Sunday, December 4, 2011

All Three Phases: Steelers Win


Not often will I utter this sentence, but it was a beautiful December day at Heinz Field.

Might have to call up Al Gore to figure out how it was 60 degrees in Pittsburgh in December. The defense got the nod for pre-game intros.

Ike runs out with a terrible towel over his face. Swagger city.

Steelers won the toss and elected to receive but don't do anything with it and punt it away. Kapinos kills a 59-yarder to flip the field.

Dalton comes out and makes a big throw to AJ Green in double coverage. Green goes up and snags it over Ike for a huge gain. Cincy gets inside the 10 but then bungles it away after a penalty nullifies a touchdown. On fourth down, they take another penalty making it a longer field goal. Cam Heyward busts through the line and gets a paw on the ball for the Steelers first blocked field goal since Aaron Smith blocked a Rob Bironas kick against Tennessee.

With all the momentum on their side, the Steelers come out and lay another egg.

The Bengals come back and drive across midfield, mostly on the back of Cedric Benson, but a holding penalty puts an end to their drive.

After two failed drives, Ben comes out ready to do work. He hits Hines to get things started then Weslye over the middle. Mendenhall gets a carry then Ben hits AB on a slant that AB breaks between two defenders and cuts across the field, going all the way down the sideline to the 15.

Second Quarter

The Steelers pound Redman 3 times to get down to the 3, then Mendenhall comes in and finishes it off.


The Bengals respond by going 3-and-out.

Ben comes back and takes a shot deep for Wallace. The ball hangs in the air forever and Wallace is able to draw a pass interference call. With the ball at the 20, it's back to Mendenhall, who takes only 3 carries to find paydirt, getting there on a pitch play from the 5 where he makes a beautiful cut to find the hole and dances into the end zone.


On the ensuing kickoff, Sylvester gets a piece of the returner, knocking the ball free and Manny Sanders digs it out of a scrum.

AB makes a few moves on a reverse to get inside the red zone. On the next play, Ben rolls out away from pressure and finds Mike Wallace wide open in the back of the end zone.



That's the killer instinct we've been talking about all season where you come out and stretch the lead out.

But Cincinnati came back with a fire under them. Honestly, it was do-or-die for the Bungles at this point. Dalton looked exclusively for AJ Green, because he was just a monster against Ike Taylor. Ike is a great player, but he gives up at least a half foot to AJ Green and even more in arm length. Nothing you can do when Green is making leaping catches all over the field. Green and Benson lead the Bungles down the field. As they get down into the red zone, Dalton extends a play by scrambling away from pressure and is able to find Green wide open in the end zone.


Ben gets sacked but comes back and hits Hines across the middle for a 12-yard gain that puts him over 12,000 career receiving yards. Manny Sanders converts a 3rd down then the wheels fall off. In a horrible display of clock management, Ben gets sacked then rushes the team to the line as the clock winds towards the two minute warning. Rather than letting the clock wind all the way to 2, Ben snaps the ball and throws an incompletion on the same out-route to Moore he missed on at the end of the Ravens game. With 2:05 left on the clock, the Steelers had to run their 3rd down play before the two-minute warning. They run a draw to get better punting position. Kapinos crushes one 57 yards.

The defense locks it down and forces 3 incompletions, giving us a chance to get the ball back and put points on the board.

Enter Antonio Brown. Touchdown Brown would rather just do it all himself. He fields the punt, catches a block from Special Teams Player of the Year Curtis Brown, cuts outside a block from Bryant McFadden and turns on the afterburners and blows past the punter.

First punt return touchdown since Santonio Holmes hurdled Mike Scifres in the 2008 playoffs.


Big-time response before the half.

With 1:16 left, the Bengals decide to give Dalton a chance to move the team downfield, but Darth Harrison almost breaks Dalton's arm with his tomahawk from the backside. The Bungles give up and head into the locker room.

Third Quarter

The Bengals pick up a first down on the back of Benson, but they do nothing else.

The Steelers go 3-and-out but more importantly Ramon Foster's ankle got rolled and he limped off the field. Kapinos blasts a 57-yard punt. What a game for Jeremy. 

Darth Harrison rings up another sack and the Bengals go 3-and-out.

With Ramon Foster out, Trai Essex comes in at right guard and the running game flat out dominates. Mendenhall and Redman just take the show over. Redman rips off the best run of the series going 27 yards up the middle when he just refuses to go down. Hines picks up a few more catches and gets a facemask call then the refs flag Essex for holding as a make-up to the Bengals. Arians decides it a good a time as ever to go back to the well with the WR screen. Mike Wallace makes a fantastic individual play and breaks unlimited tackles, spinning and bursting his way through the entire defense and into the end zone.


The Bungles were obviously flustered because they decided it would be a good idea not to block Darth Harrison.

That ended well for Dalton. 

That was Harrison's third sack of the game which tied some other Steelers record for 3-sack games. Speaking of threes, it was another 3-and-out for Cincy.

Hines gets another catch, his fifth of the game bringing him within 10 of 1,000. AB hauls in a big grab over the middle to convert a 3rd down.

Fourth Quarter

Mendenhall carries them to the fringe of field goal range, but the drive stalls out. Tomlin elects to give Suisham a try at a 50-yard field goal into the open end. The kick has enough distance but just misses wide right.

The Bengals throw up the white flag and bring in Pittsburgh native Bruce Gradkowski at quarterback. Bruce does a good job handing off to Cedric Benson, but he tries to force one to AJ Green and Ike undercuts it beautifully on the sideline for his second interception in two games.

Homestead Charlie comes in to wind some clock but can't pick up a first down.

Gradkowski moves the Bengals up to midfield but the Bengals decide that holding Harrison is a better option than letting him ring up another quarterback.

The Steelers take over with 4 minutes left and are able to run out the clock thanks to a running into the kicker penalty.

Victory Formation.


Players of the Game

Offensive Game Ball: Rashard Mendenhall
Defensive Game Ball: James Harrison

Honorable Mentions:
Mike Wallace
Antonio Brown
Jeremy Kapinos
Curtis Brown
Hines Ward
Cameron Heyward
Ike Taylor

Mr. Yuck Sticker of the Game


Honestly, there isn't much to complain about from this game. We started slow, but put together a great second quarter and finally were able to put a team away. So, for once, I've got nothing here. Even AJ Green, who is going to be a heck of a player in this league, making some big catches over Ike Taylor can't make me too upset. Green might just be a rookie, but he's got a big height advantage on any defensive back and has the talent to go up and make leaping catches that only a few guys in the league can make.

Final Thoughts
  • What a game by Jeremy Kapinos. He averaged 54.2 yards per punt. Even though it was warm out, that's a heck of a game.
  • Even though Mendenhall didn't rush for 100 yards, he still had a heck of a game. He was consistent all game, ran hard after contact, and found paydirt twice to boot.
  • Can we say enough about what Antonio Brown brings to the game? He turned a simple slant route into a 45-yard gain to set up our first touchdown AND delivered our first punt return since the Santonio Holmes era.
  • This was easily the most complete game we've played all season. After a slow start in the first quarter, all three phases clicked and we dominated in every aspect of the game.
  • Curtis Brown has put together a great season on special teams. He brings it every play. That's how you earn a hat on Sundays. He's going to be a great player in our defense some day.
  • Never, ever question what James Harrison can do for this defense.
  • Cleveland on Thursday night. Buckle up.

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