Last time the Steelers played the Bengals, we all know the Steelers should have won. But an uncharacteristic late game collapse by the defense led to a Cincinnati win. You know the defense didn’t want to re-live that. And they didn’t give up a touchdown all game. Unfortunately, they let the Bengals move up and down the field and gave up a ton of field goals. The offense couldn’t keep up.
Willie Gay gets his second almost-interception on an opening drive in as many weeks, but instead the Bengals come out moving the football through the air (just as well, Cedric Benson was getting nothing). The defense finally gets a third down and Ike Taylor reminds you that Chad “I-don’t-understand-Spanish-numbers” is his legal property. The field goal unit comes out. 51-yard attempt into the open end of Heinz Field.
And Shayne Graham hits the upright. 0-0. Steelers get the ball at their 41.
The offense starts marching down the field. A few screens, a few runs, and Ben displays a rare lack awareness and takes an easy sack. On the next play, he makes up for it with a 13 yard run for the first. Unfortunately the offense finally stalls and Reed comes on for a short field goal. 3-0.
Bengals score on the ensuing kickoff. Dammit. 6-3. Somehow the Bungles manage to screw up the extra point. Punter ends up with a ball looking for a receiver with a defender around his legs. Ref decides it’s not worth humiliating/breaking the guy and just blows the play dead.
Bengals come up with another sack. Ben hits Holmes for a nice gain. Short of a first, but the refs give an awful spot ahead of the sticks. The Bengals challenge and they move the ball back a full two yards. That was the right call. Punt.
Tyrone Carter checks in at safety. Word is that Troy Polamalu is out for the game with a knee. Buckle up.
The Bengals smell blood in the secondary with Troy out. The good news so far is that the Bengals’ running game is garbage. 3rd and 14 and Palmer slings it a good 3 yards behind his receiver. Punt team comes on the field.
Steelers take over at the 10. Heath to the 21. Holmes to the 32. Heath follows up with only a 3 yard catch, but he takes a Bengal out on the play anyway. Just when Ben looks like he’s taking another sack, he gets it to Ward in the flat. Brandon Johnson’s ankle tackle limits that to two yards. If he misses that, it’s a huge first down. An imcompletion and a punt follow. Keenan Lewis goes down hurt.
Chad EightFive has a pass bounce right off his hands because his life is quite literally a joke. Bernard Scott (?) shows a rare tough run for Cincy. Third down, and Chad still sucks. Punt. Stefan Logan breaks off a nice little return.
Mendenhall shows you why he was a first round pick. The Steelers are already in Bengal territory. A deep ball on first down hits the turf. Solid defense against Mike Wallace. Cornerbacks wearing #22 apparently can’t make interceptions for either side. Some linebacker whacks Ward to the ground. The refs don’t call it because they are unfairly biased towards the Steelers.
Anyway, Ben makes one of his trademark plays, avoids pressure, and hits Holmes for a first. Goes right back to him on the next play on a screen pass. The Bengals DBs suck. 1st and goal. Mendenhall gets swallowed, a pass gets tipped by everyone and their dog, and Ben calls a timeout on 3rd and goal.
Ben takes a week and a half. Sacked. Those DBs can’t tackle, but they sure can cover. Reed comes out for the tie. 6-6. How awesome was that missed extra point?
A few garbage plays by Cincinnati and it’s 3rd and 5. Harrison and Keisel chase down Palmer from behind. That’s a 3 and out, and after a penalty the Steelers start at the 22.
Mewelde Moore picks up a nice run, then a nice catch. First down. Ben fires one deep and Mike Wallace drops it. Holding anyway, so it doesn’t matter. Two minute warning.
Another one off Wallace’s hands high. One more deep incompletion and Wallace draws some pass interference. One quick pass after another and the Steelers are set up with 1st and goal at the 8. Just to make things difficult, Ben takes a sack back at the 17. Another throw too high and we go into halftime with a 9-6 lead.
Let’s keep in mind the Steelers’ defense hasn’t given up any points yet. The Bengals have tightened up in the red zone
Steelers open up at the 32 with a solid run from Mendenhall. 3rd down, ball is tipped and intercepted by some defensive lineman. Pretty sad play. Bengals set up shop at the 14. A few plays the Bengals get 3rd and 7. Ryan Clark kills some guy short of the first. Graham puts a ball through the uprights for the first time today. 9-9.
Logan doesn’t do anything on the kickoff: a lot of running, not a lot of yardage. Steelers go 3 and out. Punt.
Palmer to Chad on an out route. When executed correctly, that is indefensible. Next play, Timmons gets to Palmer, but the ball gets to Scott. Woodley isn’t fast enough. First down, already in the red zone. 3rd and 6 and Palmer’s pass is batted down at the line. Graham again. 12-9. What an awful score.
Mike Wallace back to take the kickoff. There’s a new wrinkle. Out to around the 30. Up next it’s Holmes with the catch, another DB misses a tackle, and it’s first down. Next play, Ben throws a ball way ahead of Parker. Looked like he expected Parker to keep running instead of pulling up. Made up for it though with a tough 7 yard run on the next play. Third down, and another pass gets batted at the line. Are the footballs heavier today or something? Sepulveda kicks it away and pin the Bengals at the 7.
Bernard Scott for like 2 yards. Did Benson get hurt or something? LaMarr Woodley reminds you he’s a monster and sacks Palmer at the 1 yard line. Bengals take a delay of game on the punt. Half the distance there is like 3 inches. Logan fair catches at the 50.
Mike Wallace finally hangs onto a ball for a first down. Steelers go 5 wideouts and Heath makes the grab for 9. Mendenhall steps in and converts an easy yard to end the quarter.
Steelers find their way to a 4th and 1. Ben is awesome and picks it up himself. Mendenhall steps in some gum or something and gets stonewalled behind the line. Holding call takes it back anyway. Mendenhall for junk yards and another freakin’ pass gets batted down. Just to leave a great taste in everyone’s mouth, Ben overthrows Wallace in the end zone.
Reed barely sneaks one in for the tie. 12-12. Snore.
Fourth quarter. Time for the defense to step it up and avenge week 3. Ryan Clark almost picks one off deep but it bounces off his hands. Remember Brian Leonard from that last game? He picks up another first here. The Bengals just start firing downfield. Steelers are giving it up, too. Lavernius Coles calls a timeout to tie his shoe.
Brian Leonard again just short of the first. 4th and inches and he sends out Shayne Graham. Smart move. 32 yards to the closed end is automatic. 15-12 Bengals.
Next possession and Ben has not given up on this deep pass. Overthrows it again. Holmes picks up 6 yards. Ben manages throws another pass too high, this one over Heath. Punt.
Bengals now have the ball, the lead, and there are 6 minutes left in the game.
Bernard Scott keeps churning. Brian Leonard converts for the first. After the next play for some reason James Harrison punches some guy. Stupid play for a 15 yard penalty. This Brian Scott kid is just eating up the clock. Somewhere in there Palmer runs a bootleg and trips on himself.
3rd and 8, and Timmons jumps early. 3rd and 5. Thanks. Nick Eason manages the stop on the next play. Finally, a stop. Two minute warning
Field goal is good, 18-12.
Steelers start at the 33. He is absolutely determined to force a ball deep to Mike Wallace despite being covered like a blanket. Almost picked off. 4th and 10. Ben gets hit, the ball hits the turf. Bengals defense holds. Game over. The Bengals take a firm hold of the AFC North.