STEELERS 35, BENGALS 7
Steelers' record: 9-3
One year ago: 9-3
Series record (including playoffs): Steelers lead, 52-32
Coach Mike Tomlin talked about the keys to the game against the Bengals: "As always, we need to do nice job in the turnover battle, and I'd also like us to distinguish ourselves in the red area. We have to be better offensively in the red area than we were last week. We were 1-for-3, and not only were we 1-for-3 but we turned the ball over in one instance and got no points. And defensively, if they happen to get down there we desire field goal attempts as opposed to extra points."
On their first possession of the game, the Bengals had six points taken off the scoreboard when a false start penalty on A.J. Green wiped out a 4-yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to Jermaine Gresham. After a subsequent incomplete pass to Gresham, the Bengals lined up for an 18-yard field goal attempt by Mike Nugent. A delay of game penalty moved the Bengals back an additional 5 yards, and then Cameron Heyward blocked Nugent's 23-yard field goal attempt. Ryan Clark recovered the ball, and the Steelers took over at the 18-yard line.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT I
Hines Ward became the 19th player in NFL history to have over 12,000 yards receiving, and he needs 10 more catches to reach 1,000 for his career.
STAT THAT STANDS OUT II
Ben Roethlisberger now has 2,026 completions in his career to pass Terry Bradshaw atop the team's all-time list in that category.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
* After a 45-yard catch-and-run by Antonio Brown resulted in a first down at the 15-yard line, the Steelers ran the ball four straight times for the game's first touchdown. Isaac Redman carried the first three times for 12 yards, and the Rashard Mendenhall punched it across from the 3-yard line.
- On a third-and-10 on Cincinnati's third offensive series, Andy Dalton was back to pass but was forced to pull the ball down and run when Brett Keisel got up high in his throwing lane. Ziggy Hood tackled Dalton for a 2-yard gain, and the Bengals punted.
- Rashard Mendenhall's second touchdown run – with 10:12 left in the first half – was a great individual effort. On a sweep to the right, Mendenhall appeared to be hemmed in as he got to the sideline, but he cut back and got into the end zone to give the Steelers a 14-0 lead.
- On the kickoff following Mendenhall's second touchdown, Stevenson Sylvester stripped the ball from Brandon Tate and Emmanuel Sanders recovered for the Steelers at the 23-yard line. Three plays later, Mike Wallace caught a 12-yard touchdown pass for a 21-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
- Not even a holding penalty that set up a first-and-goal at the 19-yard line was enough to derail the Steelers offense. Trai Essex's penalty nullified a Rashard Mendenhall run to the Bengals 4-yard line, but on the next play a quick throw to Mike Wallace in the flat turned into a touchdown when he made five Bengals miss on his way into the end zone.
- It was the second time in the past four games that James Harrison registered at least three sacks. Harrison's previous three-sack game this season came on Nov. 6 against the Ravens.
- With 10:14 left in the game, the Steelers replaced Roethlisberger with Charlie Batch, and it had nothing to do with injury or poor performance.
WHAT WENT WRONG
* On the possession after Mike Wallace's touchdown was good for a 21-0 lead, the Bengals marched 80 yards to a touchdown, and they did it by eating up yardage in big chunks. Jermaine Gresham had a 20-yard reception, and A.J. Green caught passes of 15, 14 and then 11 yards for Cincinnati's first touchdown.
- It was the second time Ben Roethlisberger was sacked on the day – and it came on a nice athletic play by Bengals DE Michael Johnson – but it was historically significant in that it was the 308th time Roethlisberger had been sacked. That broke the franchise record of 307 that had been held by Terry Bradshaw.
- There had been much anticipation over the return of LaMarr Woodley, who had not played since injuring a hamstring in the second half against New England on Oct. 30. But it quickly became apparent that Woodley was not at full strength, and he was out of the game by the second series, replaced by Jason Worilds.
Said Coach Mike Tomlin, "There were some minor injuries, bumps and bruises along the way, many of which I won't mention. Ramon Foster did have a left ankle sprain. He was not able to return to the game. We will see where he is for Thursday night. LaMarr Woodley felt a little tweak. There's no major damage. He might be in play for Thursday night but we didn't want to do any further damage to him today. We will see where we are. We will move on to preparing for Cleveland. Our guys have to do a good job above the neck, preparing and taking care of their bodies on this short week."