Pittsburgh Steelers: Studs and duds vs. Bills in Week 15

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Pittsburgh Steelers (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Steelers stuck with the Buffalo Bills for most of Sunday night’s game, but the offense couldn’t pull it together in the end.

The Pittsburgh Steelers stayed with the Buffalo Bills for most of Sunday night’s game thanks to their terrific defense, but Pittsburgh’s offense came up short. With the 17-10 defeat, the Steelers fell to 8-6 while the Bills advanced to 10-4, tightening their grip on the fifth seed in the AFC.

Luckily, the Tennessee Titans also lost, which means the Steelers keep the sixth seed for another week. While Pittsburgh played a close game, the defeat shows the limitations of the current squad. The defense is still great, but the offense is just a liability. If only Ben Roethlisberger was still leading that unit, the Steelers might be real Super Bowl contenders.

Anyway, let’s jump into the studs and duds from a disappointing Sunday night loss.

Stud: James Washington, WR

The second-year wide receiver was targeted 11 times on Sunday night. He made five receptions for 83 yards. Since the middle of the season, Washington is playing at a higher level. His rookie season was a total wash, but Washington looks like a legitimate second or third option right now.

The Oklahoma State product is averaging three receptions and 53.4 receiving yards per game this season. Since the start of Week 9, Washington is averaging 76 receiving yards per game. He’s been without JuJu Smith-Schuster for the last four weeks as well.

Washington’s sophomore leap is impressive. Hopefully, he can maintain the same level of production when Roethlisberger returns next season.

Dud: The running game

Here are some numbers, you tell me if these make any sense. James Conner, the Pro Bowl running back from last season, carried the ball just eight times last night. He averaged 5.3 yards per carry. Three other running backs recorded six combined carries, averaging less than one yard per carry. Why did Conner not carry the ball more?

Instead of giving the ball to Conner two dozen times, Pittsburgh elected to throw the ball with Devlin Hodges 38 times. The Steelers finished the game with 51 rushing yards on 15 attempts. That is a perfect example of short-sighted, poor game planning and management.

And for the love of all that is black and gold, stop running the wildcat! This isn’t the early 2010s. The team doesn’t have Ronnie Brown or Brad Smith. It’s a dead offensive formation that hasn’t produced success in over half a decade. There has to be something else Pittsburgh can run other than this sloppy play.

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