The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 24-17 Sunday night and below are my first half notes from the game with the second half notes to follow soon.
A great run back by Chris Rainey to start things off. The opening screen pass to Antonio Brown includes great blocks by Mike Adams and Emmanuel Sanders to free him. Great protection on the first third down conversion of the night and Heath Miller picks ups the free running defensive back. Horrible drop by Mike Wallace on the next third down and long as Ben Roethlisberger slides left and puts the ball right on his hands. Field goal. 3-0 Steelers
The Bengals offensive line washes the left side of Steelers defensive line out on the first run of the night and James Harrison misses an arm tackle on BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Larry Foote can\'t come down with the tipped ball by A.J. Green and the Steelers defense misses out on the first big gift. Steelers show first dime defense of season and Curtis Brown is beat on an out route by Andrew Hawkins for the first down. Steelers played man press with cover-2 over the top on the play. Green-Ellis goes right for another nice gain as Ziggy Hood is double teamed and Will Allen misses the tackle in the hole. The Bengals offensive line finishes the solid drive out as they run well to their right and score with a solid run off right guard. LaMarr Woodley and Ryan Clark both do a poor job of tackling on the scoring run. 7-3 Bengals
A nice return by Rainey is wiped out by a holding call on Stevenson Sylvester as the Steelers special teams unit is off to a poor start. Roethlisberger hits Wallace right in the chest on first down and he has his second drop of the night already. Next, Roethlisberger extends the play and hits Jerricho Cotchery for a big first down. Geno Atkins had schooled Ramon Foster to the inside for the pressure, but at least Foster continued to work and ended up delivering a block behind Roethlisberger after he avoided the rush. Jonathan Dwyer picks up a short first down to the overloaded right side with nice blocks by Miler, David Paulson and Will Johnson. Miller is flagged for a hold on the next play at it was one of the few mistakes he had on the night. The Bengals are keeping their safeties deep with fear of getting over the top. Brown finds a soft spot in the zone on second and long and then cuts back outside for the first down. Rainey comes up the field and delivers a nice block to help extend the run. Brilliant call on the double pass as Wallace clears out the left side for Baron Batch, who unfortunately drops the sure touchdown after he apparently lost the ball in the lights. Great throw by Brown on the play. Wallace catches a third down pass to move the chains on a sit down route and everything still looks positive on this drive. Roethlisberger forces the next ball to Miller, who ran a simple seam route with Rey Maualuga in tow underneath. Play action would have been great here and it would have gave more space for Roethlisberger to drill it under the safety. Chris Crocker made a great catch on the interception in the endzone and the Steelers come away empty handed.
The Bengals go three and out after the turnover as the third down pass from Andy Dalton goes through the hands of Jermaine Gresham, who was being covered by Harrison on the play. The Steelers continue to keep their safeties back as well.
A nice punt return is wiped out again, but this time it is DeMarcus Van Dyke who is the guilty party as he was flagged for holding.
Robert Geathers gets his hands inside Adams on first down and the play ends with a sack-fumble of Roethlisberger. The Steelers had been giving Adams a little help with a tight end earlier in the game, but not on this play.
One play later Dalton hits Green for a touchdown on a slant off of play-action. Clark is frozen and he can\'t give Ike Taylor help underneath. Taylor still manages to get good inside position, but his reach at the pass with his outside hand misses. It would, however, be the only catch of the game for Green, and the last time the Bengals would find the endzone.
Batch is flagged for holding on the kickoff return and already that is three on the night by the Steelers special teams unit. Dwyer gets the offense out of the hole on a run to the right side that included great blocking by both Johnson and Cotchery on the play. Dwyer continues to add yardage with a big run up the middle though a big hole provided by both Doug Legursky and Willie Colon. The Bengals even had a safety up in the box on the play as he was shadowing Miller. The end around run by Brown was a great call to help slow down the ends and the linebackers. After a short run by Batch, the seventh straight run on the drive, Colon ends up on top of Vontaze Burfict and grinds him into the ground. No passes yet on this drive. Wallace gets behind Leon Hall in the endzone, but Hall recovers to tip the pass just in front of Wallace, and the ball goes through the hands of the Steelers wide receiver as a result. Roethlisberger appeared to have Sanders open underneath in the flat for a sure first down, but liked the look at Wallace better. If Roethlisberger puts that ball a few inches higher, I think Wallace has the touchdown. Instead the Steelers settle for a field goal. 14-6 Bengals lead
Hood gets a tip of a Dalton pass after they move the chains once. The Steelers were coming with a blitz on the play. Gresham picks up another first down on a tight end screen as Lawrence Timmons can\'t make the tackle at the line of scrimmage. The next play is huge as Dalton tries to pull back his pass but the ball slips out and hits his lineman in the helmet. The deflection lands right in the hands of Woodley, who had entered the original passing lane, and thus the Steelers have a well needed turnover late in the first half. The Steelers were once again in dime on the play and the man coverage looked real solid all the way across underneath.
Roethlisberger checks out of the original play on first down as he sees that he has Brown singled up on the outside. The Bengals had a heavy presser blitz look on the play, but only rushed four as four others dropped into a zone coverage. A few plays later Roethlisberger hits Miller on a short post pattern in the seam for the touchdown underneath Terence Newman. This was a huge score as it looked like the Steelers would be down 11 points at best at halftime. On the two point conversion the Steelers were denied a timeout after the Bengals had taken one. Roethlisberger has no choice but to run the play and luckily hits a split out Miller with a fade pass in the left corner of the endzone for the conversion. Miller had a great release move on the route and beat Hall easily on the play. It was a great pass by Roethlisberger as well. The Steelers go into the half tied at 14.
I will have the second half notes up later on today.