MNF: CINCINNATI BENGALS vs PITTSBURGH STEELERS
CINCINNATI BENGALS vs PITTSBURGH STEELERS
By: Robert L. Porter Jr
A good ole fashioned AFC North match up is on the docket for Monday night football as two of the Leagues top pass catchers share the field. A.J.Green and the Bengals host Antonio Brown and the Steelers as Cincinnati looks to get a win and keep their playoff hopes alive. Brown and Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are on a hot streak that they look forward to continuing tonight.
Big Ben and the Steelers get the ball first in this one. After a couple plays that went to LeVeon Bell and Antonio Brown, Ben is picked off by Adam Jones. On the first play of the Bengals drive Andy Dalton hits Tyler Kroft down the middle to put them in scoring position. After a delay where LB Ryan Shazier grabbed at his back, went limp and had to carted off, an incompletion to Green forces Cincy to kickback field goal and take the 3-0 lead. (Prayers going up to Shazier). On Pittsburgh’s 2nd possession, they started moving the field but a Big Ben misfire and a tipped pass forces them to punt it back to Dalton and his offense. They look sharp to start the drive as the Red Riffle fires some good passes as they head into Steelers territory. Joe Mixon looks ready to play as he’s gashed the Steelers on his first couple of carries but the drive would be capped by All-Pro wide out A.J. Green from 8 yards out to give the Bengals a 10-0 lead. Ben hits Martavis Bryant to start their next drive and that play ends the first Quarter of a stunning game thus far as the 9-2 Steelers trail 10-0.
The Bengals patient approach to LeVeon Bell seems to be working so far as they have bottled him up to start this game. A long drop by Bryant is followed by a sack of Big Ben as Cincinnati again forces them to kick it away. Dalton and Mixon continue to look good as they are able to pick up a few first downs but a very good defensive Play by Coty Sensabaugh on a pass intended for Green forces a punt. With Bell not doing much damage as of yet, it looks like Ben will have the task of bringing his team back in this one. A miscommunication between Roethlisberger and Brown results in an animated Ben and yet another punt as the team seems to be stuck in neutral after the Shazier injury. The pitch and catch between Dalton and Green continues and that mixed with a solid ground attack has the Steelers back pedaling and looking for answers. Giovanni Bernard is in replacing an Injured Mixon who suffered a concussion and has picked up where he left off. Another methodical drive by the Bengals just before the half sees them extend their lead to 17-0 as Dalton finds A J.Green for his 2nd TD and this one is from 15 yards out. The Steelers are looking for any kind of spark before halftime. They find it on a long PI call that puts them inside the 10 yard line but with only 5 seconds remaining they take the Chris Boswell 3 points to make the score 17- 3 at the half.
Cincinnati starts the 2nd half with a 3 & out then a punt. The score Pittsburgh got just before the half may have rejuvenated this team, they’ve moved into Bengals territory after a read option keeper by Ben. A check down to Bell that saw no Bengal decide to tackle him turns into a 35 yard TD pass for Ben as they cut the lead to just a touchdown. After Big Ben cuts into the lead the Cincinnati offense sis able to move down the field and they get close enough for a 41 yard field goal to push the score back up to 20-10. Pittsburgh is unable to do anything with their next possession as they punt it back to Marvin Lewis’ team after 4 plays. Bernard is showing good burst as he closes the 3rd quarter with 2 good runs.
To start the Final quarter, two Dalton incomplete passes forces the Bengals to punt. On their next possession, the Steelers offense finds themselves in a 4th & inches in their own territory but if they expect to comeback and win the game they need this and LeVeon Bell bust through the line to pick up the first and keep the drive going. A Dre Kirkpatrick pass interference moves Pittsburgh to the Bengals 21 yard line. An uncharacteristic drop by Brown on this rainy night forces them to kick a field goal instead of punching it in like they hoped they could have. The score is now 20-13 Cincy. Dalton takes the field with 10:02 remaining and he is looking for more points to put this one out of reach. Play one is a sack that’s followed by a false start then a Brandon LaFell drop. This is not the way Cincinnati expected this drive to go, after a screen pass to Bernard on 3rd & 23 they punt it away.
Big Ben and his offense takes the field with 8:01 on the clock just trailing by 7. its time to see if he still has IT because if he does have IT, his team needs IT right now. A roughing the passer call moves Pittsburgh up to the 40 but then a blind side block and taunting call by JuJu Smith-Schuster gives the yards right back. For the 2nd time tonight a player has to be immobilized and carted off, this time it was Vontaze Burfict. Two passes, one to Bell and the other to Brown moves Pittsburgh to the Bengal 25 with 5 and a half minutes remaining. A dart from Ben to Brown ties the game at 20-20. Cincinnati goes 3 & out at the worst possible time as the Steelers offense is red hit and they have 2:42 to go down and take the lead. Two LeVeon Bell runs takes the Steelers across the 50 and takes us to the 2:00 warning. A couple short passes moves them into Chris Boswell range as they look to complete this comeback. With 4 seconds left from 38 yards out after an offsides on Cincinnati, Boswell nails it and gives his team a 23-20 come from behind win on the road.
STARS OF THE GAME
Ben Roethlisberger – 24/40 290 yards 2 TDs 1 INT
Andy Dalton – 21/36 234 yards 2 TDs
A.j. Green – 7 rec 77 yards 2 TDs
Antonio Brown – 8 rec 101 yards 1 TD
LeVeon Bell – 18 rushes 76 yards, 5 rec 106 yards 1 TD
Giovanni Bernard – 13 rushes 77 yards, 2 rec 19 yards
STEELERS 23 – BENGALS 20