A strong 2nd half from the No 3 ranked defense in the NFL and a grind it out ground game lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a win over division foe, Cincinnati Bengals 29-14 today at Heinz Field. That headline seems like on that was written during the Bill Cowher era doesn’t it? It certainly does not sound like one from recent seasons where the high powered offense lead by Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown were chucking the ball all over the yard in hopes of scoring enough points to outscore their opponent each week. No, what we watched today was old fashioned Steelers football. It certainly isn’t as flashy and fun to watch but to Steelers fans it is familiar and comfortable to watch.
Le’Veon Bell led the way with 135 yards on 35 carries and 58 yards on 3 receptions. Antonio Brown as ususal, led all receivers with 4 catches for 65 yards and the first touchdown of the game on the Steelers opening drive. Brown ran a tight slant route from the 7 yard line and Ben hit him with a dart of a pass to give Pittsburgh an early lead. Then on their first drive of the 2nd quarter Big Ben hit a wide open Ju Ju Smith-Shuster for a 31 yard touchdown toss to give the Steelers a 14-7 lead. That would be the last time the Black and Golf would reach the endzone on the day.
The next 5 scores for the home team would come off the leg of kicker, Chris Boswell who had a perfect day connecting on kicks from 22, 24, 41, 49 and 25 yards. The offense moved the ball very effectively until it reached the red zone for the final 40 minutes of the game. The Bengals defense did a good job of bending but not breaking and continued to give its offense a chance at a comeback.
There would be no comeback for the Bengals offense. The Pittsburgh defense really tightened the screws on Bengals QB Andy Dalton and the rest of the offense. After scoring touchdowns on back to back possessions in the first half the Cincinnati offense would not see much in the way of positive plays the rest of the game. They made exactly 1 first down after their 2nd touchdown. The young and hungry and fast Steelers defense absolutely dominated the Bengals from the middle of the second quarter to the final whistle. It was a very impressive performance.
“We won, and won definitively today,” said Coach Mike Tomlin.
The defense was very impressive. Four sacks and two interceptions of Andy Dalton, all in the dominant second half. Joe Haden and William Gay provided the interceptions, both on deflected or tipped balls. Rookie linebacker TJ Watt recorded his 4th sack of the season as he continues to shine and show everyone why he was a first round pick. Cam Heyward, Bud Dupree and Tyson Alualu each tallied a sack of Dalton as well.
“We got off [the field] quick in the second half a lot — the pressure picked up, we stopped the run,” said defensive end Cam Heyward. “And they didn’t get any points in the second half. So that’s what we have to continue to do.”
That is the kind of production that is what the Steelers need week in and week out if they want to stay atop the AFC North standings and the AFC as well. It is good to see that it looks like Steelers football is back in Pittsburgh.