After a poor offensive effort against the Kansas City Chiefs last week, the Steelers felt like they had something to prove against a Bengals defense that hadn’t allowed a TD in Pittsburgh since 2009.
The Steelers didn’t mess around this time. They put up 4 touchdowns in the 2nd quarter and the game was over at halftime. Rashard Mendenhall led the way with two rushing touchdowns and a brilliant 60-yard punt return by Antonio Brown made in 28-7 before the half was over.
Brown’s punt return wasn’t the only big special teams play, however. After the Steelers offense went three-and-out on the game’s opening drive, the Bengals marched right down the field and looked ready to take the lead with a short field goal on 4th down. But 2011 first round pick Cam Heyward got a hand on Mike Nugent‘s 33-yard attempt. It was a huge play that helped set the tone for a dominating performance on all sides of the ball.
The “splash plays” that have been absent from the Steelers defense were back too. James Harrison had three sacks, giving him 8 for the season in the 8 games that he’s played. The last of those sacks came with enough veracity to knock Andy Dalton out of the game with a hip injury. Ike Taylor intercepted the Bengals backup QB Bruce Gradkowski.
The only bad thing to come out of today’s game was LaMarr Woodley tweaking his hamstring. Woodley was making his first appearance in the last three weeks, but was only able to play a couple of series on defense before watching the rest of the action from the sidelines.
Mike Tomlin was able to rest a few other starters late in this one. Roethlisberger watched the last 10 minutes from the sideline. Jonathan Dwyer was in late, spelling Mendenhall and Isaac Redman.
The Steelers have a short week as they face off against the Browns for the first time this season Thursday night at Heinz Field.