PITTSBURGH, Penn. (WROC) — If the NFL had a wild card play in game like Major League Baseball, this Sunday night game would have been it.
(Ok, it would have been in Buffalo instead of Pittsburgh, but no need to niggle me about details.)
Due respect to the Ryan Tannehill-led reborn Titans … I think the Steelers and the Bills are the two best non division leaders in the AFC.
They’re pretty similar teams, too. Both are built on elite defenses. Both have good coaching with strong culture as a foundation. Both have offenses that can make plays, but the priority for both is just not to screw things up.
Except the Bills are little better.
That’s been the theme for this Buffalo season. Most games they win, they’re just a little bit better. Against the Washington’s and Miami’s, that’s a criticism. Sunday night, it wasn’t.
The Bills have maintained all year it shouldn’t EVER be a negative. I don’t agree, but I can see their point. The NFL is littered with close games. The yearbook pages from many 5-11 seasons are soaked with the tears of “they lost six games by less than a touchdown” or “they led in the 4th quarter eight times”.
The Steelers aren’t a 5-11 team. There’s an excellent chance they’ll have a road trip for Wild Card weekend, same as the Bills.
On Sunday night however, the divide between the teams grew larger as the game wore on.
The Bills capitalized on their first half short field and scored a touchdown. The Steelers fumbled their chance away.
The Bills turned one of their turnovers into a game tying field goal. The Steelers couldn’t even get a first down (without a Bills penalty) after their turnovers.
The Bills finished their fourth quarter drive with a touchdown. The Steelers kept throwing interceptions.
Sean McDermott has his team repeating this formula week after week. At some point, it must be acknowledged as not simply a coincidence. Ten times in 14 weeks sounds about right. This is now a Bills skill.
Sure, there’s been some good fortune. The schedule, injuries, etc. However, the Bills keep making the plays that decide games in the fourth quarter. They keep shutting down offenses. They keep finding ways to win.
This isn’t 2017. The Bills didn’t slide into the playoffs on the back of a miracle hundreds of miles away.
They earned the right to be in the postseason. Needing only 14 games to clinch pounds that point home at a sledgehammer level.