By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports activities Author
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers’ new-look offense overcame a gradual begin, Ulysees Gilbert returned a blocked punt 9 yards for a landing and Pittsburgh rallied to a season-opening 23-16 win over the Buffalo Payments on Sunday.
Down 10-0, the Steelers scored on every of their first 4 possessions of the second half, with Roethlisberger placing Pittsburgh forward for good by lobbing a 5-yard landing move to Dionte Johnson within the left nook of the tip zone.
The move initially went off Johnson’s fingertips, however the receiver was capable of safe the ball earlier than tumbling out of bounds 3:41 into the fourth quarter. The Steelers then prolonged their result in 20-10 some 90 seconds later with Miles Killebrew bursting up the center to dam Matt Haack’s punt, with Gilbert scooping up the free ball and operating it in untouched.
In opening his 18th — and maybe remaining — season, Roethlisberger posted his thirty sixth profession fourth-quarter comeback to tie Drew Brees for third on the NFL checklist. He completed 18 of 32 for 188 yards and a landing.
Chris Boswell hit all three field-goal makes an attempt, together with a game-sealing 45-yarder with 2:42 remaining.
The Steelers defeated the Payments after dropping to them in every of the previous two seasons — each instances in primetime.
In a matchup of defending AFC division champs, the Payments produced a dud following an offseason during which many pegged them as Tremendous Bowl contenders.
Buffalo’s Allen-led dynamic offense sputtered in resembling nothing of the aggressive unit which set quite a few scoring and passing information final 12 months. Allen completed 30 of 51 for 270 yards with a 3-yard landing move to Gabriel Davis.
The Payments in any other case settled for Tyler Bass hitting three area targets and, worse nonetheless, didn’t convert consecutive fourth-down alternatives to open the second half.
Give the Steelers protection credit score for conserving them within the recreation.
Gilbert’s landing got here when the Payments had been compelled to punt following a three-and-out during which James Pierre punched the ball out of the arms of Emmanuel Sanders to stop a 20-yard catch on second down, and T.J. Watt adopted by sacking Allen for a 6-yard loss.
Watt actually made his presence felt three days after changing into the NFL’s top-paid defensive participant by signing a four-year, $112 million contract extension. He sacked Allen within the second quarter and compelled a fumble by chasing the quarterback down from behind on third-and-13 on the Pittsburgh 41.
Roethlisberger overcame a gradual begin underneath Steelers new offensive coordinator Matt Canada. Pittsburgh mixed for simply three first downs and 54 internet yards on its six possessions within the first half. Rookie first-round draft choose, operating again Najee Harris, had 7 yards on eight carries within the first half, and completed with 45 yards on 16 carries.
The Payments scored on their opening possession with Bass hitting a 37-yard area purpose, which was arrange by Isaiah McKenzie’s 75-yard kickoff return.
Buffalo didn’t rating once more till its remaining possession of the half, during which Allen capped a 13-play, 91-yard drive with a 3-yard landing move to Davis. Dealing with third-and-goal, Allen threaded an ideal move in hitting Davis in stride, and a step forward of defender Cameron Sutton.
Watt obtained his 18th profession compelled fumble, which is essentially the most within the NFL since he was drafted in 2017. Watt additionally upped his sack whole to 51 1/2.
Killebrew’s blocked punt was Pittsburgh’s first since Roosevelt Nix towards Atlanta in 2018. Gilbert’s TD return off a blocked punt was Pittsburgh’s first since Payments present particular teamer Tyler Matakevich scored towards Cleveland in 2017.
Steelers: House opener towards Las Vegas Raiders on Sept. 19.
Payments: At Miami Dolphins on Sept. 19.
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