Sometimes wins are a thing of beauty. Sometimes wins come via tough defense and perseverance. In their victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12, the Steelers were definitely more of the latter of these two types of games. The spark created from changing quarterbacks in the third-quarter gave the Steelers their lone touchdown. Other than the one specific drive, it was the defense that ruled the day with great support from a resurgent running game.
With the victory on Sunday coupled with other losses around the NFL, the Steelers are back into the final wild-card spot in the AFC playoff race. As for the Steelers’ game specially, here are some of the numbers which led to the Steelers win over the Bengals on Sunday.
The Steelers had a season-high 38 rushing attempts on Sunday against the Bengals. Additionally, they also had their season high in yardage of 160 on the day. The Steelers had two different rushes of 21 yards, one by Kerrith Whyte Jr. and the other by Benny Snell Jr.
With the Steelers only attempting 27 passes on Sunday, it was only the second time in 2019 where the Steelers had more rushing attempts than passing attempts. The other game was Devlin Hodges’ only start against the Los Angeles Chargers when the Steelers had 38 rushing attempts and 20 passes.
Benny Snell Jr. had his best rushing game in the NFL as he ran for 98 yards on 21 carries for an average of 4.7 yards per attempt. It was the second-most rushing yards in a game in 2019 for the Steelers with James Conner‘s 145 yards against the Miami Dolphins as the leader.
The other 98 was James Washington who had three receptions for 98 yards. His 79-yard touchdown accounted for the majority of his yards, but to Washington’s credit it was a fantastic play.
While at first sight you may believe this number was the Steelers advantage in time of possession, that number was actually 8:50. The 8:59 designated the time remaining in the game when the Steelers got the first of their two turnovers. Once Minkah Fitzpatrick recovered the fumble forced by Devin Bush, the Steelers did not give up any more total yardage to the Bengals the remainder of the game. The final two drives consisted of a punt and a fumble with no net yards gained.
Of the Bengals 13 possessions, seven of them ended without a first down. In the second half alone, five of Cincinnati’s seven possessions did not move the chains. In the first half, two of the Bengals drives did not get a first down while one other consisted of only three official plays after the Steelers gave up a first down on a penalty the first play of the drive. One other drive did manage a first down while having zero net yards for the series.
With the Steelers not allowing a first down on seven drives, this led to nine total punts by the Bengals. Add on seven more punts by the Steelers’ Jordan Berry, and there were a total of 16 drives in which kickers punted the ball away. The punters combined for 734 punting yards while the offenses only combined for 583 yards.
Although not perfect, the defense really came through when the Steelers needed it. On the game, the Steelers forced two turnovers, had four sacks, and defended eight passes. The Steelers actually forced four fumbles on the day including one on special teams, and were able to recover two of them. In all six of the Steelers wins in 2019, they have had at least two takeaways. With 28 takeaways on the season, it is the most the Steelers have had through the first 11 games since they had 30 in 1997.
While the Steelers had impressive passing stats on their single touchdown drive of the day, beyond that it was a struggle. Devlin Hodges was two for two with 90 yards passing on the three play drive which concluded with James Washington’s 79 yard touchdown. Unfortunately, through the first drive of the third-quarter, Mason Rudolph was 8 of 16 for 85 yards. Coupled with Hodges going 3 of 9 for 28 yards the remainder of the game, the Steelers need to get more consistency with their passing game moving forward. Hopefully, as long as he remains the starter, Hodges can get a full week of first-team reps to improve those numbers for week 13.
So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ performance Sunday against the Bengals. It was an ugly win, but the most important number is the one which went in the win column. Were there any other numbers which stood out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below.