The highs and lows of the Steelers' 2016 home opener vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.
What went right
- Sammie Coates doesn't have a lot of catches, but he has been making an impact with the ones he has. On a third-and-9 at the Pittsburgh 35-yard line with about five minutes remaining in the first quarter, Coates broke off his route as Ben Roethlisberger slid out of the pocket to his left and got behind cornerback Darqueze Dennard. Roethlisberger delivered a perfect rainbow for a 44-yard gain to the Cincinnati 21-yard line.
- Production from the tight end position was expected to be less than normal for the Steelers, what with Heath Miller having retired and Ladarius Green on PUP. There was some hope that Xavier Grimble could develop into a factor in the passing game, but his inconsistency during the camp/preseason process was a bit disconcerting. But late in the first quarter, Grimble made the kind of play the Steelers believe he is capable of making. Extending himself to make a grab of a wet ball over the middle, Grimble then gathered himself and dove into the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown that gave the Steelers a 7-0 lead.
- There were three penalty flags thrown on a punt return by Adam Jones with 8:31 remaining in the second quarter. All three penalties were against the Bengals, and their offense took over at their own 9-yard line.
- The Steelers extended their lead to 10-3, and it was based on field position set up by the defense. After a Jordan Berry punt and a roughness penalty on the Bengals, Cincinnati took possession at its own 3-yard line. A three-and-out and a short punt by Kevin Huber put the Steelers in position for a 49-yard field goal by Chris Boswell.
- If at first you don't succeed … the Steelers made several attempts in the first half to attack the Bengals deep down the field – mostly unsuccessful – but on a first-and-10 from the Pittsburgh 38-yard line midway through the third period, they tried again. This time Sammie Coates got inside cornrback Darqueze Dennard, and Ben Roethlisberger's pass was on target for a 53-yard gain to the Bengals 9-yard line.
- On the next play, Roethlisberger went back to the position that has been unusually productive to this point in the season – the tight ends. Jesse James made a catch in traffic in the middle of the end zone for his second touchdown of the season and the Steelers' second touchdown of the day to take a 17-6 lead with six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
- First-and-goal at the 1-yard line, and the Steelers defense was trying to protect what was a 17-6 lead late in the third quarter. Ryan Shazier dumped Jeremy Hill for a 2-yard loss on first down. On second down, Andy Dalton completed a pass in the back of the end zone to tight end C.J. Uzomah, but Robert golden drove him out of bounds before he could get his feet down in-bounds. An incomplete pass on third down, and the Bengals settled
for another field goal, and the Steelers' lead was 17-9 at the end of the third quarter.
- The Steelers needed a score to extend their lead, and they also needed the score to eat some time off the clock. Both of those things happened on a 12-play, 68-yard drive that consumed 6:54 of the fourth quarter and ended with Le'Veon Bell catching a short touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger. That made it 24-9.
What went wrong
Game action from Week 2 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
- Last week, going for it on fourth down paid dividends for the Steelers in Washington, D.C., but in the first quarter here it backfired. On a fourth-and-5 from the Cincinnati 37-yard line midway through the first period, Ben Roethlisberger's pass for Antonio Brown was off target and intercepted by Adam Jones at the 23-yard line.
- The Bengals answered the Steelers touchdown drive by going 68 yards in eight plays, with Andy Dalton completing 4-of-5 for 59 yards on the possession. Mike Nugent's 25-yard field goal made it 7-3 at the end of the first quarter.
- It was a trio of mistakes on one play, and the Steelers ended up having to punt as a result. In pass protection, Jesse James dragged Carlos Dunlap down, Ben Roethlisberger slipped while moving around in the pocket, and then Antonio Brown dropped the pass that would have given the Steelers a first down.
- Two interceptions – one that was caught and one that was dropped – combined to put the Bengals in position to cut the Steelers lead to 10-6 at halftime. Ben Roethlisberger's second interception of the first half came on an attempted go-route for Sammie Coates down the right sideline. Dre Kirkpatrick was in good position throughout and maintained it to make the play and give the Bengals the ball. Then on a subsequent third-and-3 with 37 seconds left, Andy Dalton attempted to get the ball to Gio Bernard over the middle only to have Ryan Shazier read the play but drop the would-be interception. Mike Nugent's 33-yard field goal as time expired in the first half made it 10-6.
- On the possession following Jesse James' touchdown catch, the Bengals were aided considerably by a couple of phantom pass interference calls, both flagged by side judge Boris Creek. The first resulted in a 20-yard gain and gave the Bengals the ball on the Steelers' 14-yard line, and the second came on what would have been an incomplete pass on a third-and-6 at the Steelers' 10-yard line. That penalty was in the end zone and gave the Bengals a first down on the 1-yard line.
- The cushion the Steelers fashioned with that 68-yard touchdown drive lasted all of 3:23. Chris Boswell's kickoff went for a touchback, and Andy Dalton dinked the Bengals 75 yards in eight plays, and on the 25-yard touchdown pass to Gio Bernard, Sean Davis and Artie Burns – the Steelers two rookie defensive backs – both missed tackles to allow him to get down the left sideline and into the end zone.