The Bills faced a notable step up in competition after their previous two victories in the Pittsburgh Steelers, but Buffalo hung tough after falling behind 13-0 at the half. They rallied to tie it early in the fourth and then came back and tied it a second time to even the game at 16 with just two seconds left in regulation on a 49-yard field goal by Rian Lindell to force overtime. In the end however, the Steelers prevailed getting a game-winning field goal from Shaun Suisham from 41 yards out with 2:14 left in overtime dropping the Bills to 2-9 on the season in a 19-16 final.
"There's no question about how we played, the effort and character of our football team I've said that 100 times," said head coach Chan Gailey. "But for us to get where we want to be as a football team we have to go win those kinds of games. You have to go win those games."
After an exchange of possessions, Buffalo's offense appeared to close the game out as Ryan Fitzpatrick hit a wide open Steve Johnson for what looked like a touchdown on a 1st-and-10 from the Steelers 40, but Johnson could not hang onto the pass. Three plays later the Bills had to punt again.
"It was a great call," said Johnson. "It was something that we knew we could beat them on. We ran it in the last game and I was pretty sure they thought I was going to run the over. I came to the back of the end zone and I had the game in my hands and then dropped it. And that's it."
Pittsburgh then plowed out tough yards on the ground on what proved to be their game-winning 13-play 58-yard drive for the victory, with Suisham kicking the winner. It was Buffalo's third loss in overtime this season.
"We fought so hard out there and yet again it's one of those overtime heartbreakers," said Fitzpatrick who threw for 265 yards with a touchdown and an interception. "There's not much to say right now other than the guys in the locker room myself included are hurting right now."
Down 16-13 Buffalo had a last ditch effort with 46 seconds left in regulation near midfield with no timeouts remaining. The Bills quickly moved 23 yards on six plays and Lindell hit his third field goal of the half from 49 yards out to force overtime.
Down 16-13 with six minutes to play, Buffalo got a solid return from Leodis McKelvin and a personal foul penalty by Pittsburgh gave the Bills a drive start at the Steelers' 44. Six plays later, facing a 2nd-and-7 at the Pittsburgh 12-yard line, Ryan Fitzpatrick's pass intended for Steve Johnson, deflected off the receiver's hands and Troy Polamalu intercepted the ball at his own one-yard line.
"Right when I turned my head to locate the ball it was there and it was a drop again, period," Johnson said.
"It was just a bang-bang play and it was tough," said Fitzpatrick. "Troy made a great play to get over there and get his hands under the ball. I thought he did a good job all day especially at at the end of the game."
The Buffalo defense played a solid game against a Pittsburgh offense that was coming off a 35-point effort the week before, and the Bills only stiffened come the second half. After a three-and-out got the ball back to their offense late in the third quarter leading to a field goal, they one-upped themselves.
Jairus Byrd stripped Rashard Mendenhall fighting for extra yardage at the Steelers 23 and recovered the fumble as well. The Steelers however, kept Buffalo out of the end zone forcing them to settle for a 32-yard Lindell field goal tying the score.
Pittsburgh answered with a field goal drive of their own. Ben Roethlisberger extended the drive with a mad 18-yard scramble on 3rd-and-17 to extend the possession. Four plays later however, a third down pass was dropped by Emmanuel Sanders and the Steelers had to take a 48-yard field goal from Shaun Suisham to re-take the lead 16-13 with 6:19 remaining.
It took until the latter stages of the third quarter for the Bills to climb back into the game with the Steelers. Down 13-0 at the half, Buffalo's offense finally got a big play on the fourth play of their second possession of the second half. On a 3rd-and-10 from their own 35, Ryan Fitzpatrick hit Fred Jackson, who was lined up in the slot, on a quick underneath pass, and Jackson outraced the secondary down the middle of the field for a 65-yard touchdown.
"It's a play that our line has run very well," said Gailey. "We ask David (Nelson) as he was coming in motion across to go try to get the guy covering Fred. The guard came out I think it was Andy Levitre did a great job coming out and picking off the guy that was over David and we had a clean shot up the middle. It looked like Stevie (Johnson) and Lee (Evans) were really hustling so Fred could score."
The long touchdown made it a one score game with 3:45 left in the third. Jackson finished the game with a career-high 104 receiving yards on five receptions.
After the Bills defense forced a three-and-out, Buffalo made the game all the tighter. Fitzpatrick spread the ball around hitting five different receivers on an 11-play 69-yard drive. A pass interference penalty on Keenan Lewis, set Buffalo up 1st-and-10 at the Steelers' 11.
The Bills however, could not get any closer to the goal line, as Fitzpatrick's first two pass attempts were deflected and fell incomplete. His attempt on 3rd-and-10 intended for Evans was knocked away forcing Buffalo to settle for a 29-yard field goal by Rian Lindell to make it a field goal game (13-10).
Buffalo's offense once again caught fire in the second half, with their first drive in the third quarter moving into Pittsburgh territory. But on a 1st-and-10 play at the Steelers 31, Lee Evans after making a nine-yard reception at the Pittsburgh 22 was stripped by Troy Polamalu before he went to the ground turning the ball over.
The Steelers came out flexing their ground game muscles early in the game as Rashard Mendenhall gained 35 yards on eight carries on the team's opening drive including a one-yard touchdown run to cap a 13-play possession to put Pittsburgh ahead early 7-0. Hines Ward's 3rd-and-8 reception for 21 yards was key to extending the drive and moved the Steelers into Buffalo territory before Pittsburgh stuck to the ground on the last six plays of the drive.
Buffalo's defense allowed Pittsburgh to convert their first six third down opportunities, but finally got a stop on a 3rd-and-15, that was precipitated by a play in the Steelers' backfield by Kyle Williams, who helped to drop Mendenhall for a five-yard loss to set up 3rd-and-15. Pittsburgh still got three points on their second drive however, as Shaun Suisham put a 45-yard attempt through the uprights for a 10-0 lead.
Converting third downs was a problem for Buffalo's offense in the first half as they went 0-for-3 on third downs and managed just 51 total net yards through the first two quarters and just over six minutes of possession time. They finished the game 4-for-13 on third down.
With less than 10 seconds remaining in the first half the Steelers would add another field goal to take a 13-0 lead to the locker room with Suisham hitting from 46-yards away, despite Buffalo's efforts to ice the Pittsburgh kicker calling a timeout right before his first attempt, which was also good.
Buffalo will be back on the road next Sunday as they close out their schedule against the NFC North this season with the Minnesota Vikings for a 1 pm kickoff.