The Pittsburgh Steelers will look to snap their late season loss streak against the Cincinnati Bengals starting in about an hour on Monday Night Football. The Steelers have a chance to lock up the AFC North tonight with a win over the Bengals. Otherwise, they will face the Indianapolis Colts and Cleveland Browns to finish out the season which leaves the door very much open for the Browns to take the north.
Last time the two teams met this season, Joe Burrow was coming off a statistically great start to his rookie campaign, but he since has been ruled out for the season with an ACL injury. Because of this, Ryan Finley will be starting for the Bengals. Finley has gotten sacked at an alarming rate when dropping back as a passer for the Bengals, so the Steelers’ pass rush should be licking their chops.
Steelers vs. Bengals all time record: 67-35-0
Steelers vs. Bengals (away): 32-19-0
Last match result: 36-10 Steelers (2020)
Notable offseason additions: CB Mackensie Alexander, S Vonn Bell, G Xavier Su’a-Filo
Notable draft picks: QB Joe Burrow (IR), WR Tee Higgins
Steelers Inactive Players:
QB Joshua Dobbs
G Kevin Dotson
RB James Conner
DE Isaiah Buggs
OLB Cassius Marsh
S Antoine Brooks Jr.
Bengals Inactive Players:
K Randy Bullock
QB Brandon Allen
LB Logan Wilson
G B.J. Finney
G Alex Redmond
G Keaton Sutherland
Cincinnati won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. The Steelers elected to receive, so Ben Roethlisberger and the offense will get a chance to set the tone and right the ship early on.
Ben Roethlisberger rolled out on first down and took a deep shot to James Washington on first down. Since he was on the move, the ball was quite underthrown and could easily have been intercepted. On 2nd, Benny Snell for a couple up the middle, but on third the pass to Diontae Johnson was off target. He touched the ball, but I would not consider it a drop.
The punt was good by Jordan Berry as it was well beyond the opposing 20 yard line. Derek Watt flew in for a huge collision, but appears to be knocked out on the field. Hopefully he is okay, because a bunch of people immediately rushed the field to check on him.
Derek Watt was walking off the field with the help of others. The Bengals offense takes over from 26 yard line. A nice run pickup for Giovani Bernard on 1st down. They went back to Bernard on 2nd and 3rd for a total of negative four yards. A three and out for the Bengals as well.
A nice punt by Kevin Huber that pinned Ray-Ray McCloud in the corner at his own 22 yard line.
On the first play of the drive, Ben Roethlisberger complete to Juju Smith-Schuster in the middle of the field for five yards. The next play, Ben went to Diontae Johnson on a deep crossing route, but was off target and the ball fell incomplete.
On 3rd and 5, Ben Roethlisberger dropped back and threw deep to James Washington along the left side line on a go route. Nice coverage by the defender and the ball fell incomplete. Another three-and-out. Not a great start.
Mike Hilton with the nice backside pursuit to bring down Giovani Bernard from behind to set up 3rd and two. On 3rd, Steven Nelson in coverage to break up the pass intended for Tee Higgins. Still no first downs for either team in this game.
On 1st down, Ben Roethlisberger never quite got a hold of the snap and fumbled. The Bengals recovered the fumble to get excellent field position.
On first down from the red zone, a one yard run as Giovani Bernard was brought down from behind. The next play, Tee Higgins picked up the first down on the right sideline on a quick hitch. A fresh set of downs from the 10 yard line. A false start backs them up to 1st and goal from the 15.
Ryan Finley held onto the ball and scrambled for about four yards. He was under a lot of pressure there. Samaje Perine picked up several yards on second down, but Minkah Fitzpatrick came downhill to stop the touchdown. Alex Highsmith and TJ Watt were both instantly in the backfield for the sack. A 34 yard field goal attempt for the Bengals.
The field goal was good. 3-0 Bengals.
The kickoff sailed out of the back of the end zone, so the Steelers will start at their own 25. This drive feels like it could be an inflection point. If they lay another egg that turns into the trend of the game, but if there are some signs of life, and something to build upon then they could shake off the early game rust.
After a loss of yards on first down to Ray-Ray McCloud, Anthony McFarland was able to pick up 5 in between the tackles. He hit the hole hard and drove his legs for a few extra yards.
On 3rd and long the Steelers ended up calling a timeout. They must not have liked what they saw. Ben with another off target ball that could have been intercepted intended for Diontae Johnson. It fell incomplete, so another three-and-out for the Steelers. Punt, punt, fumble, punt for the Steelers offense so far.
Another great punt from Jordan Berry and the special teams appears to be playing with an edge as they are flying all over the place. The energy from that unit jumps off the tv-tape.
The Bengals offense landed the biggest offensive play of the day with a beautiful throw by Ryan Finley to AJ Green along the right sideline for a pickup of 30 yards.
The next play, almost another large completion for what could have been a touchdown, but Minkah FItzpatrick and Joe Haden with the excellent pass break up. Tyler Boyd was injured on the play.
TJ Watt is demanding three blockers from the Cincinnati Bengals. They clearly want to limit his damage as he has already made a play or two.
3rd and five just outside of field goal range and Ryan Finley tried to scramble up the middle. Mike Hilton caused him to step up in the pocket and Cameron Heyward cleaned it up with the tackle.
The Bengals curiously attempted the field goal from 55 yards out, and he missed. The Steelers start with excellent field position.
On first down, Ben Roethlisberger’s pass was deflected intended for Chase Claypool. Benny Snell with a screen pass along the right sideline for about 4 yards. On third down Juju ran a drag route and Vonn Bell absolutely walloped him over the middle. The ruling was an incomplete pass, but it looks like a fumble to me. The Bengals could potentially have great field position yet again.
The call was overturned, Bengals’ ball. Ryan Finley with an option. He kept the ball and ran around the right end. The Steelers bit on the fake and he was able to pick up 5 yards as the quarter ended.
On 3rd and three, Finley complete to Tee Higgins for the first down and then some. The Bengals are firmly in the red zone again, so another chance for this defense to stand tall.
Ryan Finley is scrambling a lot with the ball. He is running fine at first, but a lot of hesitation at the end of his runs without sliding or giving himself up. Only a matter of time before he gets crushed.
The Bengals picked up another first down and are now at the four yard line. Giovani Bernard took a couple of delayed steps as he tried to get around the right end. He bought himself just enough to hit the hole and make Joe Haden miss. 10-0 Bengals.
Ray-Ray McCloud did his job to set up the offense returning the kickoff to the 35 yard line. On first, Benny Snell with three yards and a cloud of dust. They went back to Snell the next play for a gain of 6 to set up a crucial third and one.
Benny Snell right up the middle on third and ran into a brick wall. The Steelers line up to go for it on 4th and short. Benny Snell jumps on top of the pile to pick up the first down just barely.
Ben Roethlisberger went to Eric Ebron in triple coverage and nearly got him killed while Claypool sprung wide open in the deep middle of the field. Ben has not been seeing the field well at all tonight. Should have been a flag on the pass break up against Eric Ebron, but no flag called. That is two significant no-calls so far in the secondary. The refs are allowing the Bengals to tee off with big hits on their receivers.
Chase Claypool, in an alternate reality, could have two explosive plays so far in the game, but Ben keeps missing with the vision.
The dreaded 2nd and long run to Benny Snell, but he had an excellent individual effort to shed tacklers and pickup 13 on the run. That sets up 3rd and 2. Ben Roethlisberger rolled out naked on the left side and hit Diontae Johnson in the flats for the 1st down conversion.
The Chase Claypool jet sweep made its return and got blown up in the backfield for a loss of five yards. On 3rd and long, Ben Roethlisberger had plenty of time, and once again didn’t see the field. He threw a pick right to the defender. Chuks Okorafor hit the defender out of bounds for an extra 15 yards on the reception.
The Bengals have nice field position to start, and on first down they got a nice chunk right up the middle for 11 yards.
Giovani Bernard with a catch and run shaking multiple defenders for the touchdown. 17-0 Bengals.
Avery Williamson was helped off the field on one of the last defensive plays. The Steelers’ inside linebacker position is officially depleted.
Another off target throw from Ben Roethlisberger, but Diontae Johnson was able to make the hard catch look easy. On 2nd and 6, Benny Snell went up the middle for three yards. On 3rd and three for the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger dropped back and passed to Juju Smith-Schuster. Mackensie Alexander broke up the pass and taunted Juju, but an offensive holding made the penalties offset to repeat third down.
Ben went back to Juju over the middle, but the pass was broken up. The defender got there a bit early, but no call again by the officials.
Another punt for the Steelers offense. The Bengals have the ball back with the 2:00 warning stopping play. The Steelers forced the three-and-out and will have 01:13 and two timeouts to try and muster some points in the first half. The Bengals get the ball back after halftime.
Ben Roethlisberger was sacked by Carl Lawson for a big loss on first down. The Steelers handed the ball off on 2nd and long essentially sending themselves to the locker room for halftime. The Bengals called a timeout with not much time left. On 3rd and long, Jaylen Samuels picked up several yards, but ran out of bounds to stop the clock. The Steelers will punt with 00:13 left. Not sure why the Bengals called a timeout. They will have one offensive play now to make something happen.
In the past several weeks, the Steelers have had some pretty terrible first halves, but this one takes the cake.
END OF HALF 17 – 0 Bengals
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