The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals met for the first time in 2018, and the two teams both need this win in Week 6 for various reasons. At Paul Brown Stadium, the Steelers entered the game in the cellar of the AFC North division, while the Bengals sat atop the division, looking down on their counterparts. A win for both teams would be huge. A Pittsburgh victory would allow them right back into the division race, but a Cincinnati win would just extend their lead over the rest of the division.
After both teams were forced to punt on their opening drives, the Bengals were able to turn their second possession into the first points of the game. After a poor Jordan Berry punt, Andy Dalton and Joe Mixon orchestrated a stellar drive which resulted in a Tyler Boyd two-yard strike to put Cincinnati up 7-0 with 4:36 left in the first quarter.
The Steelers answered the Cincinnati touchdown with an impressive touchdown drive of their own. After huge third down conversions to both JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown, it was James Conner who plunged into the endzone to start the second quarter to tie the game 7-7 with 14:33 left in the half.
Follows the big guys ✅— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2018
Punches it in for 6 ✅
PIT 7 | CIN 7 pic.twitter.com/eh8pje2vwO
The back-and-forth half continued between these two teams. Punts and passes dropped were the norm for both sides, but it was Pittsburgh who tacked on the next points after the Ben Roethlisberger to Vance McDonald connection heated up with just over 5 minutes left in the half.
After a tremendous reception by JuJu Smith-Schuster to rip the ball away from Bengals defender Darqueze Dennard, it set up the Steelers’ offense at the one foot line.
Old news: One-handed catch— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2018
Trending: #JuJuFlip pic.twitter.com/3yozrXPVSn
James Conner would do the rest for his second touchdown of the day. Chris Boswell made the point-after to give Pittsburgh a 14-7 lead with 1:07 left in the half.
Rather than kicking the football out of the endzone, Boswell left it in play and Alex Erickson returned it 43 yards to near midfield on the ensuing kickoff. Dalton did the rest by shredding the Pittsburgh secondary before hitting Tyler Boyd for another touchdown, tying the score at 14 heading into halftime.
To open the second half, Erickson again gave the Bengals’ offense tremendous field position. However, Cincinnati was unable to do anything with the football and was forced to punt the ball back to Pittsburgh for their first possession of the half.
Roethlisberger continued to do damage on the Cincinnati defense, this time by way of Xavier Grimble and James Conner, but after a Conner 25 yard run got the offense to the one-yard line, Pittsburgh was stopped on three straight plays and had to settle for a Boswell chip shot field goal.
After several punts by both teams, and the score 17-14, it seemed as if the team who had the football last, or who punched one in for a touchdown, would be leaving Paul Brown Stadium with the ‘W’. With 9:20 to play in the fourth quarter Pittsburgh received the football and Antonio Brown showed up in a big way when it mattered most.
Antonio Brown.— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 14, 2018
LOOK OUT. pic.twitter.com/BuUwO4XF0G
However, despite the big play, the Cincinnati defense stoned the offense in the red-zone for the second time in the half, forcing Chris Boswell into action again. Boswell’s field goal was good, making the score 20-14 with 3:32 left in the fourth quarter.
Dalton and company had plenty of time to move the ball down the field, and they did just that, working inside Pittsburgh territory prior to the two-minute warning. After a strike to AJ Green moved the ball into the red-zone, Joe Mixon got into the endzone from two-yards out to tie the game. Randy Bullock’s point-after gave Cincinnati the 21-20 lead with 1:18 left in regulation.
The Steelers had all three of their timeouts, and plenty of time remaining to be able to march down the field and give Boswell the chance to redeem his poor start to the season with a game-winning field goal. After two big completions to JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers were within Boswell’s field goal range, but they didn’t need it when Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown on a run-pass-option and he scampered into the endzone for the touchdown. A Smith-Schuster two-point conversion made the score 28-21, and that score held as the final.
The Steelers win moves their record to 3-2-1 and inject themselves right back into the AFC North race as they head into their bye week.