Steelers at Bills score: Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs cruise past Pittsburgh in win with big playoff implications

The Pittsburgh Steelers may boast one of the NFL's top defenses, but their vaunted unit had no answers for Stefon Diggs on Sunday night. Limited on the scoreboard early amid a defensively geared slug-fest, the Steelers saw the big-play wide receiver serve as Josh Allen's go-to from start to finish in Week 14's anticipated AFC showdown. When they had the ball, meanwhile, things weren't nearly as smooth, with Diontae Johnson earning a trip to the bench and Ben Roethlisberger turning the ball over twice amid a consistent push from the Bills' front seven. In the end, Allen and Co. came out on top, securing a 26-15 Bills win to improve to 10-3 and remain comfortably atop the AFC East.

Sunday night's decision marks the second straight defeat for the Steelers, who opened the season 11-0 before falling to Washington Football Team in Week 13. Pittsburgh remains in first place atop the AFC North, though the second-place Cleveland Browns (9-3) will have a chance to pull within one game of the lead on Monday night.

Here are some instant takeaways from Sunday's Bills victory:

Why the Bills won

They might have the best quarterback-wide receiver connection this side of Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill. If it sounds nuts, just consider how easily Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs teamed up to shred the vaunted defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mike Tomlin's group was down Joe Haden, yes, but still -- 10 catches for 130 yards and a score doesn't even do Diggs justice for the way he consistently found wide-open space and made life easier on Allen. The Bills QB was a joy to watch in his own right, dodging Pittsburgh's front-seven assault to play a mostly clean game with huge playoff implications.

Oh, and Buffalo's own defense? Killer when it needed to be. Levi Wallace and Taron Johnson both had big plays on the ball, Tre'Davious White was predictably feisty on the outside, and the line actually kept Ben Roethlisberger under pressure for most of the night. A total team victory here.

Why the Steelers lost

Dink-and-dunk offense -- with receivers who may or may not catch the ball, by the way -- tends to work better when you're ahead in the game. The Steelers happened to fall into a deep hole, however, losing an early 7-0 advantage and trailing 23-7 midway through the third quarter. By that point, Diontae Johnson's drops, endless short-of-the-sticks routes and a dead-on-arrival ground game had already doomed Pittsburgh's offensive efforts. Ben Roethlisberger wasn't horrible, but he wasn't great, either, spending more time eluding stuffy pockets than airing the ball downfield. 

On "D," sans Joe Haden, the Steelers successfully pushed Josh Allen out of the pocket a few times, but that was about it, failing to contain Diggs and surrendering some key Devin Singletary runs as well.

Turning point

Second down. Steelers' ball. Fifty-two seconds to go in the first half. Pittsburgh was leading 7-3 at the time, with a chance to extend that advantage going into the break. But then Taron Johnson made a perfect break on Roethlisberger's short pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster and muscled his way into a pick, returning the interception an easy 51 yards for the score. Not only did the TD give the Bills a permanent lead, but it completely flipped the first-half script in favor of Buffalo.

Play of the game

It had to be Taron Johnson's pick-six -- a perfectly executed swipe of Big Ben's pass, and a game-changer of a score:

What's next

The Bills (10-3) will have a short week to prepare for the Denver Broncos (5-8), who just beat the Panthers and will host a Saturday afternoon matchup. The Steelers (11-2) will be back in prime time on Monday night, Dec. 21, when they visit the rival Cincinnati Bengals (2-10-1), who are fresh off a blowout loss to the Cowboys.

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BUF -2, O/U 48.5

Season Leaders

passing
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M. Trubisky569 YD, 2 TDS, 1 INT
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M. Trubisky569 YD, 2 TDS, 1 INT
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J. Allen1014 YD, 9 TDS, 2 INTS
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J. Allen1014 YD, 9 TDS, 2 INTS
rushing
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N. Harris40 ATT, 128 YD, 1 TD
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N. Harris40 ATT, 128 YD, 1 TD
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J. Allen19 ATT, 113 YD, 1 TD
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J. Allen19 ATT, 113 YD, 1 TD
receiving
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D. Johnson21 REC, 196 YD
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D. Johnson21 REC, 196 YD
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S. Diggs27 REC, 344 YD, 4 TDS
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S. Diggs27 REC, 344 YD, 4 TDS
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With Miami's loss to the Chiefs today, by the way, the Bills have a full two-game lead in the division. They're set up very well for the playoff push down the stretch.

December 14, 2020, 4:28 AM
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I think Josh Allen ended up sliding just short of the first down line right there.

December 14, 2020, 4:26 AM
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This is gonna be a really nice win for the Bills, assuming they can hang on. They'll move to 10-3 and maintain first place in the AFC East and the No. 3 seed in the conference. They'll be only a game back of the Steelers, who will drop to 11-2 and fall out of first. That puts the Chiefs in the driver's seat.

December 14, 2020, 4:24 AM
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Nice job by Dawson Knox getting the fake chip on the blitz and sneaking out into the flat to pick up the first down. Buffalo keeping the clock moving, which is all that matters right now.

December 14, 2020, 4:20 AM
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Allen has had a few near-misses on some deep balls tonight. That's another one right there, though the window was very tight.

December 14, 2020, 4:18 AM
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Levi Wallace comes up with a HUGE play on the deep ball. Makes amends for allowing the TD to Washington earlier.

December 14, 2020, 4:13 AM
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Wow. What an adjustment by Levi Wallace on that interception. Might end up being the turning point of the late stages of this game. Big Ben's second pick of the night, and a huge one for the Bills defense.

December 14, 2020, 4:13 AM
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The Steelers need to get moving really quickly here. Down two scores with about 8 minutes left. And while it seems like they just need a touchdown and a field goal, don't forget about the two-point conversation. They might need two TDs if they don't convert.

December 14, 2020, 4:10 AM
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@steelers via Twitter
December 14, 2020, 4:07 AM
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Ah, I missed the down. Obviously decline to force the field goal.

December 14, 2020, 4:06 AM
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Interesting choice for the Steelers here: third-and-goal from the 5 or second-and-goal from the 15? Probably want to move the Bills back, but they also are fighting against the clock.

December 14, 2020, 4:05 AM
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Mike Hilton has to practically take out Dawson Knox on the deep ball to stop a surefire touchdown. Allen has been excellent all year throwing on the run to his right, and that was another beautifully-thrown pass right there.

December 14, 2020, 4:01 AM
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Oh man Josh Allen is going to regret that one. Davis running wide open behind the defense and he overshot his target.

December 14, 2020, 3:57 AM
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Defensive holding on Matt Milano helps keep that Steelers drive alive in the red zone. Pittsburgh capitalizes. We've got ourselves a ballgame after Big Ben finds Eric Ebron for the two-point conversion to make this a one-score deficit.

December 14, 2020, 3:53 AM
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@BuffaloBills via Twitter
December 14, 2020, 3:52 AM
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Pick route gets JuJu into open space for the TD. Very nice job by James Washington to draw the two defenders together and get them to bump into each other.

December 14, 2020, 3:51 AM
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Diontae Johnson working over Tre White right there. Nice catch-and-run to get the Steelers into scoring position.

December 14, 2020, 3:49 AM
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Fourth quarter under way here in a huge game for the AFC standings. If Pittsburgh loses again, KC has the inside track on the No. 1 seed. And Buffalo would be within just a game, and with the tiebreaker to take over the No. 2 if they end the year with the same record.

December 14, 2020, 3:47 AM
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