Case Keenum has replaced Josh Allen, who finishes the game with 424 and four touchdowns.
Bills vs. Steelers score, takeaways: Josh Allen-led Buffalo has huge day, spoiling Kenny Pickett's first start
Allen threw four touchdowns as Buffalo won in a rout
Sunday was a classic David vs. Goliath matchup in Buffalo. But unlike the biblical story, Goliath prevailed on Sunday, as the Bills posted a 38-3 victory over the Steelers, who entered the game as a 14-point underdog. The Bills are now 4-1 and remain in first place in the AFC East. The Steelers, who saw rookie Kenny Pickett make his first career start on Sunday, are now 1-4 after dropping their fourth straight contest.
Josh Allen threw four touchdown passes in the first half as the Bills roared out to a 31-3 halftime lead. He threw two touchdown passes to Gabe Davis that included a 98-yard touchdown on the third play from scrimmage. The score tied the record for the longest touchdown in franchise history.
Allen, who threw for 348 yards in the first half, also lobbed touchdowns to Stefon Diggs and rookie Khalil Shakir, as the Bills' offense churned out 401 yards in the first half and finished with 554 yards. Conversely, the Steelers' offense went dormant after scoring on their first drive. Pickett, who did not receive much help from his running game, threw for 327 yards and an interception on 34 of 51 passing.
Here's a closer look at what transpired in Buffalo.
Why the Bills won
Allen had a career game despite the absence of injured wideout Isaiah McKenzie. Allen threw for a career-high 424 yards before leaving the game after rookie James Cook's 24-yard touchdown run one minute into the fourth quarter. Davis caught three passes for 171 yards, while Diggs contributed with 102 yards. Shakir caught three passes for 75 yards after catching just two passes during the season's first four games.
Defensively, the Bills were able to successfully disguise their coverages. They made Najee Harris and the Steelers' running game a non-factor, as Pittsburgh rushed for just 54 yards on 17 carries. And Kaiir Elam, adding to the success of the Bills' rookies on Sunday, recorded his first career interception near the end of the first half.
With the win, Bills coach Sean McDermott now has the highest winning percentage in franchise history, surpassing Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy. McDermott has a .616 winning percentage since taking over as the Bills' coach in 2016. Levy posted a .615 winning percentage during his 11 years in Buffalo that included four consecutive Super Bowl berths.
Why the Steelers lost
Pittsburgh struggled in all three phases. The defense struggled to get off the field, failed to put pressure on Allen (who was pressured just one time), lost one-on-one matchups and did a subpar job in open field tackling. The offense was mostly unsuccessful on possession downs, did not make enough clutch plays and failed to make enough of the simple plays. It was a particularly rough outing for Dointae Johnson, whose third-down drop on fourth down ended Pittsburgh's drive of the second half.
The Steelers' special teams followed suit with a muffed kickoff in the first quarter and a missed field goal in the second and third quarters.
He missed some reads, but Pickett had a solid debut, given the challenge of facing the NFL's second-ranked scoring defense. Pickett had success getting the ball to rookie wideout George Pickens, who had 83 yards on six catches.
Sunday marked the Steelers' biggest loss in 33 years, since they fell 51-0 to the Browns in Week 1 of the 1989 season. Remarkable, after dropping a 41-10 game to the Bengals the next week, the Steelers make the playoffs that season for the final time under Hall of Fame coach Chuck Noll.
Pittsburgh still had a puncher's chance at making it a competitive game in the early stages of the second quarter. Levi Wallace, a former Bill who was burned by Davis on the 98-yard touchdown, picked off Allen in the end zone with the Steelers trailing 10-3.
Instead of capitalizing on the turnover, the Steelers' offense went three-and-out after Pickett's third-down completion to Harris was two yards shy of the sticks. Buffalo scored two plays later on Davis' 63-yard touchdown, stretching its lead to 14 points.
Play of the game
The 98-yard score was historic, but Davis' second touchdown was the more impressive play. On the play, Davis made a one-handed catch while wrestling the ball away from Pittsburgh safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.
"Was I satisfied with the effort? We just got smashed. Like, what are we talking about here guys?" -- Steeles coach Mike Tomlin following Sunday's loss
Pittsburgh will host an old rival, Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, next Sunday at Acrisure Staidum. The Steelers are 3-9 all-time against Brady that includes three AFC Championship Game defeats.
Speaking of rivals, the Bills will travel to Kansas City next week to face the Chiefs. Buffalo's last two seasons have ended in Kansas City in the AFC playoffs.
James Cook makes it a 38-3 game on a 24-yard TD by James Cook. That's the first rushing TD by a Bills RB this season.
Pat Freiermuth took a big shot and remains on the field. Freiermuth unfortunately sustained two concussions last season.
Bills fumble just inches shy of the goal line on their first drive of the second half. Cam Heyward forced the fumble, and the score remains 31-3 Bills.
First drive of the half ends with Diontae Johnson dropping Pickett's red zone pass on fourth-and-6.
Bills 31, Steelers 3 at halftime.
Josh Allen is the first QB to throw fro over 300 yards in the first half.
Boswell missed a FG on the Steelers' last drive, so the Steelers' deficit is still 24-3 at the two-minute warning.
Bills score again as Stefon Diggs finds the end zone. Bills take a 24-3 lead with 7:20 left until halftime. A personal foul on Myles Jack helped set up the score. Allen up to 276 yards and three touchdowns this half.
Three straight punts for the Steelers' offense. Pittsburgh's lack of a running game contributing to these punts. Najee Harris has just 17 yards on nine carries, with a long run of six yards.
Unreal TD catch for Gabe Davis on Bills next drive. Davis makes a one-handed grab from Allen and is able to keep it out of Fitzpatrick's grasp to secure the score. Bills now lead 17-3 with 9:29 left until halftime.
Levi Wallace picks off Allen's end zone pass to end the Bills' fourth drive. Wallace makes up for his TD allowed to Gabe Davis on the game's first place.
Steelers punt after Diontae Johnson fails to hold onto a third-down throw by Pickett. A questionable holding call on Zach Gentry a few plays later didn't help Pittsburgh's cause, either. The third-down throw was a little high but Johnson should have caught it.
Tyler Bass makes his second attempt, and the Bills take a 10-3 lead with 2:41 left in the opening quarter. A 31-yard pass from Allen to rookie Khalil Shakir set up the FG.
Steelers respond with a Chris Boswell field goal, so Bills lead 7-3 5:38 left in the first quarter. Pickett 5 of 7 for 44 yards on Pittsburgh's opening drive, with Pickens catching two passes for 24 yards.
This is not a clinic for special teams. Cam Sutton blocks Tyler Bass' 49-yard FG attempt following Pierre's muff, so score remains 7-0 Buffalo. A holding call on second down killed that drive while preventing the Bills from taking advantage of the game's first turnover.
BLOCKED!!!! 🚫— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 9, 2022
James Pierre muffs the punt, the Bills scoop it up and are in business at the 21-yard-line.
Gabe Davis goes 98 yards for a TD on the game's third play. Beats Levi Wallace, a former Bills teammate.