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Bengals fourth-quarter collapse leads to 42-21 loss to the Steelers

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The Cincinnati Bengals will conclude the weekend with an embarrassing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, who piled on 25 fourth-quarter points on the Bengals to drop Cincinnati's lead to a half-game lead.

John Grieshop/Getty Images

There you go.

Curse words are flowing like a river behind the backdrop of anger. How disappointing were the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday? They were butchered against the Cleveland Browns on Thursday Night Football, then head off on a three-game road trip with convincing wins in New Orleans and Houston, before their accidental escape from Tampa Bay. The Bengals returned to Cincinnati, in front of a proud fanbase that wanted this game so badly... and after taking a 14-10 halftime lead against the Steelers, they collapse in the fourth quarter.

A.J. Green hauled in the 81-yard touchdown reception as the third quarter expired, giving Cincinnati a 21-17 lead and all of the momentum. No. Momentum is bullsh*t, right? Pittsburgh responded with a 44-yard field goal, thanks to a 53-yard sprint by Le'Veon Bell on the first play of the ensuing possession. Andy Dalton's read-option resulted in a fumble and Pittsburgh easily scored on a 13-yard run by Bell take a 28-21 lead. Martavis Bryant added a 94-yard touchdown reception and Le'Veon Bell scored again on a 22-yard touchdown run, giving the Steelers 25 points scored in the fourth quarter.

Let's emphasize that point: THE STEELERS SCORED 25 POINTS IN THE FOURTH QUARTER. In addition to the points scored by Pittsburgh's offense, they butchered Cincinnati's defense with 229 yards of offense in the final period.

Cincinnati's offense, on the other hand, observed. There was no response on offense, with four possessions ending in a fumble, punt and consecutive three-and-out possessions. Cincinnati's fourth quarter offense: 12 plays, 39 yards, one first down.

Cincinnati falled to 8-4-1 and maintain a half-game lead over the division with three games remaining.

THE SPECIAL TEAMS GOOF OF THE GAME
The Bengals have fourth down with three yards to go from the Steelers 40-yard line with 9:38 remaining in the first quarter. Kevin Huber jogged onto the field, but only as a distraction. A direct snap to Cedric Peerman declared the fake but the football was fumbled and recovered by linebacker Nico Johnson. Unfortunately, by rule, the football can't be advanced by anyone other than the player that originally fumbled it. Turnover on downs.

Cincinnati's defense bailed out the special teams unit by forcing a three-and-out, capped by a deep pass to Antonio Brown with good coverage from Terence Newman and George Iloka.

FIRST QUARTER STRUGGLE TURNS INTO EXPLOSIVE SECOND QUARTER
After we defined the first quarter as an exciting defensive struggle between squads trying to build momentum on offense, both teams found their mojo with an exchange of touchdowns in the second quarter.

On the first play of the second quarter from the Steelers 40-yard line, Ben Roethlisberger hit Markus Wheaton on a 16-yard gain sustaining a nine-play possession that began at their own 25-yard line. Now on Cincinnati's 44-yard line, Roethlisberger connected on the ensuing play with a wide-open Lance Moore, taking advantage of a significant gap in coverage, for a 29-yard gain.

Following a pair of Le'Veon Bell runs, the Steelers convert third and three on a dump-off pass to Bell, falling inches shy of the goalline. Roethlisberger faked the handoff on first and goal, from the one-yard line with 11:22 remaining in the second, and hit a wide-open Heath Miller for a one-yard touchdown.

The Steelers took a 7-0 lead.

With 10:27 remaining in the second quarter, Andy Dalton launched the football 56 yards down the middle of the field. A.J. Green lined-up under the arching pass to haul in the 56-yard reception.

Two plays later, Dalton hit Gresham on the 10-yard touchdown to tie the game at seven.

Following a forced three-and-out by Cincinnati's defense, the offense marched 85 yards on 10 plays to take a 14-7 lead on Andy Dalton's 20-yard touchdown run.

The Bengals offense in the first quarter: 13 plays, 44 yards.
The Bengals offense in the second quarter: 15 plays, 165 yards.

With 2:57 remaining in the second quarter, the Steelers, starting from their own 15-yard line, invaded Cincinnati's redzone by reaching the Bengals four-yard line with 30 seconds remaining in the half. After an incomplete pass to Antonio Brown and Lance Moore, the Steelers have third and goal from the four-yard line with 20 seconds remaining. An incomplete pass out of the back of the endzone forced a Shaun Suisham 22-yard field goal, reducing Cincinnati's lead to 14-10.

STEELERS TAKE 17-14 LEAD
It wasn't until midway through the third quarter when the Steelers threatened to score. Granted, Cincinnati opened the second half on offense, but after two first downs, were forced to punt. Pittsburgh drove 90 yards on 10 plays, reaching the Bengals 10-yard line when Ben Roethlisberger dumped off the pass to Le'Veon Bell for the touchdown.

Cincinnati responded by going three-and-out and punting after only 1:27 of possession.

BENGALS RECLAIM LEAD ON A.J. GREEN BOMB
Eventually the Bengals have second and seven from their own 19-yard line with 10 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Andy Dalton launches the football to A.J. Green, who navigates under the football to complete the 81-yard touchdown reception.

This is A.J. Green's first 200-yard receiving afternoon while posting 10 receptions.

Cincinnati took a 21-17 lead, but Pittsburgh answered with a field goal.

THE FUMBLE AND STEELERS LEAD
Boy, things are looking up.

On the first play of the ensuing possession, Le'Veon Bell sprints 53 yards down the left sidelines and reaches Cincinnati's 27-yard line. Unable to score a touchdown, Pittsburgh converts a field goal to reduce Cincinnati's lead 21-20.

Following a three-yard run by Jeremy Hill, with 13:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, Andy Dalton performs the read-option. He holds onto the football, which clips Hill's hip and the football squirts free. Pittsburgh recovers, scores a touchdown and the ensuing two-point conversion to take a 28-21 lead with 11:34 remaining in the game.

THE STEELERS TAKE A 35-21 LEAD
...on this play.

INACTIVE LIST

BENGALS STEELERS
LB Vontaze Burfict LB James Harrison
DE Margus Hunt OT Marcus Gilbert
WR James Wright QB Landry Jones
WR Dane Sanzenbacher DE Clifton Geathers
CB Chris Lewis-Harris WR Justin Brown
OT Tanner Hawkinson RB Dri Archer
LB Chris Carter CB BW Webb