The game starts with the Bengals trying to impersonate the Pirates and have their fans be excited by fireworks.
Great exchange between my wife and I before the game as NBC shows stock footage of the Cincinnati skyline.
Wife: "What's with all these bridges?"
Me: "Cincinnati is the Queen City of the Ohio."
Wife: "Is that like being the Mayor of Shit Village?"
My wife is awesome.
CCR takes the opening kickoff back to the 40. Two WR screens move us across midfield. Ben keeps things rolling with a big 3rd down pass to Brown to get us into field goal range. The drive stalls out when Wallace drops a 3rd down pass that hits him right in the hands. Gotta make those catches if you want the big bucks, Mike.
The kickin' Canuck nails it.
Law Firm gashes the Steelers on first down, then Dalton converts a 3rd down on an out-route. Law Firm blows through arm tackles to convert another 3rd down and move the Bengals int field goal range. Marvin Lewis holds nothing back and opts to go for it on 4th and 1 at the 20 and Law Firm converts. The Steelers can't stop the Law Firm and he picks up another first down on 3rd and short inside the 5. Too many arm tackles on defense. The Bengals pound it in.
Wallace starts the next drive right were he left off, dropping a ball that hits him right in the hands. Thankfully, we have Ben Roethlisberger. He does his Ben thing and slides away from two defenders and finds Cotch downfield to convert a 3rd down. Two passes to Heath get us into 3rd and 1.
Dwyer moves the chains. A hold puts us back in long yardage, but AB bails us out on 2nd down with a big catch and run to move the sticks. Brown put a sick cut-back move on the corner to turn it back and get to the sideline. All Antonio Brown does is make big plays.
Haley tries some trickeration with a throwback to AB and he throws it downfield to a wide open Baron Batch who lets the ball bounce off his fingertips. Ugh. Great play-call, would have been an easy touchdown if Batch had caught it. Man. Wallace holds on to one to move the chains but Ben gets greedy and tries to go down the seam to Heath in double coverage, but the safety intercepts it in the end zone.
She's on fire tonight, even if the Steelers aren't.
Thankfully, the Bengals go 3-and-out when a 3rd down pass goes right through Gresham's hands.
A penalty on the punt sets us back but on the first play Ben is sacked and fumbles. Bengals take over inside the 10. Puke.
Dalton hits Green on a slant for the quick score.
Dwyer puts the team on his back and single-handedly carries us out past midfield. AB picks up another first down on an end-around to get us inside the 40. We throw for the first time on the drive and it's a WR screen to AB to get us into 3rd and medium. Ben takes a shot deep for Wallace but it's dropped again. Yikes. After review, it looks like Hall got a piece of the ball, but Wallace still should've had it. Suisham connects from 47.
The Bengals get into their 2-minute offense and hit Gresham on a TE screen that gets them across midfield, but the good ol' Bungles strike back when the ball slips out of Dalton's hand and Woodley comes down with the interception.
HUGE. HUGE. HUGE. Turnover.
Ben hits Brown on an out-route for another first down to get us into the red zone. Sanders gets us into 2nd and short. Dwyer moves the sticks inside the 10. On second down, Ben steps up in the pocket and guns one to Heath across the middle for a HUGE touchdown with a corner hanging all over him.
Tomlin opts to go for 2 and in a bizarre turn of events the refs don't let Ben take a timeout after the Bengals substitute, so Ben runs the play and sends Heath out wide and throws a beautiful fade pass to tie the game.
Cincy kneels it out to go to the half. Somehow, even though we played probably our worst half of the season, the game is tied.
Hidden stat of the first half - Antonio Brown had 5 catches and 1 carry. Of his 6 touches, 5 of them moved the chains and picked up first downs.
All Antonio Brown Does Is Make Big Plays.
The Bengals pick up right where they left off - converting 3rd downs and moving the ball. Dalton takes a shot deep for Green on 3rd down but Keenan Lewis is there playing centerfield to knock the ball away. Not sure why a corner is playing centerfield in the defense, but it worked. Ted Nugent makes a 48-yarder.
Ben goes right back to gunslinging and hits AB across the middle off play-action to move us into Bengals territory. Wallace gets a first down on an end-around but Ben gets sacked setting us back. Wallace gets some of it back on a WR screen but the Steelers can't convert on 3rd down. Suisham ties it up.
The Steelers force a 3rd and long and Dalton gets flushed from the pocket. Ziggy gets a paw up and makes his second deflection of the game. Big stand by the defense.
The offense doesn't do anything with it and we punt for the first time in the game.
The defense puts the clamps on and Woodley almost gets a sack and forces a throw-away on 3rd down.
The Steelers get stuck in 3rd and 8, but Ben has time and zings one to AB over the middle to move the chains. First and 2nd down continue to be a struggle, but Ben steps up in the pocket and hits Sanders streaking across the middle who takes it all the way down to the 14.
Creedance Chris Rainey takes one straight up the gut and gashes the Bengals defense for the touchdown.
Have You Ever Seen the Rainey?
The Bengals pick up a first down then the defense locks it down and forces a punt.
Todd Haley gives Bruce Arians the finger and goes run-run-run with Dwyer gashing the Bengals up the middle on 3rd and 5. Near midfield, Ben tries to go deep to Brown on 3rd down but throws it too close to the sideline and Brown can't get his feet in. Punt.
Ike redeems himself for the touchdown earlier and knocks a ball away from Green on 3rd down.
On the 2nd play, Ben goes play-action and hits Heath wide open down the seam, rumbling into Bengals territory down to the 36. Ben gets sacked on 2nd down, then Wallace drops a slant pass on 3rd down. Ben pooches one inside the 15 on 4th down. Nice call.
Inexplicably, the Bengals go run-run-pass and AJ Green almost makes an incredible catch, but he can't hang on and Ben gets the ball back with 4 minutes to go.
AB goes nowhere on an end-around, then Ben goes play-action and hits Wallace who makes a diving catch for the first down. Marvin challenges the catch, but there isn't enough evidence to overturn it. First down Steelers. Dwyer busts one up the middle for another first down, taking it across midfield. The Bengals use their last timeout with 2:30 to go. Dwyer gets another call and the clock winds to 2.
Two Minute Warning
Dwyer takes it inside the 40 to set up 3rd and 6. Dwyer takes it right up the middle and gashes the Bengals, taking it all the way down inside the 10 before getting caught from behind.
Players of the Game
Offensive Game Ball: Antonio Brown
Defensive Game Ball: LaMarr Woodley
- You've heard me talk a lot about the Steelers 5-13 record under Tomlin in road games outside of Eastern Time, but how about their 21-8 record in road games IN Eastern Time? That's impressive.
- Antonio Brown had 9 touches (7 catches, 2 carries) and picked up 7 first downs (6 on catches, 1 on an end-around). All he does is make big plays.
- Woodley's interception was the game-changer. Bengals driving with under 2 minutes to go with an 8-point lead, and we're able to turn it around into a tie game at halftime.
- From @btsteelcurtain - the Bengals had 80 yards of offense on their first drive of the game, and just 95 the entire rest of the game.
- First career touchdown for Chris Rainey. Great to see him getting more involved in the offense. Great blocking by the line to open up that hole. This was a fantastic job by Haley to adjust - the Bengals were backing off and playing Cover-2 when Rainey was in to watch against trickery, so we just ran it right at them.
- Um...Mike Wallace, can we talk a minute? 4 drops? Yeah, that's not going to get you Fitz money. That might not even get you what you're making this year. Gotta hang on to the ball, bro.
- The go-ahead touchdown at the beginning of the 4th quarter gives Ben his 28th career Game Winning Drive. According to Pro Football Reference's method of counting, Ben's 28 Game Winning Drives rank 16th all time. That's pretty darn good.
- Heath Miller is having a Pro Bowl season. For real.
- I absolutely loved the trick play call with AB throwing the ball. It was great design and execution, Batch just dropped the ball.
- Props to Keenan Lewis. He had the best game of his career. He was aggressive in pass defense and had the biggest breakup of the game when he got deep to take a touchdown away from AJ Green.
- I was pulling for Daniel Hrapmann in the preseason, but Shaun Suisham has been superb this season. He nailed kicks of 42, 47 and 42 and is 5-for-5 from 40-49 this season after being only 6-for-11 from that distance last year.