PITTSBURGH 30 – CINCINNATI 20
Despite their playoff odds being about 1,000 to 1, the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-8) looked like the team playing for the No. 2 seed. The Steelers roared to a 21-0 first quarter lead, en route to a 30-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals (9-5) on Sunday night.
It was a dominant night for the Steelers in all three phases and it was probably their most impressive win from the standpoint of dominating all three phases of the game against a quality playoff opponent since the 2011 season when they went 12-4.
The Steelers looked fast and explosive on defense and for one night played like a Steelers football team that in the past prides itself on physicality. From the start you could tell it was just going to be the Steelers night.
“Really, a kind of a team victory,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “I thought we rode the wave that the special teams provided there early on in the first half of the game with a short field on the botched punt and then obviously the punt return. But just largely a really good effort by a lot of people in all three phases, and really what was required tonight, obviously, versus a very good team,” Tomlin said.
Some Highlights from the win:
— Antonio Brown combined for 145 yards and 2 touchdowns as he is just having an unbelievable season from a statistical standpoint. Brown hauled in 5 catches for 66 yards and a touchdown, and added a 67 yard punt return touchdown that put the Steelers up 14-0. He’s the clear Steelers MVP this season.
— The Steelers scored 27 first half points, marking just the third time this season in 14 games that the Steelers have scored 11 points or more in the first half. Slow starts from the offense have put a lot of pressure in games on a suspect Steelers defense for the most part this season but not tonight and that was huge.
— Ben Roethlisberger was efficient going 20/25 for 191 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception. Roethlisberger posted a 95.2 QB rating in the win and is playing his best football of the season down the stretch, though, too little too late from him. Roethlisbeger has thrown 12 touchdowns and 1 interception in his last five games.
— Le’Veon Bell had 107 yards from scrimmage and continues to evolve into a great asset in catching the ball out of the backfield, something the Steelers haven’t had in years from a No. 1 running back. That said, Bell rushed for just 57 yards on 24 carries, 2.4 yards per carry. As a runner he still hasn’t flashed a ton that makes you feel he’ll be a star, a label many pundits are wrongly already giving him.
— The Bengals looked like an uninspired team from the start and they came in with an odd game plan rarely attacking the Steelers deep through the air. A.J. Green is often looked at as the second best receiver in football. That’s the case when he plays every other team except Pittsburgh.