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What went right, wrong at Cincinnati

* This is what Steelers Football is now: On a third-and-1 on the opening series of the game, the Steelers deployed four wide receivers plus tight end Heath Miller. Ben Roethlisberger dropped a pretty pass right into Markus Wheaton's hands down the left sideline for a 31-yard gain.

  • Just like the Nov. 1 game at Heinz Field, the Steelers scored on their opening offensive possession. Ben Roethlisberger converted all three third downs on the drive, with a 31-yard pass to Markus Wheaton, then a 10-yard pass to Heath Miller on a third-and-7, and then with a 19-yard pass to Antonio Brown on a third-and-3 from the Bengals 20-yard line. DeAngelo Williams carried twice from there, with the second ending with him crossing the goal line standing up.
  • Brandon Tate returned the ensuing kickoff to the 33-yard line, but an illegal block in the back penalty on C.J. Uzomah put the ball back on the 10-yard line for Cincinnati's first offensive possession.
  • The Bengals moved to a first-and-goal on the 6-yard line on that possession, and after Jeremy Hill gained 2 yards to the 4-yard line, the Bengals decided to attempt a typically low-risk shovel pass to Giovani Bernard. Stephon Tuitt stepped in front of Bernard and intercepted the ball at the 7-yard line to end the Bengals' threat.
  • The second half began nicely for the Steelers. On the second play after receiving the kickoff – second-and-5 from the Cincinnati 25-yard line – A.J. McCarron attempted one of those quick sideline screen throws to a wide receiver. The intended target was Mohamed Sanu, but with James Harrison closing in on him fast. A.J. McCarron might have gotten a bit careless with the throw and William Gay ended up with the fifth pick-six of his Steelers career, with this one officially coming from 23 yards. That upped the Steelers lead to 23-7.
  • The Bengals were looking at a third-and-goal from the 5-yard line and a 26-10 deficit. As A.J. McCarron was attempting to pass, Cam Heyward drove the man blocking him into the backfield, and he ended up recording the sack for a 4-yard loss that set up a fourth down and a field goal attempt.
  • The Bengals were having some success throwing the ball down the middle of the field, but that's an especially dangerous thing when the ball is overthrown. That's what A.J. McCarron did on an attempt to Mohamed Sanu, and Robert Golden made the Steelers' third interception of the afternoon and returned it to the Cincinnati 16-yard line.

* On a second-and-12 from the Cincinnati 25-yard line, Andy Dalton completed an 18-yard pass to Tyler Eifert that became a bigger gain when Mike Mitchell was flagged for a personal foul for hitting a defenseless player. That gave the Bengals a first down at the Pittsburgh 42-yard line.

  • Before the game was 12 full minutes old, the Steelers had burned two timeouts to avoid delay of game penalties.

The Pittsburgh Steelers traveled to Paul Brown Stadium for an AFC North matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.

  • On back-to-black plays midway through the second quarter, the Bengals got away with pass interference penalties that weren't called. On the first, Dre Kirkpatrick grabbed and pulled on Martavis Bryant's arm in the end zone on a play where the result was in incomplete pass; on the second Vontaze Burfict wrapped up Heath Miller and tackled him on a play that ended with Ben Roethlisberger being sacked.
  • The Steelers built a 13-0 lead over the course of the first-quarter-and-a-half, but then they gave up more than half of it on one long completion to A.J. Green. Backup quarterback A.J. McCarron went deep down the sideline to Green, who made the catch over Antwon Blake and then escaped an attempted tackle by Mike Mitchell to complete a 66-yard touchdown that made it 13-7.
  • Three penalties for 52 yards on the Steelers in the second quarter, one of which was for 15 yards for an illegal crackback block on Antonio Brown that created a first-and-25 at the Cincinnati 41-yard line on a drive in which the Steelers ended up with 42-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.
  • One of the things A.J. McCarron learned at Alabama was the way to take advantage of situations where his team had the more talented player. He certainly was doing that with A.J. Green. On the Bengals' two scoring drives through the midway point in the third quarter, Green had a 66-yard touchdown catch, and then he made two catches for 39 yards on a 40-yard drive that ended in Mike Nugent's field goal.
  • After the Chris Boswell field goal on the opening play of the fourth quarter gave the Steelers a 26-10 lead, the Bengals opted for a hurry-up version of their offense. A third-and-2 became a big play when Giovani Bernard ran for 18 yards for a first down at the Pittsburgh 31-yard line.
  • Ben Roethlisberger saw single coverage on Martavis Bryant midway through the fourth quarter and he tried to take advantage. Safety Reggie Nelson came over from the middle of the field and made a nice play to intercept the pass inside the 5-yard line. It was the fifth straight game in which Nelson had recorded an interception.
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