Santonio Holmes dropped a touchdown pass and Jeff Reed kicked a field goal with 16 seconds left in the first half to put the Steelers ahead 9-6 going into halftime. The Bengals took the ball first and self-destructed with an illegal substitution play, and Shayne Graham missed a 51-yard field goal attempt off the upright.
Bernard Scott returned a kickoff for a touchdown, but Kevin Huber mishandled the ensuing snap on the PAT, so the Bengals were left with 6 points and a 3 point half-time deficit, which could have been a 1-point lead.
Negatives so far, just to get it out of the way - injuries and penalties. The Steelers lost Troy Polamalu, but Cedric Benson looked awful after leaving the game early with a leg injury. He is severely hobbled, and I don't think we can expect much from him in the second half. The Bengals have been penalized on almost every special teams play, suffered the aforementioned bad illegal substitution penalty, and Ndukwe committed an absolutely atrocious, unnecessary pass interference penalty late in the first half to give up the Jeff Reed field goal that made it 9-6.
Positives - the defense is playing excellent football (even if they've been on the field for a long time, the Bengals are losing posession by about 5 minutes). They've sacked Roethlisberger 4 times, and hit him 4 more. CBS says that he's been "hurried" on 6 other plays. That's gotta be most of the pass plays the Steelers have run. There's been excellent pressure and excellent coverage from the defense and that's kept the game in reach. The Steelers have simply not been able to execute in the red zone. The defense has also recorded 5 other tackles for a loss.
The offense, meanwhile, has been inconsistent at best. Carson doesn't seem to be very accurate, especially downfield, and the early open receivers were only finding space when they were tapping toes on the sideline. The running game is working okay, but they're really not consistently going to the run, especially without Benson.
The important thing at this point is that the Bengals are right in this game in a great position to win. Despite being down on the scoreboard, they're playing great defense and we all know the offense has the capability, especially without Troy P. in the game, to make points happen. It's a defensive struggle (94 Bengal yards, 139 Pittsburgh yards), and I honestly like our chances down the wire. Let's make it happen, Bengals.