Pittsburgh 27 – Cincinnati 21
The Pittsburgh Steelers turned a fumble, a blocked punt and an interception into 1st half points, and despite a wild finish in the 4th quarter and barely hanging on, the game was won for Pittsburgh in the 1st half.
The Steelers led 20-7 at the half, getting touchdowns from Rashard Mendenhall (1 yard run) and Hines Ward (8 Yard TD Rec) and two Jeff Reed field goals (25 yds, 53 yds).
After a scoreless third quarter, Antwaan Randle El threw a 39-yard touchdown pass off a trick play to Mike Wallace to give Pittsburgh a commanding 27-7 lead with 14:50 remaining in the 4th quarter.
It was Randle El’s 5th career touchdown pass and what appeared to be the knock out punch for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers though would let Cincinnati get back into the game and the Bengals passing game caught fire as Terrell Owens caught his second touchdown pass, a 27 yard pass from Carson Palmer to make it a 13 point game with 13:12 remaining in the game.
Pittsburgh had no answers for Owens who shined in the game, leading Cincinnati with 10 receptions for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns.
While the Steelers took advantage Cincinnati’s mistakes in the 1st half, Pittsburgh had to withstand quite a few of their own in the 4th quarter.
Pittsburgh’s inability to put away teams and close out games almost came back to bite them in what would have been a devastating loss for Pittsburgh.
Leading 27-13 mid-way through the 4th quarter, Ben Roethlisberger’s pass near the right sidelines for Heath Miller, on a 2nd and 7 play at the PIT 35 yard line was intercepted by Bengals safety Roy Williams and we suddenly had a ball game.
Two plays later, running back Cedric Benson scored a 1 yard touchdown to close out a 2 play – 36 yard drive and cut the Steelers lead to 27-21.
On the drive, Owens set up a 1st and goal as Ike Taylor was called for pass interference and the penalty was enforced at the 1 yard line.
With 9:05 remaining and taking over at their own 29 yard line, it was gut check time for Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh responded to the bell and played power football, relying heavily on Rashard Mendenhall.
Mendenhall had runs of 8, 3, 9, 18, no gain, 4, and 1 yard to move the chains and work off over five minutes off the clock.
The Steelers ran the ball on all 7 plays, including a 3rd and 6 call at the Bengals 29 yard line, taking the ball out of the Ben Roethlisberger’s hands who threw an interception on the previous drive.
Mendenhall moved the ball into field goal range, but Jeff Reed’s struggles in the clutch continued, as Reed missed a 46 yard field goal with 3:59 remaining in the game.
It was a crucial miss for the Steelers that would have given them a 9 point lead.
Pittsburgh again let an inferior team hang around, and Carson Palmer moved the ball down the field and Palmer appeared to be on the verge of beating the Steelers once again in the final minute of the ball game.
With under 50 seconds left, the Steelers defense stepped up and did just enough, stopping the Bengals on a 4th and 5th play at the 12 yard line, James Harrison broke up a pass intended for rookie Jordan Shipley in what would have given the Bengals a first down inside the 7 yard line.
Carson Palmer struggled mightily in the 1st half but made several plays in the 2nd half as the Bengals were better at protecting the passer. Palmer was 22 of 36 for 248 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception in the loss.
The Steelers are off to a 6-2 start for the second consecutive year. Pittsburgh improved to 6-0 all-time under head coach Mike Tomlin on Monday night’s.
On the stats front, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was 17 of 27 for 163 yards, throwing for 1 touchdown and 1 interception.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall had a strong game. Mendenhall led all rushers with 99 yards on 22 carries and added a touchdown, his 7th of the season. Receiver Mike Wallace came up with big catches, leading the Steelers with 5 receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, James Farrior led the Steelers with 11 tackles and a sack. James Harrison added a sack and 6 tackles, while Lawrence Timmons had 4 tackles and 1 interception.
Pittsburgh host the 6-2 New England Patriots on Sunday night in a week 10 AFC showdown.