Steelers vs Bengals II Second Half Notes And Observations

Below are my notes and observations of the first half of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 27-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the season finale on Sunday.

  • The Bengals opened up the second half from the 30 after a good return. The Steelers were able to clamp down on the run, but on third and five, Andy Dalton found a target down the field across the 50.
  • However, a holding call on the next play nearly proved too tall a task to escape from. On first and 20, Dalton was forced to ground the ball due to pressure. After gaining 19 on second down, it took two more plays to pick up the one yard needed to move the chains.
  • But that’s where the drive stalled, as the Bengals missed a 50-yard field goal.
  • Ben Roethlisberger took to the sky on the first play after the missed field goal, but he threw into double coverage to Antonio Brown. If anything, he was lucky to get an incompletion here. The Steelers quickly went three and out afterward.
  • The Steelers defense, however, responded with a three and out of its own, with Stephon Tuitt making the stop on third down on a Dalton scramble.
  • On first down, Roethlisberger found Le’Veon Bell down the field for 18 yards, but the safety hit him in the knee, and he went down. He left the game, and it’s highly questionable that he’ll play on Saturday.
  • The Steelers used Dri Archer first as a replacement, and he lost a yard on his first carry. After blowing a blocking assignment on third down, pressure helped influence Roethlisberger’s rushed throw that was intercepted to end the drive.
  • The defense nearly responded with another three and out before a short pass converted on third and three. But the Bengals continued to drive, small chunk by small chunk as the clock ticked into the fourth quarter.
  • On first and goal from the five, the Steelers managed to string out Jeremy Hill to the sideline for no gain. Jermaine Gresham lined up as a blocker on second down, but peeled off Jason Worilds and leaked out into the flat. Antwon Blake came up short on a diving attempt as he dragged Mike Mitchell and Lawrence Timmons into the end zone.
  • Gresham gave just about everything left in the tank on that play to get the Bengals back into the game. He stayed down for a good while after getting into the end zone.
  • On Josh Harris’ first touch of the game, he found a seam off the right side behind blocks by Will Johnson and David DeCastro, breaking out for 59 yards and showing some speed, but it was all called back due to a hold by Ramon Foster near the line of scrimmage. Though it may not have counted on the stat sheet, he showed his teammates what he could do given a hole.
  • The Steelers quickly dug themselves out of that hole and began to drive, first connecting with Brown across midfield, but after Harris was dragged down for a loss on the back side, the possession stalled.
  • For some reason, Mike Tomlin allowed Brad Wing to throw a pass on fourth and nine on the Bengals’ 40-yard line. He heaved the ball up under pressure, and it was easily picked off at the 30, returned to the 41.
  • Suddenly, the pressure was on, the Bengals with a chance to go ahead with over five minutes to play. They began to drive, but after down down the field to A.J. Green, it was Blake who stripped the ball loose and fell on the ball, recovering for the Steelers at the 30.
  • But the Steelers were still not out of the woods yet, and it looked like they might go three and out after Roethlisberger overthrew Martavis Bryant deep on first down. The play drew a hold, but on second down, Roethlisberger had a third pass batted down.
  • On third and eight, however, Brown won the Steelers the division with a 67-yard touchdown reception, his 13th overall of the season.
  • For the rest of the game, the Steelers played deep to prevent anything from getting over their heads. Cameron Heyward added another batted pass to his resume as Worilds took advantage of the right tackle tripping over his tight end, chasing Dalton down for the sack. After a check down on fourth and 19, a couple of knees ended the game and gave the Steelers the key to the AFC North.
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