The Pittsburgh Steelers took a 27-7 lead into the second half, certainly not looking like a team packing it in for the season.
The opening kickoff was a short one, and after Terence Garvin failed to wrap up the return, the Cincinnati Bengals brought the ball out to the 37. An incomplete pass and a holding penalty set up second and 20 early. Andy Dalton eventually scrambled for about five yards to set up third and long. On that third down play, Jermaine Gresham nearly gained the first down, but he was stopped short. Troy Polamalu ripped the ball out, and Ziggy Hood recovered the ball.
With the recovery, the Steelers took over at the 48-yard line. On first down, Le’Veon Bell hurdled a defender for eight yards, but Matt Spaeth was flagged for a hold. After a couple of fake handoffs, Ben Roethlisberger tossed the ball to Bell, who took the ball 16 yards to keep the team ahead of the chains. On second and four, Roethlisberger went deep, but he was picked off for the first time in 207 passes, six games ago.
With the interception, the Bengals took over at their own two-yard line. BenJarvus Green-Ellis picked up two yards on first down. A.J. Green caught his first pass of the half for the first down. From the 15, Dalton found Mohamed Sanu for five yards. On second down, Dalton was able to toss the ball away as he was being brought down by Al Woods. On third down, Dalton’s pass was too strong for Green, forcing a punt.
Taking over at the 36, Bell picked up about two yards on first down. Kelvin Beachum was injured on the play. After a 20-yard completion to Antonio Brown, Bell picked up one more yard. Roethlisberger rifled a pass to Heath Miller for 13 yards for another first down.
From the 27, Bell broke a tackle in the backfield for positive yardage, and a taunting penalty resulted in a half the distance penalty. Jerricho Cotchery could not hold on to a pass on his fingertips near the five on first down. Bell picked up about four cutting to the outside to set up third and six. On third down, the Steelers handed it off to him again down to about the three. The crowd, tasting blood, booed as the Steelers sent in the field goal unit, but Shaun Suisham extended Pittsburgh’s lead to 30-7.
The Bengals had another strong kickoff return, the one downer on the day for the Steelers. On first down, Vince Williams held Gresham to a short gain. Green was good for a first down on the next play. Dalton hung up a pass to Marvin Jones, which allowed Cortez Allen to catch up and force him out of bounds before he got a first down, though Green once again picked up the first down on the next play.
Jones ran around for eight yards on first down, and Giovani Bernard converted for another first down. Dalton’s next pass was tipped by Woods. On third and two, Dalton found Green down to the five to set up first and goal. Bernard slipped on first down. He gained most of the needed yardage on second down, but didn’t get it in. on third and short, Bernard didn’t get in, but Dalton’s pass to Tyler Eifert was good for the score on fourth down, cutting the lead to 30-14.
Brown gained one yard on first down, and Bell picked up just a few to set up an early third and long. Roethlisberger rifled a pass to Brown for the first down. Bell once again picked up just a short gain.
On second down, Roethlisberger checked it down to Bell, but Vontaze Burfict made a good open-field tackle to set up another third and long. A false start on Cody Wallace made it third and 11. Roethlisberger was brought down for the first time of the game, forcing just the second punt of the game for the Steelers.
A couple of missed tackles marked the first play of the Bengals’ ensuing drive. Green picked up 11 on the next play. Jones earned the Bengals a third first down in three plays. The Bengals settled it down with a run, and Polamalu tripped up the back from behind. On second down, Dalton found Jones a yard shy of the first down. Bernard punched it through for a new set of downs inside the red zone.
After an incomplete pass, Timmons tackled Bernard for no gain to set up third and long. Sanu gained just a few yards, setting up fourth down and five. From the 13, Dalton had Jones wide open in the end zone. Jarvis Jones batted down the two-point conversion attempt, however, keeping it a two-possession game at 30-20.
With time running out and needing two scores, the Bengals did not attempt an onside kick. Taking over from the 20, Bell fought his way for six yards on first down. Bell was dropped for a loss of three on second down, setting up third and nine. Sanders made the extra effort play to secure the first down.
Bell went airborne on first down, but for no gain. On second and 10, Bell squeezed through a crease for six yards. Despite spinning for extra yardage, Bell was short of the first down, punting with 3:17 to play.
On first down, Eifert was good for about 13 yards. Jones was unable to hang on to the pass on the next play. On second down, pressure by Worilds forced a quick release on a screen that fell incomplete. On third down, Allen batted the ball away after Dalton was flushed out to the right. On fourth and 10, Dalton’s pass deep to Green could not connect, focing a turnover on downs.
Jonathan Dwyer gained eight yards after taking over the ball. On second and two, he was stopped for no gain. Dwyer gained just one on third down. Attempting to seal the game, they went for it on fourth down and got it. The Steelers hang on to win 30-20.