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Takeaways: Lots of praise to go around after huge Buffalo Bills win over Pittsburgh Steelers

That was a different team.

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 26-15 on Sunday Night Football, pushing their record to 10-3. It wasn’t pretty from start to finish, but the Bills made some in-game adjustments to put themselves over the top and Pittsburgh could not answer the bell. Buffalo has a statement win folks and if they play the way they were in the second half tonight, they can win every week.

Here are my takeaways from the game.

In-game offensive turnaround is a nice addition

The Bills switched to more protection in the second half after Pittsburgh’s interior defensive line had their way in the first half. It allowed Josh Allen to find receivers (namely, Stefon Diggs) further down the field and let them do damage against zone defense. Josh Allen with a clean pocket was so much different. They made Cameron Heyward a focus after he was super disruptive, and it worked. The Bills have made their living jumping out to early leads, but the ability to adjust is something we haven’t seen a lot and it’s very encouraging.

Darryl Williams appreciation headline

T.J. Watt has been a one-man wrecking crew in the league this year, leading the NFL in sacks heading into the week. Williams had one false start early in the game and was called for holding in the fourth, but he had a good day playing mostly one-on-one against the 2019 All-Pro. Props. (He’s a free agent at the end of the year.)

The defense is rounding into form at the right time

We said it against the San Francisco 49ers last week but against a future Hall of Famer, it rings differently. The Bills’ defense is playing so much better as the season wears on. On Sunday night, they held Pittsburgh to 224 yards and the Steelers were 1-of-10 on third down. The Bills added two interceptions including a pick-six to jump start the scoring near the end of the second quarter. Ben Roethlisberger was held to 5.1 yards per attempt and a 65.9 passer rating.

What a game-clinching drive

The Bills got the ball back with 7:11 left in the game. Josh Allen had a nice scramble called back for a holding penalty, so it’s 1st-and-20. They get nine yards on first down and a deep bomb fell incomplete. A three-and-out is bad. Allen lobs it to Dawson Knox who gets a first down. Four Zack Moss runs, an Allen QB sneak, a Moss run, an Allen bootleg, and a Moss run led to the Victory formation. After starting on their own 29, they marched down the field while killing clock to put away the game. It was outstanding.

First quarter was ugly

It was tied 0-0 with Pittsburgh finishing with 58 yards to Buffalo’s 36. Not what we are used to with the Bills. Josh Allen had an interception while going 4/10 for 22 yards. Buffalo was 0-2 on third downs, but had one converted via penalty very late. There were seven combined punts. The game picked up after that, but it was not pretty.

Dawson Knox is not the answer at TE

Knox dropped a long pass from Josh Allen in the second quarter. On the next play, Allen again hit Knox who secured it, had it knocked loose, then tipped it back up into the air before it was plucked out of the air by the Steelers for a fumble recovery. Knox has had such a bad case of the drops this year. With Tyler Kroft inactive, the Bills are clearly trying to get a read on the younger TE. It’s clear he isn’t the guy going forward and they need to go back to the drawing board. He could still develop into a serviceable player, but the Bills can’t bank on it.