Little needs to be said, much yet to be done

Devlin Hodges is the quarterback, and, by default if not proclamation, a leader. But he didn't feel compelled to talk up his Steelers teammates in the wake of a four-interception performance and a bitter, 17-10 loss to the Bills.

"For my situation, it's kinda tough," Hodges acknowledged late Sunday night at Heinz Field. "It's my first year, undrafted. I had a lot of guys kind of come up to me, a lot of veterans.

"After a loss like that, it's kinda quiet. Everyone knows what's on everyone's mind. Not a whole lotta talkin' kinda needs to be done."

The setback dropped the Steelers to 8-6, but they emerged still in possession of the second wild card in the AFC playoff chase thanks to Tennessee's loss to Houston.

Momentum may have temporarily been broken after the Steelers' three-game winning streak had been snapped, but that wasn't an expressed concern in the immediate aftermath.

"Man, we got two games to get the momentum back," defensive tackle Cam Heyward said. "Time to start something new, and it starts in New York.

"It's not going to be easy. We're not expecting it to be easy. But comeback (today) ready to work and ready to get the job done."

WHAT WENT WRONG: The Steelers addressed a number of factors in the postmortem, including:

HOW WELL THE BILLS RAN THE BALL: Buffalo ended up with 130 yards on the ground on 38 attempts (3.4 yards per carry), including 87 on 21 carries by rookie running back Devlin Singletary (4.1) and 28 and a touchdown on seven rushes by quarterback Josh Allen (4.0).

The Steelers finished with 51 yards rushing on 15 carries (3.4), including 42 on eight attempts by running back James Conner (5.3), who played for the first time since Nov. 14 at Cleveland.

"We just gotta be able to get more stops, stop the run and try to make them more one-dimensional but we weren't really able to do that and play our game and pin our ears back," outside linebacker T.J. Watt said. "Credit to them, they're a really hard-nosed, gritty football team that was able to run the ball and they really were able to stick to it.

"We didn't dictate them throwing the ball and that's kinda of where it all went wrong."

TOO MANY TURNOVERS: The Steelers' lost a fumble in addition to Hodges' four interceptions. It was the second of those Hodges especially regretted.

He was off target for wide receiver Diontae Johnson on first-and-10 from the Buffalo 43 with 1:34 left in the third quarter. Cornerback Tra'Davious White's INT and 49-yard return ultimately set up a field goal for the Bills and a 10-10 tie early in the fourth quarter when the Steelers might otherwise have expanded what had been a 10-7 advantage.

"That was all on me, just threw it inside," Hodges said. "That's a sideline route, a catch, toe-tap and get out of bounds.

"I just left it inside, just a bad throw."

BUFFALO ROSE TO THE OCCASION: The Steelers trailed 7-3 late in the second quarter but faced a first-and-goal from the Buffalo 10 two minutes prior to halftime. The opportunity went awry when a "Wildcat" snap to Conner and a handoff to Johnson turned into a forced fumble by Bills defensive end Trent Murphy and a recovery by Bills safety Jordan Poyer.

"We have some responsibility," head coach Mike Tomlin assessed. "But when you have a group that played the way that group played you have to acknowledge that, particularly their defensive unit.

"They played really good football."

AN UNANTICIPATED TRIP TO BLITZBURG: The Bills sacked Hodges four times, hit him seven times and kept him either under duress or trying to escape the pocket for much of the night.

"They brought pressure a lot," wide receiver James Washington said.

Added Hodges: "I definitely think they brought a little bit more pressure than what, maybe, we anticipated."

Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 15 game against the Buffalo Bills at Heinz Field

AS ADVERTISED: The Bills came in at 9-4 and clinched a spot in the playoffs with their victory, one that wasn't secured until Buffalo was able to turn away Steelers' drives that reached the Bills' 23 with two minutes remaining, and the Buffalo 34 with 15 seconds left in regulation.

"That was a five-star matchup, like 'Coach T' (Tomlin) was saying," cornerback Joe Haden said. "Two teams trying to make the playoffs, really good teams."

The Steelers have work yet to do to reach the postseason.

"This one sucks," Haden continued. "We're gonna watch the tape, figure out the mistakes, how we can do better.

"We got the Jets next and then we got the Ravens. There's a lot of things that can happen. What we have to do now is make sure we win our next game, just control that and then we'll figure it out from there."