It was a big day for the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Not only did Ben Roethlisberger return to the lineup, but the team was wearing their 1934 Throwback uniforms. Outside of personnel and uniforms, the Steelers desperately needed the win over the 6-0 Cincinnati Bengals to keep their hopes of winning back-to-back AFC North division titles alive.
The Steelers started the game on offense, and after consecutive running plays, Todd Haley finally let Roethlisberger throw a pass and it was a first down completion to Antonio Brown to extend the opening drive. The drive continued, aided by a defensive pass interference penalty on the Bengals, and resulted in the Steelers' first trip into the Bengals' red-zone. On a third-and-goal, Roethlisberger rolled to his right and hit Antonio Brown for a 2-yard drive. The opening drive took up 7:14, encompassed 12 plays and covered 80-yards. The Chris Boswell extra point gave the Steelers an early 7-0 lead.
The Bengals offense started their first drive of the game, and took little time getting the football well into Pittsburgh territory. It was a balanced attack of throwing and running, but it was a big pass from Andy Dalton to AJ Green which moved the Bengals to the edge of the red-zone. On a third and six, with 2:54 left in the quarter Dalton's pass intended for Tyler Eifert fell incomplete and resulted in a Mike Nugent 44-yard field goal. The kick made the score 7-3 with 2:50 left in the opening frame.
After a mistake by Dri Archer to return the Bengals' ensuing kickoff to the 10-yard line, and the Steelers weren't able to get a first down, which resulted in the first Jordan Berry punt of the game. The Bengals started their second drive inside Steelers' territory, at the 39-yard line. Jeremy Hill got Cincinnati into the red-zone, but the Steelers' defense would stand tall on third down and force another Bengals' field goal attempt. The Nugent 45-yard field goal made the score 7-6 with 14:55 remaining in the second quarter.
Dri Archer made another poor decision after the Nugent kickoff and the only returned the kickoff to the 16-yard line. The Steelers rode Le'Veon Bell early on their third drive, and after an initial first down Pittsburgh's offense moved the wrong way and Roethlisberger was sacked on third down ending the drive and equated to another Jordan Berry punt. Adam Jones returned the punt to midfield, but after shoving long snapper Greg Warren after the play, the Bengals started their next drive on their own 35-yard line with 11:08 left in the first half.
A false start on the first Bengals play on the drive put the team behind the chains early, and resulted in an eventual 3rd and 15 where Dalton would get sacked by Jarvis Jones and Ryan Shazier to force the first Bengals' punt of the game. Jones and Shazier's sack was the third time the Steelers defense had gotten to Dalton in the backfield.
The Steelers' next drive started at midfield, and stalled when Le'Veon Bell injured his knee on the first play while catching the football out of the backfield. Bell was tackled awkwardly by a host of Bengals players and had his knee fold underneath him while going down to the ground. The Steelers wouldn't gain another yard and have to punt the football back to Cincinnati.
Andy Dalton moved the ball into into Pittsburgh territory again, but a botched snap on 3rd and 2 would equate to Kevin Huber's second punt of the first half. Roethlisberger hit Heath Miller for a first down before the two-minute warning. In back-to-back plays Roethlisberger hit DeAngelo Williams and Miller for consecutive 10-yard passing plays with 1:38 left in the first half. The drive stalled at midfield and Berry's punt went out of bounds at the Cincinnati 5-yard line with 47 seconds left in the half. The Bengals kneeled out the remaining time left in the half with the Steelers leading 7-6.
The Bengals had deferred at the onset of the game, and received the ball to start the second half. They started their first drive of the second half at the 31-yard line, and after a quick first down strike to AJ Green for a first down the Bengals were faced with another 3rd and 6 situation. Andy Dalton continued to be harassed by the Pittsburgh pass rush and threw incomplete to force another Huber punt for the Bengals.
The Steelers, who had struggled to move the football since their opening drive, were unable to get a first down and on third down Roethlisberger was intercepted by Reggie Brown on a deep pass intended for Antonio Brown. Andy Dalton took control at the Steelers' 33-yard line and was under siege from the first snap. After a Steve McLendon sack and a personal foul against Cincinnati, the Bengals faced a 3rd and 34. The Bengals checked the ball down and Huber was called onto punt again with 10:43 left in the third quarter. Through nearly three quarters of play, Cincinnati hadn't converted on a third down conversion.
Ben Roethlisberger took control of the ensuing Steelers' possession and drove the offense into the red-zone on the back of Heath Miller. Miller was the target of two first down passes, one of which drew an additional 15-yards on a personal foul penalty for hitting a defenseless receiver. A pass to DeAngelo Williams on 3rd and 15 came up two yards short and bring Chris Boswell out for his first field goal of the game. The 32-yard attempt was good and gave the Steelers a 10-6 lead with 6:27 left in the third quarter.
Andy Dalton connected with AJ Green in the first possession of Cincinnati's next drive and despite moving the ball into the red-zone, would have to settle for a Mike Nugent field goal, but the 42-yard attempt was blocked by Cameron Heyward giving the Steelers their first turnover of the game.
The Steelers started the next drive from their 10-yard line, and DeAngelo Williams was the difference to start the drive as he broke off a big 55-yard run to move the ball to the Cincinnati 35-yard line. It was Heath Miller again who was the target on third down, and after a challenge proved to gain enough yardage for a first down. The Steelers started their next series at the 25-yard line to start the fourth quarter.
The Steelers were unable to move the ball on the shortened field, and after a penalty-riddled drive backed the team out of field goal rainge, the team was forced to settle for another Jordan Berry punt and failing to take advantage of good field position.
The Bengal's first possession of the fourth quarter started at their own 17-yard line with 13:35 left in the fourth quarter. Dalton and the Bengals, as they have all game, moved the ball well to start the drive but this time Cincinnati was able to drive the ball into Pittsburgh's red-zone after a big catch by Tyler Eifert over the middle. On third down and goal, Antwon Blake intercepted a Dalton pass and returned the ball 42-yards to the 40-yard line with 9:00 minutes left in the game.
The Steelers weren't able to get a first down and had to punt the ball back to Cincinnati with 7:26 left in the game. A botched snap on 1st down resulted in a 15-yard loss for the Bengals and forced a 2nd and 25. On third down, Dalton threw deep to AJ Green, but was intercepted by Mike Mitchell. After a block in the back penalty against Robert Golden, the Steelers started their drive on the 25-yard line with 6:00 left in the game.
After a 1st down run by DeAngelo Williams, Roethlisberger was intercepted by Shawn Williams, giving the ball back to Cincinnati at the 45-yard line. A third down scramble and shuffle pass to Giovani Bernard moved the ball into the red-zone with 3:41 left in the game. Faced with a 3rd and 2 with 3:01 left in the game Dalton hit AJ Green for a touchdown. The Nugent extra point gave the Bengals a 13-10 lead with 2:57 left in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers started their next drive on their 20-yard line with three timeouts remaining and the two-minute warning still on their side. On the first play from scrimmage Roethlisberger threw another interception to Reggie Nelso, his third on the day, and would give Cincinnati the ball with 2:44 left in the game. Coming off the two-minute warning, the Steelers defense was forced to hold the Bengals to a field goal on a third and seven and Jeremy Hill was dropped in the backfield for a two-yard loss. Mike Nugent made a 44-yard field goal to extend the Cincinnati lead 16-10 with 1:47 left in the game.
Roethlisberger and the Steelers had one timeout and 80-yards to score the game-winning touchdown, and despite moving the ball inside the 30-yard line, Roethlisberger's pass would sail out of the end zone to make the final score 16-10. The loss handed the Steelers' their second straight loss, and the Bengals' their 7th win. The Steelers host the Oakland Raiders in Week 9 at Heinz Field.