PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers spent three hours making Buffalo quarterback EJ Manuel look very much like the rookie he is.
Old times for a defense that has looked just plain old recently?
‘‘No,’’ safety Ryan Clark said. ‘‘We used to be much better than that.
‘‘It was a good day, though.’’
A welcome one, too, in a 23-10 romp Sunday.
A week after a historic blowout at the hands of the Patriots, the Steelers (3-6) went back to basics, ones that rarely change for a franchise that rarely changes. Run the ball. Get after the quarterback. Play with some menace.
The result was Pittsburgh’s most complete performance this season, one the Steelers insist still contains some cause for optimism.
‘‘I think we went out there and answered the call today,’’ linebacker LaMarr Woodley said. ‘‘We played like we’re always supposed to.’’
The Bills managed just 227 total yards, nearly 400 less than the Patriots gained in a 55-31 whipping of Pittsburgh a week ago. The Steelers sacked Manuel three times and allowed Buffalo to convert just 3 of 14 third downs.
Manuel completed 22 of 39 passes for 155 yards with a TD and an interception in his return after missing a month with a sprained right knee.
‘‘I felt good throughout the game,’’ Manuel said. ‘‘Obviously, there were plays that I missed, but I have to get better from there.’’
Pittsburgh limited the Bills (3-7) to 95 yards rushing as Buffalo’s backs found little room against a defense that came in ranked 31st in the league.
Ben Roethlisberger passed for 204 yards with a touchdown and an interception and Le’Veon Bell added 96 total yards and a score as Pittsburgh snapped a two-game losing streak. The Steelers, who came into the game 28th in the league in rushing, rolled up 136 yards and controlled the ball for more than 35 minutes.
‘‘We came in from the get-go wanting to run the ball and establish the run,’’ Bell said. ‘‘Buffalo had no opportunities to get back in the game.’’
The Bills had a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, but from there on out, it was all Pittsburgh.
The Steelers scored the next 23 points, going in front to stay when Roethlisberger ended an 86-yard march by finding Jerricho Cotchery with a 5-yard touchdown to make it 10-3 with 1:55 left in the first half.
‘‘We know we’re way better than what we did last week in New England,’’ rookie linebacker Jarvis Jones said. ‘‘We had to come out and respond and keep responding.’’