The Pittsburgh Steelers entered Week 12 with a 5-4-1 record, and a win over the Cincinnati Bengals would go far in keeping the Steelers’ divisional, and playoff, hopes alive. Nonetheless, a trip to Paul Brown Stadium is anything but easy, with Pittsburgh hoping to avoid losing to the Bengals three straight times for the first time in over 30 years.
Pittsburgh won the opening coin toss and chose to defer their possession to the second half, putting Joe Burrow on the field to start the game. The drive the Bengals put together was impressive, and featured running back Joe Mixon. A 25-yard run by Mixon moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory, and the drive ended with an 8-yard Joe Burrow touchdown run to give the Bengals an early 7-0 lead.
The first Pittsburgh possession was short-lived after Ben Roethlisberger’s pass intended for Chase Claypool was intercepted by Eli Apple and returned to the 5-yard line. The only positive was the Steelers’ defense held the Bengals to a field goal, making the score 10-0 with 6:01 left in the opening quarter.
On the first play of the Steelers’ next drive Roethlisberger went right back to Claypool and connected for 45-yards. The play set up the Steelers to put their first points of the game, but the only points the could muster was a Chris Boswell field goal. The kick made the score 7-3 with 2:17 left in the opening frame.
The second quarter began with the Bengals on the move again, and just after crossing midfield it was Joe Burrow who threw his first touchdown by hitting Tee Higgins for the Bengals’ second touchdown of the game. In the blink of an eye the score was 17-3 with 14:15 left in the second quarter.
Unable to put points on the board, the Steelers called on Pressley Harvin III to duty for the first time Sunday. As they’d done all game, the Bengals’ offense wasn’t stopped. Whether it was passes by Burrow or runs by Mixon, Cincinnati did whatever they wanted. The latest Bengals score was a one-yard Mixon run to make the score 24-3 with 2:43 left in the first half.
Despite gaining 9 yards on the first two plays, Chase Claypool dropped a pass on 3rd and 1 and forced another punt. When it looked as if the Bengals were going to add to their point total, Burrow’s pass was intercepted by Minkah Fitzpatrick. With 37 seconds left in the half, and with three timeouts, Roethlisberger’s next play was a pick-six to Mike Hilton. The point-after was good, making the score 31-3 heading into halftime.
Pittsburgh received the football to start the third quarter, and not much changed from the first half to the second. After consecutive first downs, the Steelers were forced to punt the ball back to the Bengals without putting any points on the board. For the first time in the game, the Steelers’ defense forced a Bengals punt, giving the ball back to the offense without surrendering points.
The following drive had a promising start, with first down passes to Diontae Johnson and Najee Harris, but it was a sack fumble, recovered by Cincinnati, which ended the drive abruptly. It was Roethlisberger’s third turnover of the game.
Cincinnati’s offense was able to turn the fumble recovery into a field goal, making the score 34-3 with 2:35 left in the third quarter. After a Steelers three-and-out, Cincinnati continued to pile up the points by way of another Mixon touchdown. After the point after the score was 41-3 with 13:10 left in regulation.
Another Steelers’ punt saw the Bengals start to pull their starters from the game. Gone was Joe Burrow and Joe Mixon, and in were players like Brandon Allen under center. The backups weren’t able to put together a drive, and shockingly the Steelers continued to parade Ben Roethlisberger on the field, despite the way the game had played out.
Determined to not be shut out of the end-zone the entire game, Roethlisberger came out slinging the ball down the field. The drive was capped off by a pass to Pat Freiermuth for the score. It was the rookie tight end’s sixth touchdown reception of the game, and after Boswell’s extra point it made the score 41-10 with 2:59 left in regulation.
Both teams exchanged punts before time would expire, making the final score 41-10.
The loss was the Steelers’ second loss in a row, and moved their record to 5-5-1 as they now prepare to host the Baltimore Ravens in Week 13 at Heinz Field. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the team as they press on throughout the regular season.