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Xtra Points: A spark, 'The Wizard'

Posted Dec 18, 2016

Le'Veon Bell, Chris Boswell, and the entire defense all played a role in the win.

Bell ringer: Le’Veon Bell once again provided the spark on offense in the Steelers 24-20 win over the Bengals. While his numbers weren’t what many have become accustomed to, he had 23 carries for 93 yards.

Bell also had five receptions for 38 yards. He now has at least 100 yards from scrimmage in six consecutive games and in 10 of the 11 games he has played in 2016.

D gets it done: It was a tale of two halves against the Bengals. In the first half the Bengals had 15 first downs and 68 yards rushing. The Bengals finished the game with 19 first downs, and in the second half a fired-up defense held them to eight, yes eight yards rushing.  

“We are going to fight until the last whistle,” said Ryan Shazier. “We understood we weren’t playing good enough in the first half. We knew we had to come out and play better ball and that’s what we did. We really didn’t do much different. We just did our job better. Everybody understood they weren’t doing their job good enough. They weren’t beating the guy in front of them. They just weren’t doing enough. We came in and understood that’s what we need to do.”  

Off to see the wizard: Two weeks ago Chris Boswell was inactive battling an abdominal injury. Today he connected on a single game career high six field goals, tying a Steelers record for most field goals in a game (Jeff Reed: 12/1/02 and Gary Anderson: 10/23/88).

“I was hitting the ball well,” said Boswell. “Getting six field goals and making six of them is a pretty good day.”

Boswell accounted for 18 of the Steelers 24 points in the win, and they weren’t chip shots. He hit from 49 yards three times, once from 45 yards, and also from 40 and 30 yards. Not a bad day at the office by a long shot.

“Boswell did a heck of a job making sure all of our possessions were productive ones,” said Tomlin. “I can’t say enough about his effort. He kicked six field goals. That is big business. He needs no endorsement from me. I just gave him a game ball.”  

Flag football: Penalties were costly to the Steelers in the first half. On the Bengals first drive it appeared the defense stopped Cincinnati, but a facemask call on Stephon Tuitt kept the drive alive. And it was doubly costly. Tuitt was injured on the play and didn’t return, and the Bengals moved the ball down the field, eventually scoring on a Randy Bullock field goal for a 3-0 lead.

On the Bengals second drive, a pass interference call on Artie Burns gave Cincinnati the ball at the Steelers’ one-yard line. It took Cincinnati four tries, but Andy Dalton was able to dive in for a one-yard touchdown and a 10-3 lead.  

In the second quarter a 13-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown was nullified by a chop block call on Le’Veon Bell, and instead of putting seven points on the board the Steelers had to settle for a Chris Boswell field goal, with the Bengals up 17-6 at that point.

“In the first half we worked against ourselves some on those three specific plays that transferred directly to points,” said Tomlin. “At halftime we were able to gather ourselves and minimize some of the negativity we were creating and we went on and put together a win.

In the second half, though, it was a different story. It was the Bengals who would get bit by penalties, with seven in the second half for 71 yards, all of them by the defense and proving costly as the Steelers were able to go into victory formation following a late pass interference call.

Notable and Quotable:

- The Steelers have won five consecutive regular-season games in a season for the first time since 2009.

- David DeCastro: “No one panicked. We kept our cool down the stretch.”

- Ben Roethlisberger: “We just kept grinding and continued to make plays.”