ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WKBW) — Earlier this season, the Bills defense struggled mightily. They allowed 28 points to the Miami Dolphins. They gave up 42 to the Tennessee Titans. Week after week, it just seemed like they couldn't put it together.
Well, now they have. And they know it.
"As the season continues to go on, we continue to elevate," cornerback Tre'Davious White said. "We know what success feels like, and we know how to handle it now."
"I feel like we're still climbing, and yeah you want to play your best ball in December," safety Jordan Poyer said. "We've still got a couple games left to continue to prove that."
The proof was on display for the entire country on Sunday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In their 26-15 win, the Bills had a defensive touchdown and two interceptions. They also forced five three-and-outs against the league's seventh-best scoring offense.
"Anytime you can take the ball away and then score is a big time play for sure. It's the boost of confidence we needed," White said. "If the offense isn't going, it's on us. It's on the defense to get those stops and give those guys the ball back."
Taron Johnson's pick six was the first defensive score for Buffalo in nearly three seasons. It was also the Bills' first touchdown of the game. After that score just a minute before halftime, they never trailed the rest of the way.
"He's one of the best nickel corners in the league... he made a great play," cornerback Levi Wallace said. "What Sean talks about all the time is complementary football. And it energizes the whole team. Now on defense we're not just trying to get picks, we're trying to get touchdowns."
Later in the game, Wallace got an interception of his own. It marks the second straight season that the undrafted Alabama product came up with a big pick against the Steelers. It may be the highlight of Wallace's relatively down year as he's battled injuries and fought for playing time.
"I was just trying to make a play, for real. You know, [Jordan] Poyer's always talking about how big time players make big time plays in big time moments," Wallace said.
"And he did that today!" Poyer interjected over Zoom.
With an 11-point lead and over 7 minutes left on the clock, it might not have been thought about as the play to ice the game. But the offense ground out the rest of the clock and finished off their portion of complementary football with an exclamation point.
"Anytime you can just sit back and watch your offense go to work, that's the greatest feeling. You've been out there all day going to battle, and you don't have to go back out there," White said. "That's how we know the team is getting better. Those type of things don't show up on the stat sheet, but that's a big time statement."
It was a statement game for both sides of the ball in Orchard Park on Sunday night. In a season that's been defined by Josh Allen, Stefon Diggs, and the passing game, the defense has finally turned a corner at the perfect time.
"It's been really tough for us because we have a set amount of time that we can be in the building," defensive end Jerry Hughes said. "Coach McDermott and Coach Frazier have always preached it's not about how you play football in September, it's how you play in December."
The spotlight will continue to shine brightly on the Bills in the final month of 2020. Their next game is on Saturday the 19th against the Denver Broncos. Coverage on 7ABC begins at 4:00 p.m. with Leading the Charge.