Well that was a close one. That game should have been over in the first quarter, but the late-game defense maddens us all. Some of us have a lot of exams to study for. The rest of you, read after the jump.
Jason Worilds recovers a fumble on the opening kickoff. Awesome.
“Heath” chants are audible in Cincinnati. Probably only sold out due to Steeler fans. I’d feel bad for the Bengals if they weren’t such dicks. Bruce Arians pulls a stunt on third down and fakes a reverse. Mendenhall gets wide open in the flat. He runs over a guy to the 1. Then he pounds it in right into the teeth of the Bengals defense. Touchdown. 7-0.
Willie Gay misses an open-field tackle in the backfield. He ends up running out a pile with the football on the next play, but it doesn’t even warrant a replay.
Then he blocks a punt. Consider that missed tackle appropriately made up for. Steelers take over and go for the end zone on first down. If you don’t love that call, you are wrong.
Mendy gets flattened and all the lineman get in each others’ faces. Keith Rivers shoves over Hines Ward and runs away when Ward looks menacingly at his jaw. The Cincinnati defense holds (read: relies on Ben overthrowing Ward twice) and Pittsburgh takes a field goal. 10-0.
T.O. nearly gives up a football on first down. Farrior pressures Palmer and Gay drops an interception. The Bengals offensive unit may not know each others’ names for how cohesive they are to this point. Their pass rush is bad enough that a sack still gets the Steelers 2 yards on the ground. A hit at the line of scrimmage nets 3 yards for Mewelde Moore.
Ben makes a Ben play, blocks two lineman for himself, and floats a wobbly ball to Heath Miller’s waiting arms. He gets enough yardage to warrant going for it on 4th down, but Tomlin doesn’t even bother. Punt.
Jon Gruden spends a few minutes talking about how much he loves James Harrison. And if Jon Gruden, the passing game’s #1 fan, doesn’t think James Harrison is dirty, then Roger Goodell can go choke on a cactus for all the fines he’s put on Silverback.
Cincinnati punts. Downed at the one yard line. No coincidence that was Randle El back there.
Chris Kemoeatu gets hurt. Crap. We have like no guards on the team.
Mike Tirico sees a white guy catch a pass and assumes it’s Heath Miller. It was Spaeth. Close enough.
Pouncey is hurt behind the play.
Doug Legursky is backing up both Kemoeatu and Pouncey. Both injured on consecutive plays. Who’s left, Greg Warren?
Sanders makes a play with a big return past the 30, but the suddenly depleted O-line plus Hines’ difficulty making a play so far it hurting. Ben buys time and throws into double coverage. Almost picked off. Punt.
The first penalty of the night is a hold against the Bengals. Someone comes in breathing fire on Carson Palmer. Lawrence Timmons is there for the errant throw. Picked.
Mike Wallace accepts a deep pass down the sideline and fumbles the ball out of bounds. Marvin Lewis challenges. Waste of a timeout. The referee spends a good while explaining the call. Who doesn’t love that trend this season?
3rd & Goal from the 8 yard line. Cincinnati takes a timeout. It doesn’t do them much as Hines Ward finally makes a play. He dives for a catch at the goal line. Touchdown Steelers, 17-7.
Consider that fumble forgiven, Hines. ESPN shows a replay that looks like he didn’t get in. Their automatic text-update service also said Ziggy Hood caught an 8 yard TD pass, so take that for what it’s worth.
Bernard Scott sets up the Bengals in good position on the next kickoff. Inside 2 minutes, Palmer and the no-huddle offense try to make it a game before the half.
Ted Nugent misses a field goal.
Pouncey returns at center and Ben hits Mike Wallace in his own zip code on the right side but the offense wastes like 30 seconds waiting to spike the football. Wallace can’t hold on over the middle, but Jeff Reed takes center stage for a 53-yard field goal anyway.
You know when you’re on your computer and a program locks up? Then you Ctrl+Alt+Del (Or, throw it out and buy a new one for you Mac users). It prompts you to report the problem and Windows will try to find a solution. You always skip that. You always click cancel, but what if Microsoft actually made a really useful and efficient method to find errors that might crash your program?
The Steeler offense goes 3-and-out. They punt and then blitz 28 guys on Carson Palmer for their first sack of the evening.
James Harrison gets shaken up on a play. Goodell will probably fine him for that.
The ‘Nuge misses another field goal. This is how kickers get cut.
Woodley gets to Carson Palmer and throws him down. Bengals get called for illegal formation but you can bet Woodley will bring home a fine for sacking a quarterback in an intimidating manner. No idea what that link is, I Googled it.
Wallace was open in the end zone but Ben didn’t lead him enough. Nearly intercepted, but thankfully Chris Crocker catches more like Betty Crocker. He then displays a similar level of durability by getting hurt from falling over. Again the offense in stifled and again they punt. Sepulveda misses the goal line and gets a net gain of 19 yards.
Cincinnati puts together a play but Lawrence Timmons catches Eightfive from behind. He gets up and spikes the football in frustration. Flag. Woodley was held on the play anyway. Harrison catches up to a scrambling Palmer and brings him down from behind by the ankles. $50,000 for touching a QB below the waist.
Mendenhall jukes 8 guys on defense and gets a nice gain. Twice. Ben sneaks on 3rd & 1.
Mike Tirico tells an unreal anecdote about Ben playing ping pong in the locker room with guys.
Bruce Arians channel his inner-Whisenhunt. Ben hands the ball off to Randle El sprinting through the backfield, he stops on a dime, Ben throws a block on some joke. El shows off his arm. Wallace outjumps Leon Hall. 27-7.
The Bengals begin their comeback bid. Carson Palmer gets hammered but T.O. beats B-Mac into the end zone. He’ll probably get fined for running into some security dude. 27-14.
Just as Ben gets a drive going, a ball slips out of his hands and wobbles its way into Roy Williams’ arms. Flozell Adams took a penalty for punching a dude after the play. Bengals just keep hanging around.
An offensive lineman literally throws Casey Hampton at Carson Palmer’s knees. 15 yards. $25,000. Ike gets a DPI penalty for running down the field in stride with TO while he drops the pass. Cedric Benson disappears under a pile. Both line judges signal he’s short but some dude in Idaho calls it a TD.
I don’t like to blame referees for anything but they absolutely handed the Bengals a touchdown on that drive. No one showed a replay of Adams’ foul, but the following two were joke calls.
Mendenhall smells a comeback brewing and he doesn’t like it. He inserts himself firmly up the Bengals’ collective nose. Grind, grind, grind. Jeff Reed trots his dumpy old self onto the field. Misses wide left. Something about that end zone, apparently. Both of Nuge’s misses were wide left from around the same spot.
Four minutes. Palmer has four minutes to score a touchdown and take the lead. He promptly fumbles and thanks a teammate for falling on it. Cedric Benson catches a weird bouncy pass and takes it for a first down.
The good news is that the blitzes have been moving into Palmer’s house. The bad news is that everyone is getting flashbacks of 2009.
Ike Taylor gets an actual DPI call for actually interfering with a catchable pass. He looks genuinely remorseful. Weird.
Troy Polamalu will be fined for hitting TO after a reception. Probably extra for calling out Goodell’s ridiculous fines.
The Monday Night guys spend a little bit too much time talking about how the Steelers have never lost a game with a 20 point lead. 2009 is running through your head. It’s 4th and 5 and Palmer sees his receiver. He gets the pass away. It hits Shipley’s hands. Taylor and Harrison arrive on the scene.