in the middle of the end zone.
James Pierre of the Steelers missed his first kickoff return. Pierre was given the nod in place of Gunner Olzewski, who was scratched after having his own issues. PK Chris Boswell had a 29-yard field goal attempt but was wide left 33 and 45 yards.
The Steelers confirmed before the game that Watt underwent knee arthroscopy, which is expected to further delay his return while being sidelined with a pectoral injury. The team did not provide any further details except to confirm the report first published by ESPN on Saturday.
Watt was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season and has been sidelined since suffering the injury in a 23-20 overtime win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers are down to 0-4 without Watt in the roster this season and 0-8 overall.
Steelers: TE Pat Freiermuth suffered a concussion in the third quarter and did not return.
Bills: MLB Tremaine Edumunds (hamstring) did not play, although the Bills welcomed departing DT Ed Oliver, who missed three games with an ankle injury, and Jordan Phillips, who missed two games due to a hamstring injury.
Steelers: Host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Bills: To the Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s playoff rematch.