On what could have been a night of celebration, the Steelers instead found themselves reaffirming their faith.
In themselves and in their quarterback.
"I got all confidence, 100-percent all-in with Big Ben," running back Benny Snell insisted following Monday night's 27-17 loss to the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. "I know that he knows what he's doing. He has the experience, he's been here before and we're gonna make the turnaround.
"My trust is in him."
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger became the seventh player in NFL history to surpass 60,000 career passing yards (60,007) and the sixth to go over 5,000 career completions (5,016).
But his 20 completions (on 38 attempts) and his 170 passing yards were his second-lowest totals of the season in those departments (Roethlisberger completed 14 passes and threw for 162 yards in the Steelers' 38-7 victory over Cleveland on Oct. 18).
Game action photos from the Steelers' Week 15 game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium
Roethlisberger also lost a fumble on a snap and was intercepted once against the Bengals.
He's thrown six interceptions over the last five games, including four in the last three, all of which have resulted in losses following the Steelers' 11-0 start.
Roethlisberger was only intercepted in two of the Steelers' first nine games (four total).
He threw for 19 yards (on 7-for-16 passing) in a first half on Monday night that ended with the Steelers trailing, 17-0.
"They just aren't starting early," defensive tackle Cam Heyward said of the offense. "Once they got going, they got going.
"I have firm confidence in what they can do, and Ben's the guy that's going to lead the ship."
The Steelers have missed consecutive opportunities to clinch the AFC North Division championship by losing at Buffalo on Dec. 13 (a win there coupled with what became a Cleveland loss on Dec. 14 against Baltimore would have gotten it done) and at Cincinnati last night.
They've also failed to score 20 points in four straight games after scoring at least 24 and averaging 29.9 over their first 10 games.
Roethlisberger characterized the frustration level as "high" in the wake of the losing streak reaching three but added, "I will never stop believing in these guys and this team. We'll push forward.
"We better get it figured out, and I think we can."
THEN AND NOW: Second-year Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley was making his eighth NFL appearance and his fourth NFL start (second against the Steelers).
Finley completed seven of 13 passes for 89 yards and a touchdown.
He had 12 completions and 192 yards in the Bengals' 16-10 loss to the Steelers on Nov. 24, 2019 at Paul Brown Stadium.
But this time he ran the ball 10 times for 47 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown that, coupled with an extra point, gave the Bengals a 24-10 lead with 11:21 left in the fourth quarter.
Finley carried twice for 8 yards last season against the Steelers.
"We knew they liked to run the zone-read more with him than the other quarterbacks they have," outside linebacker T.J. Watt said. "We had a gameplan in place."
Finley's touchdown capped a drive that saw the Bengals run eight times on nine snaps and cover 65 of the 80 yards they traveled on the ground.
Finley converted a third-and-5 from the Steelers' 39-yard line with an 8-yard keeper two plays before he scored.
"We let the quarterback get out," Heyward lamented. "We gave up a QB run to give them a little bit of breathing room. We're storming back in the third quarter but I felt like we let them off the hook as a defense."
RUNNING GAME REBOUND: The Steelers' 86 yards rushing constituted their second-highest total over the last eight games (106 on Nov. 22 at Jacksonville), as did their 23 rushing attempts (27 at Jacksonville).
Snell had 18 of the carries and 84 of the Steelers' rushing yards and had this to say when asked what was working with the running game: "They called running plays."
CONFIDENCE IS RELATIVE: Heyward and head coach Mike Tomlin both acknowledged the confidence the Steelers expressed in their ability to bounce back and start winning again would only take the team so far.
"I'm a firm believer that things don't change just by believing they will," Heyward said. "Our work has to reflect that and we gotta solve that in practice, whatever it takes. We gotta get to work and we gotta solve this and understand where we're falling short. I know we've had some guys injured but that's not an excuse. The guys that go out and play gotta get the job done."
Added Tomlin: "Shoot, we better not be confident after a performance like that. I'm not concerned about our confidence. We have work to do."