The Cincinnati Bengals are going to win the AFC North. We knew that coming into Sunday’s second meeting between the Steelers and Bengals. It’s a matter of when, not if. But, the Steelers held off the celebration, and showed them, as well as anyone else who was watching, that it’s still their division. And, that come playoff time, you don’t want to see the black and yellow.
The 33-20 victory by Pittsburgh extended their franchise record of consecutive games scoring 30+ point to 5 games. Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers offense came out on fire. On the opening drive, #7 was 5/5 for 67 yards (he completed his first 9 passes on the day), and the O converted 3/3 on third down (7/10 in 1st half), before finishing the drive with a 1 yard DeAngelo Williams touchdown. It was a tone setting drive, that said “We’re here, this is what we’re going to do…whatcha gonna do about it?!”
The offense manage 354 total yards, and held the ball for 35:47 to the Bengals 24:13. Roethlisberger finished the game 30/39 for 282 yards and 1 interception. He distributed the ball well to all of his weapons. Antonio Brown had 7 catches for 87 yards, Heath Miller tied a career high with 10 catches for 66 yards, Martavis Bryant had 7 catches for 49 yards, Markus Wheaton 4 catches for 65 yards, while DeAngelo Williams had 2 catches for 15 yards to go along with 23 carries for 76 yards and 2 touchdowns.
But, it was the much maligned D, and their bend but don’t break mentality that pushed the Steelers on their way to victory. Just like in the “Steel City” in on November 1st, defensive coordinator Keith Butler’s group picked Andy Dalton off in the red zone, and in the process, Dalton injured his thumb on his throwing hand while making the tackle on Stephon Tuitt and missed the rest of the game.
While the Steelers D did give up 385 total yards to the Bengals, they held them to 3/8 on third downs, 1/3 in the red zone, while getting 3 sacks for a loss of 18 yards and created 3 turnovers. Unlike the November meeting, the turnovers, all interceptions, led to 17 points.
William Gay’s 5th pick 6 of his career–tying him with Steeler great Hall of Famer Rod Woodson–with 14:10 remaining in the third quarter, blew the game wide open at 23-7. Cincinnati never seemed to recover, and the final score is not indicative of how dominate the Steelers were over them on the afternoon.
While a win is a win, there are some negatives Coach Mike Tomlin has to harp on to his team this week; the penalties and settling for field goals.
Pittsburgh was un-Steeler like in terms of losing their composure. They are the least penalized team in the NFL before the start of the day. Tomlin’s team was penalized 5 times for 82 yards. But, it was the type of penalties that were frustrating. A couple of personal fouls and unsportsmanlike calls, that in a closer game could have cost them the game.
Making 3 field goals isn’t anything Steeler fans can complain about, especially the way the season started with Josh Scobee, who many believe cost them at least two games with his atrocious play before he was released. But, this game would’ve been over sooner had a couple of Chris Boswell’s field goals were extra points after touchdowns instead.
Coach Tomlin is now 13-5 in his career against the Bengals, and 90-51 overall. Pittsburgh is still on the outside of the playoffs looking in with the Kansas City Chiefs and New York Jets victory’s. Next up, the Denver Broncos, next Sunday in the last home game of the regular season at Heinz Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:25 pm.