The Buffalo Bills won their tenth game of the season for the first time since 1999 on Sunday by defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-10. It was a tale of two defenses Sunday as both teams had major swing plays throughout the course of the game. As a result, what we have is a game that saw six lead changes in win probability, and one of the Bills’ most exciting victories of the season. Lets take a look at the slugfest that was Week 15.
The Steelers came into the game with a 55.89% win probability despite having fewer wins and Devlin Hodges at quarterback. The Bills received the ball to start the game and ended up punting after a seven-play, 28-yard drive—leaving Buffalo at a 44.05% win probability after the first drive.
The play that put Buffalo on its first significant probability incline came on Tre’Davious White’s first of two interceptions on the night. While it was only a 1.24% swing the interception halted what was a 58-yard drive for Pittsburgh. With the Bills on their own 25-yard line, the Steelers defense forced the Bills to punt, with Corey Bojorquez pinning Pittsburgh inside its own 20-yard line.
The Bills managed to force Pittsburgh into a three-and-out and took their first probability lead of the night on the following drive. Buffalo drove 40 yards in nine plays and capped off the drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Josh Allen. The Bills climbed the probability chart by a total of 10.57% throughout that drive and ended it at a 60.55% chance of winning.
The next probability lead change came on an interception by Josh Allen late in the second quarter. The play gave the Steelers a huge swing at +13.80% and put the odds back in their favor.
Forty-three seconds later the Bills regained the win probability in a big way after a James Conner fumble with two minutes left in the first half. The play brought Buffalo to a 62.65% chance of winning as the Bills maintained that lead going into halftime.
After a stagnant first half by both offenses, Pittsburgh came out swinging on the first drive of the second half, going on a nice seven-play, 69-yard touchdown drive. After an 11-yard touchdown pass from Devlin Hodges to James Conner, the Steelers took their second lead of the night in the win probability—bringing Buffalo down to a 40.03% win probability.
Making matters worse, Devin Singletary fumbled on the ensuing drive. The fumble was a clear momentum shift not only in the probability, but visibly. T.J Watt continued his defensive player of the year campaign by forcing the fumble and backing Buffalo into a 33.87% probability hole.
After a successful defensive stand by the Bills on the next drive and -3 yards drive on Buffalo’s ensuing offensive drive, Tre White made what was probably the play of the game and gave Buffalo its third lead in win probability of the night and swung the Bills a massive 27.16%. The interception led to a Stephen Hauschka field goal that tied the game at 10 heading into the fourth quarter.
After forcing a three-and-out on the Steelers’ following drive and with Styx’s “Renegade” playing throughout the stadium, Josh Allen and John Brown rose to the occasion and put the Bills in the driver’s seat once and for all. Allen completed a 40-yard pass to Brown to bring Buffalo deep into Steelers territory. From that point on the Bills scored a TD and continued to climb the probability chart, picking off Devlin Hodges on two of the Steelers’ final three drives to secure the Bills a playoff spot.
Buffalo heads to Foxborough next week in a rematch from Week 4 that’s sure to be a knock-down, drag-out fight between division rivals. I stated earlier in the year that my hope for the Bills was to see them playing meaningful football in December. With two weeks left Buffalo has punched its ticket to the playoffs and is looking for more. To quote Bruce Smith “How sweet it is.”