Week after week, our gang of scribes have "stuck a fork" in teams we don't think can make the playoffs. After Sunday's 23-10 stomping by Pittsburgh, we're adding Buffalo to the list of teams treading into the abyss.
Here's what else we learned:
- EJ Manuel looked dangerously rusty on a first-quarter pass to Stevie Johnson in the end zone that was off by at least 10 yards. It's been a long season for Bills receivers after seeing no less than three starting passers in the lineup. Buffalo had good field position on its first three possessions, but Manuel's accuracy issues raise larger questions.
- Pittsburgh's defense played with pride after giving up 55 points last week to New England. Dick LeBeau is 18-2 with the Steelers against rookie quarterbacks and made it look easy Sunday, controlling the Bills all day. After converting a field goal on its opening drive, Buffalo punted seven straight times, a streak ended only by Ryan Clark's interception of Manuel in the fourth.
- The Steelers' offensive tackles were a disaster against the Patriots, and they didn't play well against Buffalo's pass rush either. Big Ben was dropped four times and knocked around all day. Pittsburgh's pocket regularly collapses around Roethlisberger from both sides. His escapability is among the best in the NFL, but he's getting no help.
- Antonio Brown was benched a week ago against the Patriots, but he remains Big Ben's favorite target and had an outstanding afternoon, hauling in six catches for 104 yards and reeling off a big 50-yard punt return late in the fourth. Brown carved up Buffalo's secondary with wise route adjustments and yardage after the catch.
- Steelers back Le'Veon Bellrumbled in for a third-quarter touchdown on a drive that should have ended in a field goal. With Pittsburgh lining up for the kick on fourth-and-4, Buffalo was flagged for encroachment, giving the Steelers first-and-goal from the 6. A four-point penalty that helped thrust the Bills into irrelevance.