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After further review: 'We're gonna keep coming'

Mike Tomlin applied the necessary "September" qualifier to his postgame analysis, but that didn't stop him from recognizing a potentially significant intangible in his Steelers.

"Hopefully, it's a sign of what we're capable of from a will standpoint," Tomlin offered after Steelers 23, Bills 16.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was both appreciative and apologetic in acknowledging the same (appreciative the will to win never faded into frustration, apologetic for twice using the "didn't blink" Tomlin-ism in assessing why it hadn't).

The stick-with-it-no-matter-what commitment the Steelers clung to in Buffalo had everything to do with their ability to wipe out a double-digit deficit with 20 unanswered points in the final 30 minutes.

That'll mean more down the road than it did on Sept. 12 should it prove to be something the Steelers can replicate when necessary.

Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 1 game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium

It was mandatory after the first two quarters produced 7 yards rushing, one third-down conversion, 53 total net yards and a 10-0 hole.

And it was all three phases that took it upon themselves to do something about it.

The special teams were the headliners.

Safety Miles Killebrew's blocked punt and Ulysees Gilbert III's scoop and score made up in spectacular fashion for hemorrhaging a 75-yard return of the opening kickoff.

The offense found a way to make just enough plays to get back in the game, eventually get the ball in the end zone and finally, grind clock while re-establishing a 10-point lead late. Running back Najee Harris, wide receiver Chase Claypool, wide receiver Diontae Johnson, statistically ineffective in the first two quarters, were among those taking turns making game-changing plays thereafter.

Even the defense turned it up as required.

It had allowed just one touchdown drive in the opening 30 minutes, even refusing to concede any more than three points after the game had begun on a 75-yard Buffalo splash play. But that one touchdown drive surrendered included the Bills extricating themselves from a first-and-20 deep in Buffalo territory and was completed 22 seconds before the break. It was a potential crusher, in other words.

The response was to come up with two stops on fourth down and allow just two field goals in the third and fourth quarters (the second of which was more cosmetic than it was critical to the final outcome) while repeatedly putting the offense and special teams in position to make difference-making contributions.

That's how you win a game in a hostile environment against a perceived contender despite losing the numerical battles for first downs (22-16), third-down conversions (44.4 percent-33.3 percent), total net yards (371-252) and time of possession (33:17-26:43).

Best of all, the comeback was a product of collective confidence more than it was someone channeling his inner Knute Rockne.

"Even when we gave up the touchdown in the first half, we were like, 'Damn, we were right there,'" defensive tackle Cam Heyward said. "We felt good about it. We were able to adjust and keep going."

Added Roethlisberger: "You come in at halftime, it wasn't like there was a big rah-rah. No one really spoke and acted crazy.

"It was just, 'OK, this is what we're going to do in the second half Let's go do it.'"

This is not, apparently, a team inclined to doubt itself.

"It's all about how you battle," insisted cornerback Cam Sutton, who had a couple of monster plays including a fourth-and-1 stop of running back Matt Breida for a 7-yard loss.

"Guys are going to catch the ball. Guys are gonna score touchdowns, whatever it is, but we're gonna keep coming."

There's more evidence to suggest they'll do that today than there was yesterday.

Wonder what they might be capable of tomorrow?

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