It simply wasn't enough.
On the anniversary of the Steelers last playoff win in 2017, the team fought valiantly in the second half, but it wasn't enough as the team fell to the Buffalo Bills by a score of 31-17, effectively ending their playoff run and the season.
The Steelers fell into a big deficit in the first half after surrendering two first-quarter touchdowns to Bills tight ends Dawson Knox and Dalton Kinkaid. In the second quarter, a huge defensive lapse led to an embarrassing 52-yard touchdown run by quarterback Josh Allen to increase the deficit to 21-0. The Steelers would gain some ground, and early in the fourth quarter, they would cut the deficit to just seven. Yet, penalties and costly mistakes would be their undoing on the ensuing series, leading to a 17-yard touchdown pass to Khalil Shakir that would increase the lead to 14.
Quarterback Mason Rudolph finished the game with a decent 229 passing yards on 22 completions and two touchdown passes, despite a poor start that featured a goal line interception. Pat Freiermuth, a tight end, had an strong showing, totaling 76 receiving yards on five grabs. Receiver Diontae Johnson would end the contest with 48 receiving yards and score his second career postseason touchdown.
On the ground, the duo of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren were effectively neutralized by the Bills defense, finishing the game with a combined 75 rushing yards.
On defense, the Steelers had a poor showing down the stretch, despite allowing just 189 net passing yards for the game. Linebacker Myles Jack's questionable roughing the passer penalty on Allen proved to be the moment from which the team could not recover. Linebacker Alex Highsmith was the team's standout on defense, with a sack and three tackles. Defensive back Eric Rowe would finish with eight tackles and a pass defensed. Lastly, linebacker Markus Golden, who came in as a replacement for All-Pro linebacker T.J. Watt, also finished the game with a sack and three tackles.
With the season coming to a finish, there are a lot of unanswered concerns about this club. The most significant one is Mike Tomlin's future as head coach. Many have conjectured that he might leave with one year remaining on his contract. Even while an extension has been discussed, there is no assurance as to what he will ultimately decide to do.
The scenario at quarterback for the team is the subject of the other query. In addition to proving himself to be a dependable quarterback, Rudolph might be a better fit than Kenny Pickett to start as quarterback for the team. Will the Steelers select a player this year to fill the role if Rudolph decides to enter free agency, or will they stick with Pickett as their starting quarterback?