Sometimes stats lie and such was the case in the Sunday 23-20 loss to the Bengals in Cincinnati. The Steelers defense allowed just 283 yards of total offense, but 156 of them came in the fourth quarter. The Steelers entered the fourth quarter with a 20-9 lead, but allowed 2 long drives by the Bengals while failing to score themselves. The Steelers seemed to be trying not to lose this game instead of trying to put away the Bengals. For the first time in his Steelers coaching career, head coach Mike Tomlin made several crucial coaching mistakes in one game. The first being at 1:15 left in the first half when Tomlin decided to go for a 4th and 4 on the Bengals 35 yard line. The 4th down pass from Ben Roethlisberger was incomplete to Santonio Holmes, which stopped the clock and turned the ball over to the Bengals. The Bengals then used the clock and 2 timeouts to drive the field for a crucial field goal and momentum before halftime.
The Steelers offense once again was able to drive the field, but couldn\’t finish drives. Roethlisberger was 22 for 31 on the afternoon for 276 yards. He had one touchdown and one interception that was returned for a touchdown. The interception was a miscommunication with Holmes and Bengals cornerback Johnathan Joseph stepped in front of the pass and returned it 30 yards that gave Cincinnati second half life. The offense also wasted the best rushing performance of the year by running back Willie Parker. Parker rushed for 93 yards on 25 carries and added another 36 yards receiving. Parker however only had 21 yards rushing in the second half. With his 93 yards, Parker passed Clem Daniels (5,138) and moved into third-place all-time among undrafted NFL rushers.
In the passing game, rookie Mike Wallace had his coming out game in a losing effort. Wallace hauled in 7 catches for 102 yards and led all receivers. At the other end od the spectrum was second year wide receiver Limas Sweed. Sweed had only 1 catch for 5 yards and dropped a sure 34 yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger with 12:02 left in the 3rd quarter. The failed 3rd down catch resulted in a missed 52 yard field goal by Jeff Reed.
In the end it was the defense that could not stop the Bengals when it counted, especially on 4th down. The Bengals were 3 for 3 on 4th down attempts in the game. The defense also failed to get a turnover and only recorded two sacks on the day. Dating back to the 2008 Super Bowl, the Steelers have allowed 41 points and 500 total yards offense in the 4th quarter alone. The loss moves the Steelers to 1-2 on the season and 2 games behind the leading Baltimore Ravens. The loss also drops them to 0-1 in the division. The Steelers will try to regroup and host the San Diego Chargers next Sunday, in what now appears to be a must win game at home.