The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals renewed their rivalry at Heinz Field in Week 7, and there was a lot on the line for the home team. With a win the Steelers would start with a 3-0 record in the AFC North for the first time since 2008, would extend their lead in the division as well as take first place in the AFC.
But they would have to get through the Bengals first, and after Cincinnati lost the toss, Pittsburgh chose to start the game with the football. It was Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown who were the focal points as the team worked their way down the field into the red-zone with ease. While this area of the field had been an issue for Pittsburgh in past weeks, Ben Roethlisberger hit Brown for a 7-yard touchdown to give the Steelers an early 7-0 lead, after the Chris Boswell point after touchdown.
After the two teams exchanged punts, Cincinnati moved the ball 56-yards, orchestrated by big runs for Joe Mixon, and was capped off with an Andy Dalton touchdown pass to Brandon LaFell for the tying score.
To start the second quarter, the Steelers took the football and wasted little time putting more points on the board. After a huge completion from Roethlisberger to Vance McDonald, it was Roethlisberger who found rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster for his second touchdown pass of the game.
Not to be outdone, Dalton took the Cincinnati offense, again powered by some big runs by rookie Mixon, and easily moved into the red-zone. When stopped on 3rd and goal at the 2-yard line, Marvin Lewis elected to go for it, and Dalton hit tight end Tyler Kroft with the tying touchdown.
On their next drive, Le’Veon Bell single-handedly moved the team into the red-zone, primarily on a fantastic catch and run.
We're gonna go ahead and leave this right here... pic.twitter.com/Giv0c5J6VX— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 22, 2017
However, the drive stalled inside the 10-yard line, and Pittsburgh had to settle for a 22-yard Chris Boswell field goal to make the score 17-14.
After the Pitsburgh defense forced the Bengals to an early punt, the offense received the football with 1:23 left in the half and one timeout remaining. Roethlisberger moved the offense into the red-zone, courtesy of a defensive pass interference call on Dre Kirkpatrick, but due to some poor clock management the team had to settle for a Chris Boswell field goal. The boot from 24-yards was good and gave Pittsburgh a 20-14 lead heading into halftime.
The Bengals received the football to start the second half, but it was the Pittsburgh defense who stood tall and forced a three-and-out.
Pittsburgh received the ball and rode Bell, again, deep into Cincinnati territory, but on 3rd and 1 Bell was stopped for a loss of 4-yards, forcing Chris Boswell on for a third consecutive time. The kick was good, and the Steelers extended their lead to 23-14 in the third quarter.
On Cincinnati’s next drive, Dalton’s pass was deflected, and intercepted by Joe Haden, his first as a member of the Steelers.
However, despite good field position, the Bengals’ defense held Pittsburgh to another Boswell field goal, giving them a 26-14 lead.
Again, on the next Bengals’ drive, Dalton was picked off for a second time. This pass was knocked into the air by a leaping Sean Davis, and caught by William Gay.
On a fourth-and-one, after the interception, Terrell Watson was stopped short, which gave the ball back to Cincinnati to start the fourth quarter; however, another third-and-one stop put Jordan Berry back on the field to punt the ball back to Cincinnati with 11:05 left in the fourth quarter.
The second half storyline was nothing but Steelers defense, and it showed on the ensuing series. With Cincinnati starting on the Pittsburgh 45-yard line, a first down sack by Tyson Alualu, followed by a third down sack by Bud Dupree forced another Cincinnati punt. In the second half Dalton and the Bengals had only mustered one first down in the third and fourth quarters.
When it looked as if the Steelers were going to have to punt the ball back to the Bengals, the team called a fake, and Robert Golden hit Darrius Heyward-Bey down the sideline for a huge gain.
Nonetheless, the Steelers’ offense continued to stall when it mattered most, and settled for another Boswell field goal to extend their lead 29-14 with 5:14 left in the game.
It was more of the same for the Cincinnati offense on their next possession, and a failed fourth down gave the ball back to Pittsburgh, all with the Bengals out of timeouts. The Steelers were able to get a first down, and ice away the win in the victory formation.
The win moves the Steelers’ record to 5-2 on the season, a huge lead in the AFC North and the top team in the AFC. They will prepare for the Detroit Lions, on the road, in Week 8 before their bye week.
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