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Steelers 3-3 after AFC North win over Bengals

Posted Oct 21, 2012



STEELERS 24, BENGALS 17

Steelers’ record:
3-3
One year ago:
4-2
Series record (including playoffs):
Steelers lead, 52-32

STORYLINE
As Coach Mike Tomlin perceived things, the Steelers needed to understand their situation and play with the energy required to become what they want to be. “We know what we are. We are a 2-3 football team that obviously hasn’t won on the road. There’s no time like the present to change that. That’s our mentality and I think that’s the mentality that reverberated throughout the group yesterday. Mentality is one thing, actions are another. We have to put ourselves in position to take action.”

TURNING POINT
It seemed as though the Steelers were slogging their way to a loss to the Bengals, mired in holding penalties and a couple of early turnovers in a game they trailed at the time, 14-6. What they needed was a splash play, and LaMarr Woodley provided it with an interception on a play where the ball first slipped out of Andy Dalton’s hand and then bounced off the back of an offensive lineman’s helmet. The Steelers capitalized on the takeaway to score the tying points before halftime.

STAT THAT STANDS OUT
When the Heinz Field Steelers have played the Paul Brown Stadium Bengals, it has been more of a homefield disadvantage. Since Paul Brown Stadium opened for the 2000 NFL season, the Steelers have lost fewer games there to the Bengals than they have lost to them at Heinz Field. The Steelers have lost TWICE to the Bengals at PBS, four times at Heinz Field.

WHAT WENT RIGHT
Ex-Bengals linebacker Brandon Johnson represented the Steelers at the coin toss as the special teams captain, and he worked his way through the blocking to tackle Brandon Tate at the 20-yard line.

It was vintage “Ben being Ben.” On a third-and-3 from the Steelers’ 16-yard line late in the first quarter, Roethlisberger got away from two pass rushers, including Geno Atkins, before converting with a 20-yard pass to Jerricho Cotchery.

On the 21-yard pass to Antonio Brown that converted a second-and-16, it was a block by Chris Rainey on Terence Newman that allowed Brown to get around the corner for the yardage he needed.

On a 21-yard run by Jonathan Dwyer that converted a third-and-2 with about five minutes left in the second quarter was made possible by a very nice block by Willie Colon, who moved Robert Geathers out of the hole.

The Steelers got themselves a takeaway thanks to a weird bounce and some good hands displayed by LaMarr Woodley. The ball slipped out of Andy Dalton’s hand and then bounced off the back of an offensive lineman’s helmet. Woodley came up with the carom to set up the possession that ended with a touchdown pass and then a two-point conversion pass to Heath Miller to tie the game at halftime, 14-14.

On a third-and-1 at the Steelers’ 30-yard line during the opening possession of the third quarter, Keenan Lewis came over toward the middle of the field to knock a pass away from A.J. Green in the end zone. The Bengals settled for a 48-yard field goal and a 17-14 lead.

Drew Butler’s first punt didn’t come until midway through the third period, and the inactivity didn’t leave him rusty. His kick traveled 55 yards and after a penalty on the Bengals, Cincinnati took possession on their own 14-yard line.

It was the first touchdown of Chris Rainey’s career – an 11-yard run early in the fourth quarter that gave the Steelers a 24-17 lead – and it was made possible in part by fine blocks from Willie Colon and Heath Miller.

On a fourth-and-11 at the Bengals 37-yard line with less than six minutes left in the game, Ben Roethlisberger lined up the offense quickly as if to go for it. But taking the snap, Roethlisberger punted – with his left foot – and the ball died at the Cincinnati 11-yard line.

The Steelers used their running game to kill the clock in the fourth quarter and set up a situation where Ben Roethlisberger was in victory formation for the final snap of the game.

WHAT WENT WRONG
Shaun Suisham made a 42-yard field goal to end the game’s opening possession to stay perfect from the 30-49-yard range where NFL kickers make their living, but the field goal attempt reflected a missed opportunity for the Steelers. After Ben Roethlisberger converted a third-and-10 with a pass to Antonio Brown, he appeared to have converted a third-and-9 but Mike Wallace dropped the ball inside the Cincinnati 15-yard line.

On the Bengals’ second offensive play, a pass from Andy Dalton bounced off the hands of A.J. Green, but a diving Larry Foote couldn’t come up with the interception. The Bengals, who came into the game ranked last in the NFL in third-down conversion percentage, went on to convert three third downs and a fourth-and-1 to go 80 yards in 15 plays to score the touchdown that gave them a 7-3 lead.

Stevenson Sylvester was flagged for holding on the kickoff following the Bengals’ first touchdown. That meant the Steelers began their second offensive possession at their own 9-yard line.

The Steelers had an apparent touchdown slip through the fingers – literally – on a play that started with a lateral from Ben Roethlisberger to Antonio Brown, who then threw a pass to a wide open Baron Batch circling out of the backfield. Brown’s pass went through Batch’s hands. Two plays later, Bengals SS Chris Crocker intercepted Roethlisberger in the end zone on a pass for Heath Miller.

Another special teams penalty on a return gave the Steelers offense poor field position midway through the second quarter. A 34-yard punt return by Antonio Brown was nullified by a holding penalty on DeMarcus Van Dyke. Instead of getting the ball at the Bengals 44-yard line, the Steelers ended up starting at their own 13-yard line.

On the play after Van Dyke’s penalty, Robert Geathers knocked the ball out of Roethlisberger’s hand and it was recovered by Devon Still at the Pittsburgh 8-yard line. One play after that, it was in the end zone for a touchdown on a quick slant pass from Andy Dalton to A.J. Green, and the Bengals had extended their lead to 14-3.

Incredibly, another holding penalty on another return gave the Steelers bad field position yet again in the first half. This time it was Baron Batch, and this time the ball was moved back to the 10-yard line.

Another holding penalty on a return – this one on a punt by Antonio Brown and called on Ike Taylor – nullified another fine effort by him, and instead of the ball at the Bengals 35-yard line the Steelers started their possession at their own 33-yard line.

SO MUCH FOR HEALTHY SCRATCHES ON GAME DAY
Two games ago, while preparing for the Philadelphia Eagles, the Steelers injury report was a coach’s delight. There were some names on it, but only to point out that they were back practicing after having missed some time. None of their seven inactives for the Eagles game were because of injury.

That changed dramatically in the week leading up to their game in Cincinnati. Starters Marcus Gilbert (ankle), Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles), Troy Polamalu (calf) and Maurkice Pouncey (knee), plus Isaac Redman (ankle) and Chris Carter (hamstring) did not play vs. the Bengals. The seventh player inactive for the game was Charlie Batch.

Jonathan Dwyer got the start at running back, and C/G John Malecki was added to the roster the day before the game from the practice squad to provide depth in the interior of the offensive line.