Cheat Sheet: Steelers vs. Bengals

How to Watch/Listen

  • TV coverage: Broadcast locally in Pittsburgh on CBS (KDKA-TV)
  • Steelers Radio Network - Game coverage begins at 1:00 p.m. ET; Pregame programming begins at 9:00 a.m.; Postgame coverage starts immediately following the game.
  • Don't miss a minute of the action... check out all of the ways that you can watch, listen and follow along as the Steelers on gameday. Click here >>>

Injury Update

The Steelers continued their preparation for Sunday's AFC North matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals, with talk of who is practicing and who isn't one of the hottest topics in the city with a handful of starters on the injury report this week.

Check out the most updated Injury Report: Click here >>>

Series History

As divisional rivals, the Bengals and Pittsburgh have obviously met many times. Those meetings began in 1970. Pittsburgh leads the series 67-36. Two of those games occurred in the post season, in 2006 and 2016, with the Steelers winning both contests. Pittsburgh lost the most recent meeting 27-17 in Cincinnati last year, but the Steelers were on an 11-game winning streak in this series before that most recent loss. The Bengals have won just 10 of the 44 meetings that have taken place in the 2000s.

Take a look at the best photos from Week 2. The Steelers defeated the Bengals 24-16.

The Season So Far

  • Taking quarterback out of the equation, only the Raiders have fielded a younger squad than Pittsburgh through the first two weeks of the 2021 season.
  • Diontae Johnson has gotten double-digit targets in 12 of his last 16 games in which he has played at least 25% of the snaps. And his 2021 target share of 32% is far greater than Claypool and Smith-Schuster, both of whom check in with a 19% target share.
  • As for the Steelers top three wide receivers in yards per route run, they sit at: Claypool at 2.96, Johnson at 2.86 and Smith-Schuster at 1.74, who has run 79% of his routes this year from the slot.
  • Pittsburgh's defense has been extremely difficult to score on in the first and third quarters at the beginning of each half. Opposing offenses have only scored six points against the Steelers in the opening frame and they have given up just seven points in the third quarter.
  • Every team in the NFL averages more touches from their backfield (17) per game than Pittsburgh right now.
  • Pittsburgh used play action on 34% of their pass attempts against the Bills, but that percentage was cut in half to 17% in Week 2.
  • Not including special teams, the Steelers rookie class played 268 total snaps in Buffalo. Last week against the Raiders, the rookies were on the field for another 266 combined snaps.

Week 2 Snap Counts

  • Offensive notes: JuJu Smith-Schuster again paced the wide receivers by playing the most snaps of that group in Week 2. Pat Freiermuth was on the field for 33 snaps against the Raiders as compared to Eric Ebron's 24 and the rookie has played 11 more snaps of the two thus far this year. Zach Gentry's snap totals were cut in half from Week 1 to Week 2, with just eight snaps played against Las Vegas. (Steelers O)
  • Defensive notes: 15 defenders recorded at least one tackle last Sunday, which of course, does not include Devin Bush or Joe Haden, both of whom were inactive. That also doesn't include Tyson Alualu or Ahkello Witherspoon-both of whom played four snaps but didn't make a tackle. So, a whopping 17 Steelers defenders saw action against Las Vegas. Jamir Jones saw action for 15 snaps after TJ Watt left the game and rushed the passer on 10 of those 15 instances. The Steelers had five defenders play every snap against the Raiders: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Cameron Sutton, James Pierre and Joe Schobert. It may surprise some people that Tre Norwood has played 118 out of a possible 151 defensive snaps in his rookie season.
  • Special teams notes: Pittsburgh had 14 different players with at least nine special teams snaps of a possible 20 against the Raiders. Robert Spillane (20), Ulysees Gilbert (19), Miles Killebrew (19), Benny Snell (18), Derek Watt (18), Arthur Maulet (18), Marcus Allen (17) and James Pierre (15) led the way.

Bengals News, Notes & Stats

Offensive Personnel

  • In 2020, the Bengals employed 11 Personnel (1 RB/1 TE) on 76% of their offensive snaps and brought a fourth wide receiver on the field another 5% of the time. This is an offense that doesn't use a whole lot of different players. In fact, 12 players on this side of the ball played the bulk of the snaps against the Bears and five others saw the field for eight or less snaps in specific situations.
  • Tight end isn't a featured position in Cincinnati's offense. Drew Sample's .85 yards per route run was 43rd amongst 45 qualifiers last year and he was only targeted 59 times over his first two seasons in the league. The Bengals tight ends collectively were targeted just twice in Week 2.
  • Only two offenses attempted more passes from an empty backfield than Cincinnati last year. But Bengals quarterbacks were sacked a league-high 13 times in 2020 from empty sets.

On the Run

  • The Bengals ran the football on 53% of their Week 1 snaps against the Vikings and ran the ball at a 60% clip on first downs. In Week 2, Cincinnati ran the ball just 37% of the time.
  • Only one running back (Mark Ingram) in the NFL received more carries than Joe Mixon in Week 1 and Mixon played 78% of Cincinnati's offensive snaps in the opener. Mixon touched the football more (33 times) than any running back in the league in Week 1. He also ran 18 routes in Week 1. Last week, Mixon was the Bengals only running back that carried the football.
  • Mixon was Cincinnati's leading rusher last year, but with only 428 yards on the ground. Through two games in 2021, he already has 196 rushing yards.
  • In Joe Burrow's rookie year, he averaged 14.2 rushing yards per game. But so far this year as Burrow returns from his knee injury, he has only one rushing attempt for just two yards.

The Passing Game

  • Before last week, Burrow had thrown just five interceptions in his short career over 11 games and went four games in a row without throwing the ball to the other team. But last week against the Bears, Burrow threw three interceptions.
  • In nine of the 10 games Tee Higgins has played with Burrow, he has recorded at least 60 receiving yards or a receiving touchdown. Higgins also led all rookies in end zone targets in 2020.
  • Last week, Chase, Higgins and Boyd all saw at least 48 snaps out of the possible 55 that Cincinnati's offense ran against the Bears.
  • In terms of yards per route run, Higgins' 1.82 was 32nd last year and Boyd's 1.65 ended up 50th in the league. AJ Green finished 97th and is now in Arizona. This year, through two games Higgins averages 2.0, Boyd is at 1.5 and Chase sits at 1.45.
  • But their average depth of target tells a different story with Chase at 17.9, Higgins at 10.0 and Boyd at 6.3.

The Bengals D

  • Carl Lawson's 5.5 sacks led the Bengals last year. But Lawson is now a New York Jet. However, Cincinnati did sign Trey Hendrickson who recorded 13.5 last year with the Saints.
  • In 2020, the Bengals allowed 5.8 yards per carry when the opponent was in 11 Personnel with three wide receivers on the field. That was the worst in the NFL. So far in 2021, Pittsburgh's offense is operating out of 11 Personnel 78% of the time.
  • 20 different defensive players saw action for Cincinnati last week against the Bears.


  • Pittsburgh has allowed 42 points this year. The Bengals have allowed 44 including a Bears pick six last week. Only eight teams have given up fewer points than these two teams.
  • The Steelers offense is running 2.18 plays per minute of play thus far this year. That is one of the slowest paces in the entire league. But the Bengals are only snapping the ball 1.95 times per minute, which obviously is an even slower pace.
  • Both offenses are not excelling with time of possession. Currently, the Bengals rank 23rd (28:15 per game) while Pittsburgh sits at 28th possessing the football just 26:10 on average over two games.
  • The Steelers are averaging just 37.5 penalty yards per game, which is the fourth fewest. Cincinnati is one of the three teams that are even better at 36 penalty yards per game.

The Advanced Scout Podcast

Check out Matt's podcast preview on the Raiders: Listen Here >>>

Matt's Most Memorable Moment: January 10, 2016: Steelers 18, Bengals 16

Cincinnati was without their starting quarterback Andy Dalton for this playoff game, but they had been to the post season in five of the previous six years and were a very talented football team. It was AJ McCarron that started this Wild Card matchup in Cincinnati and after a Ben Roethlisberger shoulder injury, the Steelers had to turn to Landry Jones during this game. Jones' first pass was intercepted by Vontaze Burfict. That interception gave the Bengals the ball with 1:36 to play with a 16-15 lead and the ball at its own 26-yard line. But Ryan Shazier stripped the ball from Jeremy Hill, the Steelers recovered, and Roethlisberger returned to the game. After moving the team down the field, a 15-yard Burfict penalty put the Steelers in field goal range to win the game. But then, Adam Jones was called for his own 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty and the ball was moved to the 17-yard line. Chris Boswell sealed the deal and the Steelers moved onto the next round of the playoffs in Denver.

Facts from NFL Research

  • The Bengals have lost five straight road games vs. the Steelers, their longest losing streak in Pittsburgh since they lost their first ten games there in franchise history from 1970-79.
  • The Steelers have not lost consecutive home games since Weeks 2 & 4, 2018.
  • T.J. Watt has 7.5 sacks in 8 career games vs. the Bengals, the most by any player vs. CIN since 2017.
  • Joe Burrow would be the first #1 overall pick QB to win a road game in Pittsburgh in his first two seasons since David Carr in Week 14, 2002.
  • Burrow had a career-low 52.5 comp pct in his only previous game vs. the Steelers (36-10 loss in Week 10, 2020).

Key Matchups

  • Bengals Offensive Line vs. Steelers Defensive Front-The Jets have allowed 10 sacks this year, the most in the NFL. But Cincinnati is right behind them, allowing nine sacks combined against the Vikings and Bears. The Bengals won't have to worry about Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu this week and TJ Watt's and Alex Highsmith's status for Sunday is still up in the air as of this writing. Still, the combination of Cameron Heyward and Melvin Ingram could still create a lot of issues for Joe Burrow and his offensive line. The health of Watt and Highsmith is obviously a huge factor here.
  • Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger vs. Bengals FS Jessie Bates-Bates very well could be Cincinnati's best defensive player. He has only missed one snap thus far in 2021 and is a very dangerous player on the backend of the Bengals defense that Roethlisberger must be very aware of. Bates has never missed an NFL game and has three interceptions in each of his first three seasons in the league. Bates, now in his fourth season, is only 24 years old and just getting into the prime of his career. Throwing the ball to the deep middle of the field is something that Pittsburgh needs to do better and more often, but by doing so, that is testing one of Cincinnati's premier players.