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Bills hold off Steelers, secure rare playoff berth

By
Alex Butler
Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White (27) had two interceptions in a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday in Pittsburgh. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI
Buffalo Bills cornerback Tre'Davious White (27) had two interceptions in a win against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday in Pittsburgh. Photo by Archie Carpenter/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 16 (UPI) -- The Buffalo Bills are headed to the playoffs for just the second time since 1999 after holding off the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 15.

Buffalo's defense held the Patriots to 229 total yards and had four sacks in the 17-10 win Sunday at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. The Bills trailed 10-7 before scoring 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to move to 10-4 on the season.

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"Obviously coach preaches playoff caliber and that's the standard we kind of hold ourselves to," Bills quarterback Josh Allen told reporters. "The goal is to get yourself in position to have a shot at the Super Bowl and that's to get into the playoffs. So, we have done that."

Neither offense could score in the first quarter. Allen then led a nine-play, 40-yard scoring drive at the start of the second quarter. Allen scored a one-yard rushing touchdown at the end of the drive, giving the Bills a 7-0 lead. Pittsburgh answered with a 49-yard Chris Boswell field goal on their next drive and the score stayed 7-3 through halftime.

The Steelers opened the second half with a seven-play, 69-yard drive, capped off with an 11-yard receiving touchdown by James Conner.

The Bills began their rally at the end of the third quarter when Tre'Davious White intercepted Steelers quarterback Delvin Hodges at the Pittsburgh 18-yard line. The Bills added points seven plays later, with kicker Stephen Hauschka hitting a 36-yard attempt at the start of the fourth frame.

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The Bills added the game-winning touchdown on their next possession, with Allen leading a six-play, 70-yard scoring drive. Allen ended the drive with a 14-yard touchdown toss to tight end Tyler Kroft.

Jordan Poyer and Levi Wallace intercepted Hodges on each of the Steelers' final two possessions, sealing the victory for Buffalo.

After the game, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin would not say if Hodges would be the team's starting quarterback in Week 16.

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"This one is gone. We lived it," Tomlin said of the loss. "There is scarcity in this business. You only get so many opportunities to state a case for yourself. There are no seven-game series and things of that nature. We respect what transpired tonight. We understand it. There is nothing we can do as we sit here but get focused on our next opportunity. We will do that, I promise you that."

White had two interceptions in the win. Jordan Phillips had two sacks for the Bills. Allen completed 13 of 25 passes for 139 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He also had seven carries for 28 yards and a score for the Bills. Hodges completed 23 of 38 passes for 202 yards, one score and four interceptions in the loss.

"We knew it was going to be a tough game," Bills coach Sean McDermott said. "And give credit to the Steelers. They gave us a heck of a battle. Well-coached football team and led by [Tomlin]. So, we made the plays when we needed to make them, and I thought it was a real great -- a real good effort, gritty effort by the guys."

The Bills face the New England Patriots at 4:30 p.m. EST Saturday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The Steelers battle the New York Jets at 1 p.m. EST Sunday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

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