Coming out of the bye week, the Cincinnati Bengals amassed over 400 yards of offense in a 37-30 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. 37 points is the second-most the franchise has ever scored in Pittsburgh, and their last four wins have now featured at least 30 on the scoreboard.
Joe Burrow had an eventful afternoon playing without Ja’Marr Chase and Joe Mixon for the second half. Interceptions stemming from Steelers’ defensive lineman continued to be a theme like it was back in Week 1. Both of his two turnovers were impacted by the defense timing his throws, but there was so much more good than bad from No. 9. He racked up 355 yards, becoming the third-fastest quarterback to 10,000 in his career, and four touchdowns.
Six different receivers were recipients of 20+ yard passes, and Samaje Perine ended up with three touchdowns through the air. You read that right. Tee Higgins led the offense in receiving with 148 yards on nine receptions.
The coldest game of the Bengals’ season thus far had a surprisingly high-scoring first half. After Drue Chrisman boomed his first career punt and Evan McPherson drilled a 45-yard field goal, Burrow went on an 11-completion streak, finding Higgins, Mixon, and Perine often as he began to pick apart the Steelers’ defense.
Two of Perine’s scores came within the first 20 minutes. The offense was experiencing a 62% success rate when dropping back to pass for the whole half.
Kenny Pickett and the Steelers weren’t deterred despite the Bengals’ defense regaining multiple starters from prior injuries. It was undoubtedly the best half of Pickett’s rookie season, as the Pittsburgh quarterback looked poised and made key plays when he needed to.
The Steelers converted five of seven third downs in the first half, two via defensive penalties from the Bengals’ secondary. Najee Harris also looked like the Alabama version at times, especially during his 19-yard touchdown run wherein he hurdled Jessie Bates III at the goal line.
The end of the second quarter provided Cincinnati an opportunity to take the lead, but a tipped Burrow pass ended up being intercepted by Levi Wallace with just 35 seconds left in the half. Pickett and the Steelers drove 47 yards in just 32 seconds, getting Matthew Wright in field goal range to make it 20-17 at the half.
Defense became the theme to begin the third quarter. Cincinnati forced two straight three-and-outs, and the Steel Curtain started to bend a bit more. Burrow and Higgins connected for the offense’s biggest play of the day for a 33-yard deep shot that got the ball inside the five-yard line. Two plays later, Trenton Irwin finally lost his touchdown virginity to put the Bengals back up 24-20.
But these are the Steelers, and they never go away easily.
T.J. Watt, the agonizing demon he is, intercepted Burrow for the second time this season at the line of scrimmage to give the Steelers excellent field position. It was yet another godly play from the two-time Defensive Player of the Year, but the Steelers could only muster a field goal out of it.
Watt’s presence would impact the Bengals on the ensuing possession. The Steelers buckled down and forced a long field goal from McPherson. The second-year kicker made his 17th career attempt from beyond 50 yards to increase the lead to 27-23 near the end of the third quarter.
Back on defense, Eli Apple gave up a long ball to George Pickens and the Steelers were on the verge of responding. Two of the next three plays went for negative yardage as Germaine Pratt came up big with a tackle for loss, and Sam Hubbard notched the Bengals’ first sack of the night to give the Bengals the ball back.
Burrow and Co. couldn’t do much of anything on that possession. The next one went much better.
Great throws from Burrow led to explosive receptions from Tyler Boyd and Trenton Irwin that got the Bengals out of their own territory. Burrow finished the drive off by going to Perine AGAIN through the air. Perine became the 27th running back in NFL history (and the first in Bengals history) to catch three touchdowns in a game.
Following a four-and-out from Pickett, Evan McPherson’s third field goal of the day made it a comfortable 37-23 lead. The Steelers would put together one final drive to make it 37-30, but the Bengals recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the win.
Now at 6-4, the Bengals have another critical road matchup on tap against the Tennessee Titans next Sunday.