Pre-Game Extra Curricular Activities:
When will the Bengals learn? They still love to continue to poke the bear when there is no need to be poking the bear. Renowned cheap shot artist, Vontaze Burfict, sought out Steelers linebacker Vince Williams before the game even started, to inquire about a his tweet following their previous matchup. From that point, the Steelers intensity shot up to another level, leaving the Bengals in a position they weren’t expecting nor wanting be in. Any chance that Cincinnati had of winning this game disappeared the moment Burfict approached Vince Williams, because an already focused Steelers team was now highly agitated.
Offense Strikes Quickly:
The Steelers offense took to the field first, and just as in their first matchup, they scored a touchdown on their opening drive, when Deangelo Williams ran it in from the one. The big play on the opening drive was a 31 yard pass play to Wheaton, sandwiched in between critical 3rd down completions to Heath Miller and Antonio Brown. On the third play of the game, Antonio Brown was trading “punches” with Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who thought he could intimidate Brown for some stupid reason. It looked like Brown was smiling throughout that confrontation. Where have we seen that before, from a Steelers receiver?
Even though Stephon Tuitt only got in on two tackles for the game, he gave the Bengals fits all game. He spent most of his time occupying multiple members of the Bengals offensive line, but one play he made changed the entire complexion of the game.As the Bengals were looking to punch one into the endzone, to answer the Steelers opening drive, from the 7 yard line, Tuitt blew into the backfield from his right side spot. At the same moment, Andy Dalton attempted an ill advised shuffle pass to Giovanni Bernard, that Tuitt promptly intercepted. The pass almost looked like it was intended for Tuitt. During his short interception return, Dalton fractured the thumb on his throwing hand trying to bring the big fella down, and would not return to the game. I’m surprised the refs didn’t penalize Tuitt for roughing the quarterback.
The Wizard Of Boz:
Chris Boswell had yet another strong performance, going a perfect 4/4 on his field goal attempts, hitting from 42, 45, with a long of 47 yards. He hit all three of his extra point attempts as well. For the season Boswell has hit over 91 percent of his kicks, and looks like he could be a permanent fixture. The guy has ice in his veins and an extremely strong leg. He recently received a fine from the NFL this past week, for his violent tendencies when making special teams tackles.
Ben Owns The Bengals in Cincinnati:
Throughout the course of his career, Ben has found comfort playing the Bengals in their own stadium, pretty much making it his own. In the twelve games that Ben has played there, he is 10-2 during the regular season, throwing for 2,802 yards and 16 touchdown passes. In his last two games there, he has 632 yards passing and 3 touchdowns. The interception he threw today amounted to a 48 yard punt that was downed inside the 5 yard line.
Deangelo Williams Shows Grit:
23 carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns doesn’t really jump off the page at you, but the effort to get those numbers does. Deangelo Williams, who is known more for his speed, displayed some solid power today as well, as two of his attempts included him plowing into Vontaze Burfict, which sent the mentally unstable linebacker to the sideline with neck issues. All in all, Williams racked up 91 total yards today as he added another solid effort as he continues to fill in for Le’Veon Bell.
Defense Puts Points On The Board:
The Steelers put up 30+ points for the fifth straight game today, and 6 of those points belong to the defense, in the form of a Willie Gay pick six. His interception return for a touchdown was the sixth one for his career, tying him with Rod Woodson for the franchise lead. It was just one of three picks that the defense recorded on the day, to go along with their three sacks. It was the second straight solid effort by a unit that has played better than expected for most of this season. Take away AJ Green’s 132 yards, and the secondary shut pretty much every other pass catcher down. On the ground, the Bengals could only muster 64 yards on 16 carries.
With the 33-20 win, the Steelers move to 8-5, but still reside as the 8th seed in the AFC. If the Steelers can maintain this level of play and win out, they will find themselves in the postseason, as they still control their own destiny. However, it remains to be seen how the broken thumb of Andy Dalton affects the Bengals. If he is indeed out for the rest of the regular season, the Steelers may still have a chance of winning the AFC North if they ultimately win out.