For the second consecutive season, the Pittsburgh Steelers made their trek to Paul Brown Stadium worthwhile, handing the AFC North leading Cincinnati Bengals a 33-20 loss, marking their fifth straight game with at least 30 points scored.
Seventeen of the 33 points came off of three Steelers’ interceptions by Stephon Tuitt, William Gay and Robert Golden, respectively.
Ben Roethlisberger continued his string of dominance in Cincinnati, picking apart a banged up Bengals secondary, throwing for 282 yards and one interception in the win, while Antonio Brown hauled in seven passes for 87 yards, Sunday, as he repeatedly torched Dre Kirkpatrick and Leon Hall. With the seven receptions, Brown went over the 100-catch mark for the third straight season.
Heath Miller tied a career-high with 10 catches against Cincinnati — the second time this year he’s hauled in 10 passes against the Bengals — as he found tons of room in the middle of the field matched up against Vincent Rey and Vontaze Burfict.
While the Steelers rolled up yards and held the ball for a majority of the game, the defense played exceptionally well against the Bengals as Andy Dalton and Tyler Eifert had to leave the game early with injuries, forcing second-year quarterback A.J. McCarron to come into the game midway through the first quarter.
With the Bengals driving early in the first quarter following DeAngelo Williams’ one-yard rushing touchdown to give the Steelers a 7-0 lead, Stephon Tuitt stepped in front of a Dalton dump off to Giovani Bernard for his first career interception, holding the Bengals off the board in a big spot.
On the interception return, Dalton appeared to injure his right thumb, forcing him from the game.
Pittsburgh then took a 13-0 lead after two Chris Boswell field goals to put the Bengals on their heels before McCarron found A.J. Green for a 66-yard score to pull the Bengals within 13-7.
Much like they had prior to the Bengals’ first touchdown, Pittsburgh’s offense began another productive, time-consuming march down the field capped off by a 47-yard Boswell field goal to extend the lead to 16-7 at the half.
Despite racking up tons of yards in the first half, Roethlisberger’s streak of four straight 200-yard first halves passing came to an end as he threw for just 190 yards against the Bengals defense that came into the game allowing just 16.7 points-per-game.
The Steelers doubled that total in the win, thanks to three interceptions by the defense — including a 21-yard pick-six by Gay to start the second half.
Following Gay’s pick-six, the two teams traded field goals in the second half until Williams plunged in from one-yard out to cap off the win for the Steelers in a game that was incredibly chippy and downright dirty at times.
Williams finished with 76 yards rushing and two scores on 24 carries.
McCarron found Rex Burkhead late in the fourth quarter for his second touchdown pass of the game, but at that point it was all but over for Cincinnati, who failed to lock up the AFC North title.
Surprisingly, the refs threw just nine flags in the game despite every play post-whistle broke out in skirmishes, headlined by Burfict and his consistently dirty style of play.
Despite dealing with Burfict and his post-whistle issues, the Steelers kept their cool for the most part and beat the Bengals where it mattered: on the scoreboard.