The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals were both coming off Week 2 losses, the Steelers to the Las Vegas Raiders and the Bengals to the Chicago Bears, and both were looking to get back on the right track in Week 3 at Heinz Field.
The Steelers were without T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith and Diontae Johnson, but the Bengals were also without wide receiver Tee Higgins. Nonetheless, the Bengals won the coin toss, and elected to defer their possession to the second half.
That meant Ben Roethlisberger and company started with the ball on their own 20-yard line, and they weren’t able to even muster a first down before Pressley Harvin III was called on to duty. Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ offense took over at the 41-yard line, but they too weren’t able to get a first down before sending the ball back to the Steelers.
On the Steelers’ ensuing drive, it was penalties which plagued the drive, again. Offensive pass interference on Chase Claypool and holding on Kendrick Green equated in another Harvin punt. On the Bengals’ second play of the drive, Burrow’s pass Minkah Fitzpatrick tipped the ball into the air, and it was intercepted by Terrell Edmunds, the first interception by the defense of the season.
Going the other way— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 26, 2021
: CBS pic.twitter.com/lqRv8issHr
Starting on the 45-yard line, another offensive penalty saw the offense face a 3rd and 13, and when Roethlisberger was hit while throwing the ball was intercepted by the Cincinnati defense. Two third down conversions equated to a Burrow touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd for the first points of the game. The Bengals led 7-0 with 2:54 left in the first quarter.
The Steelers were able to get their first non-penalty first down to start the second quarter, but the drive stalled near midfield.
After the Steelers’ defense did their job and got the ball back to the offense, it felt as if driving the length of the field was an insurmountable task. What happened was the offense had their best drive of the game. Big runs by Najee Harris, and huge third down completions to JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool moved the offense into field goal range.
Coming off the two-minute warning, facing a 3rd and 5, Roethlisberger hit Harris in the flat for a big gain of 18 yards, and put the offense inside the 10-yard line. On the next play Roethlisberger hit Pat Freiermuth for the touchdown pass.
Chris Boswell’s point after was good, resulting in a 7-7 tie with 1:09 left in the first half.
Trying to get into field goal range, the Bengals’ offense was aided by a questionable roughing the passer call on Melvin Ingram III. After another completion Cincinnati was in field goal range, with 43 seconds left. The next pass was from Burrow to Ja’Marr Chase for the Bengals’ touchdown for 34 yards. In the blink of an eye, the Bengals took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
Cincinnati received the ball to start the second half, and the offense picked up right where it left off in the second quarter. It took them three plays, two big runs by Joe Mixon, to move the ball quickly into Pittsburgh territory. Due to penalties, the Bengals’ drive stalled and had to settle for a 43-yard field goal to make the score 17-7 with 8:47 left in the third quarter.
Needing an answer, Ben Roethlisberger and the offense looked to be moving the ball, until Roethlisberger threw an awful interception on 3rd down to give the ball right back to Cincinnati in the red-zone. Three plays later Burrow hit Ja’Marr Chase for his second touchdown of the game. The score became 24-7 with 6:18 left in the third quarter.
Najee Harris continued to be dynamic every time he touched the ball, and a big catch and run, combined with a roughing the passer call, put the Steelers in field goal range. However, Chris Boswell missed the 42-yard kick, keeping the score 24-7 with 4:22 left in the third quarter.
The Pittsburgh defense forced a three-and-out, and the offense responded with another great drive. The problem being it took a lot of time off the clock, and ended in only a field goal. The Boswell field goal made the score 24-10 with 8:09 left in regulation.
A quick three-and-out by the Steelers defense gave the ball right back to the offense with 6:25 left and down two scores. Roethlisberger moved the offense into the red-zone, but on a 4th and 10 the swing pass to Najee Harris was stopped for a short gain. The Bengals took over, but eventually punted the ball back to the Steelers. It would all be for nothing, as Najee Harris dropped what would be a first down reception on 4th down.
The loss was the Steelers’ second straight loss and moves their record to 1-2 on the season. They now prepare for the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field in Week 4. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they progress through the 2021 regular season.