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Varsity & JV: Winners & losers from the Steelers wild card loss to the Bills

The final winners and losers of the 2023-24 season

AFC Wildcard Playoffs - Pittsburgh Steelers v Buffalo Bills Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

We have reached the end, my friends.

The Steelers were trumped by the Buffalo Bills 31-17 in the wild card round of the playoffs, marking the Steelers fifth consecutive playoff loss for Pittsburgh. Nevertheless, here are the varsity and JV performers from the Steelers’ final game of the 2023-24 season.

Varsity

QB Mason Rudolph

Save for one throw, Rudolph played really well, all things considered. He threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns, and helped the Steelers overcome a 21-0 deficit to get the game to 24-17 in the fourth quarter. We’ll see what the future holds for Rudolph, but he earned himself a lot of money over the last month.

WR Diontae Johnson

Johnson played his heart out. He was fighting for extra yards, and he was making the most of every touch. Johnson finished with four catches for 48 yards and a touchdown. In terms of pure never-say-die effort, I don’t recall seeing that level of energy from No. 18- I really liked seeing that.

EDGE Alex Highsmith

Highsmith played a really good game. He was constantly beating Dion Dawkins and making Josh Allen go off script. He recorded a sack and a tackle for loss and had an hit on Allen.

EDGE Markus Golden

Golden had the impossible task of trying to replace T.J. Watt, but he played well. He recorded a sack, a tackle for loss, and an additional hit on Josh Allen.

DT Montravius Adams

Adams blocked the field goal that set up the Diontae Johnson touchdown.

DL Larry Ogunjobi

Ogunjobi had five tackles and a tackle for loss in the game. For the most part, the Steelers depth up front actually played well, it was the guys behind them that really let them down defensively.

Junior-Varsity

P Pressley Harvin

That better have been Harvin’s final game as a Steeler. He had punts of 31, 42, and 30 yards- unacceptable.

LB Myles Jack

That was Jack’s worst game as a Steeler. Multiple costly penalties, and he was torched by Dalton Kincaid for the Bills’ second touchdown.

S/CB Patrick Peterson

There was obvious miscommunication between Peterson and Elandon Roberts on the first touchdown of the game, which was a pass to Dawson Knox who was wide open in the end zone. Not a good day at all from No. 20.

WR George Pickens

For George Pickens to blame the officials after losing by two scores, and after he fumbled to set up an immediate Bills touchdown really doesn’t sit right with me. He has a lot of growing up to do.

Run blocking

Pittsburgh couldn’t establish a run-game early. It was evident that the Bills’ gameplan was to make the Steelers beat them through the air, and it was a smart plan. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren ran for a combined 75 yards on 20 carries, neither of them breaking off a run longer than 12 yards.

Tackling

It would take way too long to lump in every Steelers player who decided not to tackle, so we’ll just make this its own category. Multiple players made business decisions and didn’t try bringing down Josh Allen. Minkah Fitzpatrick didn’t finish a tackle on Khalil Shakir that led to the dagger touchdown. It was an embarrassing effort from the defense.

I think there was a respectable amount of guys who showed up and played every down as hard as humanly possible. The bad showings, though, obviously outweighed the good, especially when you get in a 21-0 hole early.