Following an Isaac Redman third down conversion and a 5 yard gain on first down, Roethlisberger looked for receiver Emmanuel Sanders deep twice, the second time bouncing the ball off of Sanders’ chest on a ball he likely should have had.
The Steelers defense relented on one first down on the next drive, but quickly shut the Bills down on the next sequence. On first down, LaMarr Woodley dropped into coverage after faking a rush and batted down a pass. On the next play, Hood and Cameron Heyward forced Fitzpatrick to pull the ball down, and linebacker Chris Carter, filling in for James Harrison, cleaned up with a sack. Pressure on third down forced yet another errant pass with cornerback Cortez Allen nearest to the ball.
The Steelers lost yardage on a third and one with Jonathan Dwyer as the tailback, but linebacker Lawrence Timmons redeemed the offense on the very next play, stripping the ball from running back C.J. Spiller, which bounced into the waiting arms of Hood. The offense was now set up in the redzone, and it took them 5 plays to convert the turnover into 7 points after Redman carried two defenders into the endzone on 3rd down, helped with a push by right guard Ramon Foster, who entered the game for DeCastro.
After Curtis Brown was beaten on third down on the Bills’ next drive, the Steelers ratcheted up the pressure, forcing a quick throw on first down, a throwaway on second, with Carter registering a quarterback hit, and a well-covered underneath pas that was well short of the first down marker.
After exchanging three and outs, the Bills were able to pin the Steelers back to the 2 yard line with some excellent special teams play. With under two minutes to go and one timeout, Roethlisberger was handed the keys to the offense, taking over the play calling with the no huddle.
Dwyer was nearly tackled in the endzone for a safety on the first play, and then a penalty set them back not even a yard from the goal line. On third down, however, Dwyer redeemed himself. With the offensive line providing a great pocket, Roethlisberger rifled through his read before finding Dwyer down the left sideline for 33 yards. Dwyer was forced to make an athletic adjustment to haul in the critical reception.
Taking advantage of the 4 man rush and the gassed defense, Roethlisberger subsequently went to work picking apart the Bills’ secondary. On the next play, he hit receiver Jerricho Cotchery near midfield, then again two plays later inside the 30 yard line. After miscommunication between Sander and Roethlisberger on first down, the pair connected on second down to strike within the redzone.
After a 6 yard pass to tight end Heath Miller and a Roethlisberger scramble set the Steelers up with first and goal and 18 seconds on the clock, the quarterback hit Antonio Brown for the score on a whip route to take a 14-7 halftime lead.
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