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Analyzing the Steelers Week 15 loss to the Bengals, by the numbers

There are a number of different factors which all contributed to the Steelers complete embarrassment on Monday night.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are still experiencing the wrong kind of streak in 2020 after winning their first 11 games. Between being shut out in the first half and turning the ball over multiple times, the Steelers dug themselves into too much of a hole to overcome.

After dropping their third straight game of the season, here are some of the numbers which helped lead to the Steelers 27-17 defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals.


The Steelers had done a solid job in 2020 of not turning the ball over extensively. Coming into the game, they had 14 turnovers on the season which was tied for 6th best in the NFL. The Steelers 3 first half turnovers not only hurt because of how they affected the game, they came against a team who only had 12 takeaways on the season prior to Monday night.


The Steelers found themselves down 17-0 at the end of the first half Monday night. What was extremely frustrating was every point scored by the Cincinnati Bengals came as a result of a Steelers turnover. The longest touchdown drive the Bengals had to sustain in the first half was 38 yards based on their outstanding field position from a takeaway.


In the game, the Bengals only had one offensive drive over 40 yards. Unfortunately, it was an 80 yard drive in a second half which ended in a Ryan Finley touchdown which put the game out of reach. The next longest drive by the Bengals was 38 yards as they only had 5 drives in the double-digits yardage wise.


In the first half of Monday night, the Steelers only had 40 net yards on their eight offensive drives. The breakdown comes with the Steelers having 33 rushing yards and 7 net passing yards. Ben Roethlisberger was 7 for 16 with 19 passing yards to go along with losing 12 yards on a sack.


It was no surprise that the Cincinnati Bengals attempted to minimize having to use Ryan Finley in the passing game. Completing only 7 passes on 13 attempts for the entire game, the Bengals did not run a single pass play in the fourth quarter. The final pass by the Bengals was a 10 yard completion in which Marcus Allen injured his shoulder on a hit to Finley. The Bengals ran the ball 15 times in the fourth quarter without attempting a single pass.


By getting a lead and maintaining it, the Cincinnati Bengals simply stuck with their running game throughout the night. They finished the contest with 152 rushing yards on 41 attempts which was their second-highest rushing total in 2020 only behind their 205-yard game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.


The Pittsburgh Steelers had 8 first half offensive possessions on Monday night. Of those possessions, 7 of them resulted in zero first downs. The Steelers had five drives of three plays and a punt and two drives which ended in a turnover without a first down. The only first half drive which resulted in any first downs ultimately ended with a Ben Roethlisberger interception.

In the second half, the Steelers had five drives not including their final kneel down at the end of the game. In those drives, the Steelers went three and out twice while scoring points on each of the other three drives. So when doing the math, the Steelers had a total of 14 drives including ending the game. Only four drives included a first down play with those drives ending in two touchdowns, a field goal, and an interception.


By giving up 27 points to the Bengals, it breaks a 23-game streak in which the Steelers had held Cincinnati to 23 points or less. It was the most points surrendered by the Steelers to the Bengals since Week 3 of the 2006 season when the Steelers lost 20-28 at home to Cincinnati.


Trying to find some positive side of the Steelers loss on Monday night, Benny Snell Jr. rushed the ball for 84 yards on 18 attempts. It was the sixth most rushing yards by a Steelers player in 2020 and the most since the Steelers defeated the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 11.


The Steelers did manage to get two sacks on the night to extend their regular-season streak to 71 straight games with at least one sack. But at this point, does it really matter?

So there are some numbers to help evaluate the Steelers’ performance Monday night against Cincinnati. While the Steelers’ offense had looked shaky in the three previous games, their performance in the first half, particularly Ben Roethlisberger, was unlike anything Steelers’ fans had seen in a long time including the Steelers dreadful 2019 season. While the Steelers offense has no reason to give fans confidence moving forward, they have at least three more games to play this season so perhaps the offense can somehow find an awakening before it’s too late.

There were so many more numbers than the ones listed above. Were there any other numbers which stood out to you? Please leave your answers in the comments below.