The Steelers Lost to the Bills Partly Because of Dancing

The Buffalo Bills are better than they’ve been in years. Quarterback Josh Allen is turning the franchise into one of the more fascinating NFL stories. But in their winning effort against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bills’ defense made the biggest impression. The secret to their explosive showing? The pre-game antics of JuJu Smith-Schuster, who went out of his way to set exactly the wrong tone for his Steelers to come out on top.

How the Bills took on the seemingly unstoppable Steelers

Andre Roberts of the Buffalo Bills runs with the ball
Andre Roberts of the Buffalo Bills runs with the ball | Bryan Bennett/Getty Images

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The Bills had some momentum before facing the Steelers. They walked over the Chargers and won solidly against the San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile, the Steelers had just dashed their undefeated run against the Washington Football Team in a major upset. That followed a baffling turn of events the week before when a COVID-19 depleted Baltimore Ravens nearly ran away with a win.

In the first half, the New York Times reports, the Steelers managed to keep Allen’s passing to a minimum. The Bills were held to just 102 yards at the half. It was a defensive touchdown that set the tone, instead — more on that later. By the back half of the game, though, the Steelers were unable to hold back the tide any longer.

Allen went on an 11/11 passing streak in the second half. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs became a top target and earned that trust repeatedly. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, something curious was happening to what had been a seemingly unstoppable force.

The Bills’ defense got extra motivation from a now-infamous pre-game dance

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The Bills’ defense has been competitive all year. Against the Steelers, though, their dominance was shocking. We can look at the stats — and we will — but there could be a more emotional explanation to why they completely choked out Ben Roethlisberger and company to the extent that they did.

Smith-Schuster returned to a curious tradition of his before the game. Fox Sports reports that he walked out onto the field before the game and danced right in the middle of the Bills’ logo on the field. The Bills squad did not miss this slight. “I ain’t going to lie. Seeing them dancing on our logo pre-game and seeing all that, that turns you up a little bit,” Bills defensive back Jordan Poyer later said, Syracuse.com reports.

That annoyance crystallized into something more concrete than mere feelings. The Bills held the Steelers on third downs almost entirely, allowing just 1-for-10, according to CBS Sports. Pittsburgh totaled just 224 yards. Roethlisberger was held to a season-low 56.76% completion rate. Smith-Schuster’s antics clearly weren’t worth the trouble.

Juju Smith-Schuster needs to stop dancing if the Steelers want to win their division

Smith-Schuster, who insists that his dancing isn’t meant to be disrespectful, decided to do it all over again against the mostly hapless Cincinnati Bengals. It turned out to be his last dance for the foreseeable future. The Bengals dealt Pittsburgh fans an even bigger blow than the Washington Football Team loss, making the Steelers their third victim of the season.

That finally stuck a fork in Smith-Schuster’s dancing habit. Behind the Steel Curtain reports that Steelers fans rejoiced when the dancing routine was officially put to bed. The Steelers took out the Indianapolis Colts, ending the sudden losing streak that marred their previously perfect season. It’s hard to imagine a simple dance leading to much of anything real on the field, but hey: the 2020 Bengals managed to beat the 2020 Steelers. That’s the kind of magic that shouldn’t be messed around with.