The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals 24-17 Sunday night and below are my second half notes from the game. Here are my first half notes if you missed them.
The Steelers give up some yards on the opening kickoff of the second half, but at least the reliable Curtis Brown is there to put an end to things.
Speaking of Brown, the Bengals convert on third down on a quick slant to Mohamed Sanu with the second year corner in coverage in the slot as the Steelers continue to roll out their Dime defense. On the big third and short play that followed later, the Steelers are in cover-3 and Keenan Lewis plays the defense perfectly on the deep ball to A.J. Green. Ike Taylor had coverage over the top, but if Lewis is not in position that very well could have been a touchdown. It wasn\'t, and the Bengals settle for a field goal instead. This one play really made a difference in the game.
Chris Rainey has a nice punt return and this time there are no flags on the field.
On first down the Steelers run play-action out of 11 personnel and Antonio Brown easily gets separated from Pacman Jones for an explosive play. On the next play the Steelers run an end-around to Mike Wallace for good yardage as Brown, Heath Miller, Doug Legursky, Mike Adams, Emmanuel Sanders, and even Max Starks are down field delivering blocks. Willie Colon gets put on skates by Geno Atkins on the very next play for a sack. Adams also was beat easily on the play as well. A quick screen pass to Wallace to the right with Miller sealing the edge gets some of the yardage back. On third and six the Bengals send Jones on a corner blitz and Ben Roethlisberger chooses to go deep to Wallace, who is blanketed, instead of checking down to a wide open Rainey underneath, who had wheeled out of the backfield. Rainey would have easily had the first down, but instead the Steelers settle for a field goal.
Special teams fail again on the ensuing return and Brandon Tate has the Bengals out to their 40 yard-line.
Lewis is there again for run support on first down and he really has played a great game up until this point. On third down the Steelers rush five with Larry Foote coming off of the left side. Both he and James Harrison get good enough pressure to force Andy Dalton out to his left. Ziggy Hood chases and gets in the passing lane to deflect the pass. Great three and out by the defense.
Offsetting penalties on the punt result in a do-over.
The Steelers go three and out as a quick slant to Wallace falls a yard short. Not a great series for sure.
Dalton overthrows tight end Jermaine Gresham on second down with Lewis in trail, and after Harrison and Woodley pressure Dalton to throw the ball away on third down, the Bengals return the three and out favor. It should be noted that both Brett Keisel and Hood had good push up the middle on the drop back as well.
Brown delivers an excellent effort on the punt return, but of course it negated by yet another holding penalty. This time Taylor is the culprit.
On the third down of the next drive Roethlisberger finds Brown, who found a soft area in the zone against a cover two defense. The Bengals only rushed four on the play and the protection was great. Brown makes a nifty move after the catch to gain some extra yardage. Marvin Lewis challenges the short second down catch by Wallace, but the play stands as called and the Bengals lose a timeout. On the ensuing third down Roethlisberger hits Sanders for a big gain on a two-way option route against a cover-1 defense. This route is becoming a specialty one for Sanders and he runs it much quicker than Hines Ward ever did. On the second and seven that follows it is Raney for the score on a perfectly executed trap play that I broke down yesterday. 24-17 Steelers
Lewis has a good pass breakup on quick slant on the next Bengals drive and pressure up the middle by Keisel on third down forces Dalton into a bad throw thus ending the drive.
A wrap around draw to Jonathan Dwyer behind a solid pull by Colon keeps the Steelers offense from going three and out again. Ramon Foster and Adams also had nice blocks on the play. The Bengals continue to insist on playing two deep safeties. On the next second down pass play Dwyer picks up Chris Crocker on a safety blitz and knocks his shoe off. See it here. The block enables Roethlisberger to complete a short pass to Will Johnson. Unfortunately the Steelers are unable to convert on third down as Roethlisberger is unable to connect on a deep ball to Brown on the outside. Brown made a great catch against great coverage but was out of bounds.
Harrison fights through a double team on first down and gets enough pressure that Dalton has to throw the ball away. On the ensuing third down Dalton tries to hit Green but Taylor is there for the breakup and the Bengals go three and out again.
On second down of the next possession it is Miller who runs right past linebacker Rey Maualuga, who is staring into the backfield fooled by the play-action. The success of the Steelers running game has taken over this game in more ways than one at this point. On second down and ten Roethlisberger is sacked as both Colon and Foster are pushed backwards off of the snap. Roethlisberger is slow getting up after the play and all of a sudden a sniper hits Sanders in one of his hamstrings. Sanders falls to the ground and the Steelers are awarded an injury timeout. Wallace drops the third down slant on a ball that is slightly behind him. That said, he still should have made the catch. The trainers get Sanders back on the field one play later and Roethlisberger delivers a pooch punt after it initial looks like the Steelers are going to go for it. Who is the player down the field to down the ball? Sanders of course. Hurray for miracles.
Casey Hampton swims by the center on second down for a run stuff as it appears the Bengals are running a prevent offense on this drive. On third down Dalton throws high to the left side and Green almost makes the catch of the night with Taylor in coverage. The Bengals go three and out once again.
Roethlisberger throws low to a sliding Wallace on second down and the Bengals have no choice but to challenge the catch. The Steelers appeared to get a gift as the play stands as called. The Steelers run Dwyer down the throat of the Bengals defense to close things out.
Ballgame. Steelers win.