After his team endured another bout of dropped passes in Week 13's loss to the Washington Football Team, Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin threatened to bench players who fail to "make routine plays routinely." On Sunday night, he did just that. Sputtering through a scoreless first quarter against the Buffalo Bills, the Steelers saw two different drives stalled by wide-open drops from receiver Diontae Johnson, so Tomlin proceeded to keep Johnson off the field entirely for consecutive series.
The 24-year-old Johnson has been one of the Steelers' top targets in the passing game, hauling in at least six passes in six of his last seven outings coming into Sunday night's AFC showdown. The second-year wideout also entered Week 14 leading the NFL in drops, however, with 10 coming into the Bills matchup, per The Athletic's Ed Bouchette. His early drops against Buffalo proved crucial as well, with one halting momentum on the Steelers' opening possession and another coming on third down with plenty of open field in front of him.
Reserve wideouts James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud began seeing additional reps on the outside in Johnson's absence against the Bills ahead of halftime. JuJu Smith-Schuster and rookie Chase Claypool served as the regulars out wide.