The Steelers are always a tough opponent for the Bengals and always an important game. It is unfair to label games this early in the season as must-win, but with the momentum the Bengals have built, and an easier than expected game coming up against the Colts with Andrew Luck not expected to play, this game is very important for the Bengals to win.
The Bengals could be on a three-game winning streak with a very winnable game against the Colts. The Bengals need to continue growing on offense and shut down the Steelers stars.
To start off the game, the Steelers receive the ball. They aren’t able to get much going early on with Ben missing two easy passes. The Bengals though allowed Le’Veon Bell to get past the line of scrimmage far too easily. Letting the Steelers get easy first downs. Eventually, though the Bengals locked up Bell and with Roethlisberger struggling got the punt. The Bengals received the ball and started marching down the field.
The Bengals opened up the game with two of their biggest offensive stars. Getting the ball to A.J. Green on a couple of pass plays and Joe Mixon breaking off a couple of big runs. The Bengals cruised into easy field goal range. On first and 10 however, Andy Dalton took a huge sack resulting in a second and 24.
The Bengals weren’t able to get any closer on the next two plays with a failed screen and Dalton missing a wide-open LaFell over the middle that would’ve gotten them the first down. The Bengals are forced to take the now 55-yard field goal, and Bullock is not able to get it in, giving the Steelers the ball back with good field position.
The Steelers moved the ball down the field well despite more poor play from Roethlisberger. Bell is absolutely tearing up the Bengals defense. The Steelers get the ball inside the Bengals 10-yard line and look poised to score. As they do so often, though, the Bengals defense locks up. On third down, Geno Atkins sacks Ben and the Steelers had to settle for a field goal leading to them taking a 3-0 lead.
The Steelers kick off to the Bengals, who are trying to take the lead or at worst tie it up. The Bengals go back to Joe Mixon, who is having a very good game constantly getting past the line of scrimmage.
Dalton hits Kroft for a key big gain getting the Bengals into Steelers territory. The Steelers then pack the box and stop Mixon, and Dalton isn’t able to do much, forcing the Bengals to take the field goal. This time, Bullock makes the kick tying it up at 3-3.
The Steelers receive the ball with around four minutes left in the half and finally got something going in the passing game. Hitting Brown for a 20 yard gain. Then Carl Lawson brings down Big Ben for the sack, making it second and long, which unfortunately doesn’t last long as Bell runs past multiple Bengals defenders for the first down. Ben ends up hitting Martavis Bryant down the field who makes people miss and runs into the end zone.
The Steelers make the extra point and go up 3-10.
The Bengals receive the ball with not much time before half. They march down the field and are looking pretty good, but aren’t getting there fast enough. However, Dalton hits Green way down the field on a post route, and he ends up getting tackled at the 1. The Bengals hand the ball off to Mixon twice, and Mixon ends up getting the touchdown on the second attempt. Bullock makes the field goal tying the game up 10-10.
The Steelers receive the ball left with approximately 0:50 seconds left and all of their timeouts. The Bengals go into prevent defense and that allows the Steelers to get easy chunk gains. They get inside the red zone with 10 seconds left, but another Carl Lawson sack leads to the Steelers having to settle for a field goal with 2 seconds left at the half. The Steelers go into halftime with a 10-13 lead.
The Steelers receive the ball at the half, and this starts a long stretch of three and outs or near three and outs. The only time the Bengals can get something going is on their second drive of the second half with around five minutes left in the third.
On a read-option play though Dalton makes the wrong read and keeps it himself leading to him getting blasted and to a fumble that the Steelers recover. In the fourth quarter with around four minutes left, the Steelers get the ball back and start marching down the field. The Bengals are unable to stop Bell and are forced to use all of their timeouts.
Finally with under a minute left, the Steelers are forced to kick a field goal. The Steelers have a 10-16 lead with under a minute left, and the Bengals have no timeouts.
The Bengals receive the ball and get a modest return from Alex Erickson. Dalton on the first play misses a wide-open Tyler Kroft way down the sideline. On second down, Joe Mixon drops a pass after getting crushed over the middle by Ryan Shazier.
Dalton is finally able to hit Green on third down, but he is unable to get out of bounds, and the Bengals spike the ball. On second down, the Bengals try for a deep corner route, but it is well defended. On third down, they try for a hail Mary, but it is batted by a defensive lineman. Finally on fourth down, the Bengals try one last hail Mary, but it is unsuccessful.
The Steelers get the ball back with three seconds and kneel to win the game 16-10.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a similar stat line to what actually happens this weekend. This has all the makings of a defensive slugfest when so many other Bengals-Steelers games have seemed like offensive showdowns and ended up defensive slugfests.
I won’t be surprised no matter how this game goes down, but it could end up being this close. If Randy Bullock had made that first kick, for example, the Bengals would've been going for three on that final drive, and it may have turned out very differently.
However it goes, I hope to see a Bengals win and a very different vibe than the one we experienced after losing to the Texans what feels like forever ago.