The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the 2022 regular season with a ton of questions surrounding their team/organization, none larger than the future of the quarterback situation. For the firs time since 2003 the Steelers were entering a regular season without Ben Roethlisberger on the roster.
What will it look like? Mitch Trubisky was named the starter leading into the Week 1 game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati, but the bigger concern were the players blocking up front, not necessarily who is at quarterback. Needless to say, answers for the Steelers would be provided, whether they be positive or negative.
Cincinnati won the opening coin toss, and it was the Steelers’ offense which was forced into action to start the first quarter. Matt Canada’s unit went no-huddle to start the game, and what looked like a pass to Diontae Johnson was a first down, the play was ruled down short of the line to gain.
After a failed Mike Tomlin challenge, Pressley Harvin III went onto action for the first time. Starting at their own 22, Joe Burrow was sacked by Cam Heyward on first down. On second down Burrow was intercepted by Minkah Fitzpatrick and he ran it back for the pick-six.
Chris Boswell’s point-after was good, making the score 7-0 with 12:43 left in the opening quarter.
The next drive for Cincinnati was more successful than their opening drive, but when entering field goal range an Alex Highsmith sack on 3rd and 10 looked to push the Bengals out of field goal range. However, Evan McPherson hit a 59-yard kick to make the score 7-3.
A Steelers three-and-out gave the ball right back to Burrow and company; however, the Steelers’ defense continued to dominate the Bengals’ offensive line. On 1st down following a defensive pass interference call, Alex Highsmith registered his second sack and caused a fumble on Borrow that was snagged out of the air by Cam Heyward.
Following a trick play pass to Pat Freiermuth off the turnover, the Steelers offense was unable to punch the ball into the end-zone on a first-and-goal situation. Instead, they settled for a Chris Boswell chip shot field goal to make the score 10-3.
To start the second quarter, Burrow continued to struggle with the Pittsburgh defense. T.J. Watt blew up a Joe Mixon run play, and on the next snap Watt jumped to knock the ball down, and ended up intercepting the pass, the third turnover for the Steelers defense.
Trubisky and the offense was able to take advantage of the turnover and moved the ball methodically down the field. A 32-yard misdirection pass to Zach Gentry set up a first and goal situation. Following a defensive pass interference call in the end zone, the second play was a swing pass to Najee Harris for the Steelers touchdown.
Boswell’s extra point was good, making the score 17-3.
Desperately needing an answer, the end result for Burrow and the Bengals was familiar, a turnover. When nearing midfield, a pass intended for Tyler Boyd was picked off by Cam Sutton, the 4th Cincinnati turnover in the first half.
A three-and-out after the interception gave the ball right back to Cincinnati, and the Bengals’ offense started to heat up. Facing a critical 4th and 1, Joe Mixon broke off a huge run to put the offense in a first-and-goal situation. The Steelers’ defense did their best bend-don’t-break impersonation and held the Bengals to a field goal. The kick was good, making the score 17-6 heading into halftime.
The Bengals received the football to start the second half, but the Pittsburgh defense forced a three-and-out to start the third quarter. While the Steelers’ first drive of the second half did include a first down, another Pressley Harvin punt gave the Bengals the football starting in Pittsburgh territory.
Keeping Burrow and company out of the end-zone wouldn’t last the entire game, and the Bengals finally hit pay dirt on their next drive. After Burrow hit Tyler Boyd for the team’s first touchdown, the Bengals converted a two-point conversion to make the score 17-14 with 4:41 left in the third quarter.
While the next Pittsburgh offensive drive wasn’t a three-and-out, it didn’t produce either points or a time consuming drive. A nice Pressley Harvin punt put the Bengals inside their own 10-yard line to start, and it resulted in another sack of Burrow, and another Cincinnati punt.
A 20-yard Gunner Olszewski punt return gave the Steelers’ offense their best field position, not off a turnover, of the game. Starting in Cincinnati territory, the Trubisky led offense continued to lack rhythm and any direction. Only garnering just one first down, and not able to run the football, the offense settled for a 48-yard Chris Boswell field goal to make the score 20-14 with 11:13 left in regulation.
Cincinnati’s next drive moved the ball into Pittsburgh territory, but the Bengals decided to take a risk by going for it on a 4th and 6 on the cusp of field goal range. The result was an Ahkello Witherspoon interception, giving the Steelers the ball back with 8:16 left in the 4th quarter.
Pittsburgh’s offense only gained one first down before punting the ball right back to Cincinnati. Burrow hit the usual targets to move the ball to the one-yard line. Joe Mixon was dropped for a loss on first down, and two more failed plays put the Bengals in a 4th-and-goal situation. The 4th down play fell incomplete and a turnover on downs.
As predicted, the Steelers’ offense failed to move the ball, giving the ball back to Cincinnati with 1:27 left in the 4th with one timeout left.
Back-to-back completions to Joe Mixon moved the ball to the Pittsburgh 40-yard line. and it was Ja’Marr Chase who m oved it to the 22-yard line with 27 seconds left. Following an illegal hands to the face call, the Bengals had the ball with 16 seconds left and no timeouts. Two incomplete passes left the Bengals with 4 seconds left on the clock, and needing a touchdown to win. The last play of the game went to Ja’Marr Chase for the game-tying score.
With a backup long snapper, the extra point was blocked by Minkah Fitzpatrick and the 20-20 score resulted in overtime.
Pittsburgh started with the football to start overtime, but couldn’t even gain enough yardage for a first down. Cincinnati’s offense took over and moved the ball to the edge of field goal range for McPherson. On a 3rd and 3, Burrow hit Hayden Hurst to move the ball to the 13-yard line. Two plays later and it was McPherson on to end the game. The backup snapper resulted in another missed kick, and it wasn’t close...giving the Steelers new life.
On first down, Trubisky hit Diontae Johnson with an amazing catch down the sideline. The pass moved the ball to the 45-yard line and gave the Steelers an injection of hope. A reverse to Chase Claypool moved the ball to the Cincinnati 43-yard line. That was as far as the offense would get before Chris Boswell was called on to end the game. Boswell’s kick hit the left upright, and not in.
Cincinnati took over with just over 2 minutes left in overtime, but the drive resulted in a punt as they got to midfield. After the touchback, the Steelers took over with 56 seconds left in overtime. Trubisky hit Freiermuth on 3rd down, and got the ball over midfield. With 25 seconds left, another pass to Freiermuth moved the ball into Boswell’s range.
Boswell’s 53-yard kick was good, giving the Steelers the 23-20 win. It moved the Steelers’ record to 1-0 on the season.
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the New England Patriots in Week 2.