Pittsburgh Steelers Versus Cincinnati Bengals – First Half Recap

By Matthew Marczi

The Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Cincinnati to play the Bengals in a game in which both teams are seeking redemption for a tough opening week loss. The Steelers lost three players for the season due to injury, including center Maurkice Pouncey, who has been replaced with Fernando Velasco. Fullback Will Johnson returns to action after not playing any snaps last week.

The Steelers lost the coin toss, but the Bengals deferred, with Felix Jones back to return the opening kickoff. James Harrison gets a crack at Ben Roethlisberger right away.

Jones got some decent blocking on the opening kickoff, which helped the Steelers start at the 35-yard line. Jones was the first back in and got the carry on the opening play for no gain. The Steelers went no huddle and Jones gained just one yard on second down as well. On third down, Jones got just four yards to complete the opening drive disappointment.

Zoltan Mesko got off a good punt, which was returned to just outside the 20. Jarvis Jones did indeed start. Kion Wilson, replacing Larry Foote, made the first tackle after a five-yard gain. Andy Dalton dropped back to pass on second down and had plenty of time, but his eventual throw sailed over Tyler Eifert’s head. Cameron Heyward came in on third down, but it was Brett Keisel getting the pressure and forcing a poor throw to force a three-and-out.

The Steelers tried once again to get a spark on special teams as Antonio Brown broke loose on the punt return for 40 yards to get deep into Bengals territory. On first down, Roethlisberger took a shot to Emmanuel Sanders, but they could not connect. On second down, Roethlisberger was sacked by Carlos Dunlap, who beat Marcus Gilbert. Domata Peko also got the bull rush on David DeCastro to meet up at the quarterback. On third and 16, Felix Jones ran a delayed draw to gain 14 yards to put the Steelers in field goal range, which Shaun Suisham made, right down the middle, from 40+ to take a 3-0 lead.

Andy Dalton continued to struggle with his accuracy, which in part set up the third and two. Dalton continually went to A.J. Green, who converted the third down with Ike Taylor in off coverage. BenJarvus Green-Ellis gained ten yards on the following play. He was dropped for a loss on second and three, however, to set up another third down. Robert Golden was in the game in the dime, and he saw a fair number of snaps. On third and 10, more pressure once again forced a high pass. The Bengals’ second punt was much better, as it rolled out of bounds at the three.

On first down, Felix Jones gained three yards. Antonio Brown used his agility to take a short pass seven yards for the first down to get out of the shadow of his own end zone. On the next play, Roethlisberger faked a handoff to Jones, who was pummeled by two defenders, and scrambled for six yards. Jones got the first down on the next carry. Two plays later, Adam Jones was flagged for pass interference.

Jonathan Dwyer, on his first play back with the team, gained two yards on the ensuing play. On the next play, Roethlisberger found David Paulson down the field, who got a number of yards after the catch. He had the ball stripped from him at the end of the play, however, and the Steelers delayed running a play afterward, giving the Bengals time to see the review and challenge the play. It was a coaching error to try to change personnel rather than run a play, which resulted in the turnover.

The Steelers did manage to flip the field, however, moving the ball 86 yards in total down to the 13. Vince Williams made his debut, registering the tackle on first down after a five-yard gain. Giovani Bernard cut back a run on second down to get the first play. Busted coverage resulted in Tyler Eifert getting wide open down the middle of the field for a monster gain down to the 13. Two plays later, the run defense disappointed, allowing a seven-yard touchdown from Bernard with Al Woods at nose tackle.

The Steelers’ ensuing drive stalled immediately, due in large part to a sharp pass that Jerricho Cotchery was unable to hold on to on second and seven, resulting in the third of four drives in which the Steelers failed to register a first down. The punt was returned to the 42-yard line.

The Bengals were flagged for a false start to set up first and 15. A screen pass gained 14 yards, however, as Ryan Clark was blocked out of the play. Green-Ellis got plenty more than the one yard needed for the first as Vince Williams was eluded on the play. Marvin Jones slipped through an Ike Taylor tackle attempt to get to the 24. Steve McLendon supplied the pressure on the next play on an incomplete pass that bounced off of Green. Heyward deflected the second down pass to set up third and 10. Pressure on third down forced Dalton to heave up a pass that fell harmlessly incomplete, but a field goal gave the Bengals a 10-3 lead.

Isaac Redman was cleared to return to the game after being knocked around on the opening kickoff, which required him to pass concussion tests. He was in blocking on the next play, which was an incomplete pass down the field. Redman carried the ball for one yard on second down. On third down, a four-wide set pass fell incomplete for the three and out. Shamarko Thomas just missed the tackle on the punt, but he was blocked in the back on the play anyway.

Jarvis Jones made a nice play to drop the back for a loss of a yard on first down. Dalton targeted him in coverage on the next play, and he made the stop a few yards shy of the first down. With four wide on third down, Mohamed Sanu got the better of Thomas for the first down.

Polamalu broke up a pass in the backfield on the next play, and the second down pass gained hardly a foot after Dalton was under pressure. Sanu got some separation from Thomas on third down, but the downfield pass was just out of his reach with Ryan Clark looming as well.

Emmanuel Sanders caught Roethlisberger’s first completion in a while for a nine-yard gain, and Jones gained a first down on the next play. Antonio Brown converted another first down two plays later. Cotchery was dropped for a loss on a run, however, setting up third and 13. The pass fell harmlessly incomplete beyond Cotchery, and Jarvis Jones forced a fair catch on the ensuing punt.

After two short passes gained just two yards, Roethlisberger was able to find Sanders down the field into Bengals territory. On the very next play, the two hooked up again for a bunch of yards after the catch to set up first and goal at the one-yard line. On the first play, Roethlisberger threw a fade route to Derek Moye, the 6’5” fifth wide receiver, who hauled in the pas for the touchdown to tie the game at 10.

The Bengals, now in the two-minute offense, took their time early on, knowing that they still had three timeouts, and drained about a minute on the first three plays. From the 40, Cameron Heyward hit Dalton as he threw to force the incomplete pass. A seven-yard gain to Green set up third and three, but Dalton was able to convert to Tyler Eifert.

Two incomplete passes put the Bengals right back in third down, however, with 11 seconds remaining from the 48. Green-Ellis caught the pass, but shy of the first down. With five seconds to play, the Bengals went for a Hail Mary into the end zone. Sanu nearly hauled in the pass, by Ike Taylor was able to deflect the ball away to maintain the tie score.

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • dgh57

    Steelers 1 of 6 on third down in 1st half isn’t going to get it done! Neither is 4 punts by Mesko!

  • SteelCity

    Horrible terrible call on 77 for tripping…terrible!

  • SteelCity

    Horrible call on 77 for tripping…horrible break…

  • Jay Jaber

    Why every time we catch a break seething bad happens that ref is a fucking moron for calling that tripping

  • dgh57

    Was that the same ref that called Redman on a chop block back in the preseason?!!! Horrible call.

  • RedCarpetDefense

    Vince Williams looks timid…he needs to be more aggressive.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Wow, that penalty was HUGE, and then Ben makes things worse by taking that sack.

  • RW

    I have no idea what everyone was talking about with regard to Redman’s improved speed. He’s the slowest running back on the team, and this is one that still includes Jonathan Dwyer. Jerome Bettis could currently burst through a hole faster than Redman.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    OMG, Redman is horrible! No more fluffing his pillow, Marczi. He straight up took the wrong hole on that 3rd down run. The block was there.

  • RW

    Also, who in that stadium didn’t see that play coming? Agree with you, but just saying..

  • RW

    Also – why is Jarvis Jones ever off the field?

  • Jay Jaber

    Once Jarvis starts to get a feel of the game u take him out wtf

  • Eric

    Paulson did fumble but the whistle blew before the Bengals recovered. That play was blown dead. Possesion should not have been given to the Bengals

  • RW

    Rule change. Allows for a team to have recovered if there is clear evidence to suggest they would have done so had the whistle not blown. Bottom line is Paulson needs to hold on to that ball. My grandmother could have taken it out of his hands.

  • RW

    This offense is stupider than Bruce Arians’. I never though those words would exist and come out of my mouth.

  • Mike Sweeney

    0 first downs in the 3rd quarter. Stellar!!!!!

  • RW

    Could be worse. Could be like 1 the whole game. Oh wait…

  • Marcus

    Roethlisburger isn’t the same quarterback. His team isn’t doing him any favors, but i haven’t seen him miss this many throws before.

  • RW

    Where’s he supposed to throw? None of his guys can get open on these short routes. Or any routes.

  • RW

    And Woodley’s jump just cost us any shot at the game. Jesus we’re undisciplined. Tomlin better get his coaches and players in line.

  • Whcr Communicators

    Ike Taylor is playing his ass off

  • Bell Cow

    I guess Haley doesn’t know how to make half time adjustments. -2 in the 3rd quarter? Pathetic.

  • Jay Jaber

    Wow we look just as bad as the Jacksonville jaguars its soo sad

  • Whcr Communicators

    That b.s. tripping call and the fumble reveral on challenge were both huge and the reason we lost..why cant we get any fucking turnovers

  • RW

    Can’t make any adjustments in game. Look at what happened when Pouncey wen’t down on the SIXTH PLAY last week. The party line was “our whole game plan was ruined after that”. Great. Come up with a new GD game plan.

  • Mike Sweeney

    anybody had enough of Haley’s play calling? I know components are missing but this is an outrage.

  • RW

    We haven’t lost yet, but even if we do they’re not the reason. Our D can’t get to the QB and can’t force turnovers, our receivers aren’t getting separation from CBs and every DB other than Ike is playing horribly.

  • Jay Jaber

    All I gotta say is mike Evans or Sammy Watkins

  • Christopher Wilkes

    14 points coming off those 2 plays.

  • RW

    Just let Ben call the plays at the line.

  • psteelers

    When is some of the blame going to be directed at Ben? 2 weeks in a row and he’s out performed by an average at best qb. Missing throw after throw. Please stop mentioning this guy with the elites in the league. Brady is throwing to garbage, Brees was beat up badly yesterday but made the plays when IT counted. Our guy is wearing the punter out with these 3 and outs repeatedly. How can he not run a play after Paulson fumble. I saw garbage qb’s yesterday make that play time and time again.

  • RW

    We have a horrible O-line and less than garbage for receivers. Sanders is too small to be a credible deep and/or over the middle threat – same with Brown, and neither are fast enough to take the top completely off. No Miller is taking away anything over the middle. Oh and did I mention that our O-line sucks??

  • RW

    Too early man. I’d be happy, but too early in the season for that stuff. Wait for Bell and Heath to come back, then make that call.

  • sean mcmartin

    You have to be kidding me. Another season with nothing to cheer about..cut haley and hire jon gruden

  • RW

    Don’t know about that. Has to be egregious to be an in-season cut.

  • RW

    Cotchery’s got to catch that.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Pass was high and behind.

  • Jay Jaber

    All I gotta say is mike Evans or Sammy Watkins

  • psteelers

    Like I said, this guy is overrated. Blame Tomlin, blame Haley, Blame the O-line. Ben is showing his true color after being carried by defense for his career.

  • Henry

    How does a qb like Andy Dalton throw 50 passes and you get no picks?

    This is a 6-10 football team.

  • sean mcmartin

    exactly,,Opie has been smiling all night with enough time to carve up the zone..There is no D pressure.. not sure the Steelers can or will even try to clean up this mess. wow..

  • sean mcmartin

    Gruden said it during the broadcast,,Even a good QB is only as good as his surrounding cast..Ben has nothing top work with.

  • Bell Cow

    I hate to be one of fans who overreact; but Todd Haley has to go. Ben and Haley are like oil and water who just aren’t going mix.

  • psteelers

    Who is Brady throwing to? He’s been taking a beating this season. Our personnel is better theirs. They have an elite qb, ours is above average.

  • Marcus

    You’re never gonna win a football game when the opposing offense runs 30+ more plays on offense. They have to find a way to sustain a drive.

  • Marcus

    and once again, no sacks and no turnovers

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Get with the program, dude. This has nothing to do with our defense.

  • psteelers

    Defense just showing their frustration, they’ve been carrying thus guy all this time and he gets the big contract. That’s where our demise began. Harrison told us a long time ago, he’s only paid like Manning

  • psteelers

    Lol, they’ve only provide the qb with a 17 pts per game average for his entire career. I can only imagine what an elite qb would do with that type of defensive effort.

  • Marcus

    Then what does it have to do with genius? Put a gun in your mouth “dude”.

  • psteelers

    His name should be small Ben from here on out. Big games he’ll only get ya 15 points on average. Repeatedly throwing the passes too high, too low, behind the receiver.

  • Henry

    Is Ramon Foster our best o lineman? Or is it Velasco? Decastro sucked.

  • Mike Sweeney

    9.5 points per game, thus far. On Tomlins press conference, he’s going to say, he saw some good things and he like’s where the teams headed. Players are like oil changes, he’ll say again. Lost for words and feeling numb.

  • Jay Jaber

    I’m not even joking it goes 1.velasco 2.velasco 3. Velasco 4. Velasco 5. Foster

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Sacks and turnovers only go as far as your offense can profit from them. The defense played well enough against a good offense. There was pressure on the QB. We stopped them on a bunch of 3rd downs. The opportunities were there for the offense. This team can’t move the ball and score. That should be pretty obvious to you.

  • Marcus

    QB isn’t playing great right now, but I think he is scared for his life. There is enough blame on the offense to go around.

    I’m not going to blindly praise the defense though.. yea it should be enough to win, but they can’t seem to get a sack on the QB. They haven’t played a good QB yet either. This game could have been a lot worse, but Dalton did them a lot of favors. It’s gonna be a long year.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Wow, that was a pitiful display by this offense.

  • Marcus

    That makes no sense at all.. So by that rational the offense is responsible for sacks and turnovers? Dalton missed more throws then he made, and against a good QB this would have been a blood bath. The bottom line is they had no sacks. That’s it. All the other BS about the offense is not the point, and is the most retarded thing I’ve ever heard. I’ve heard of people being stupid, but holy shit man.

  • Whcr Communicators

    this look like the Joe Walton offesnse … we werent penalized much but those penalties were all big

  • psteelers

    Im not sure where you’ve been but this has been going on his whole career. Everybody wants to brag about how good he was playing last year, how many points were we averaging? What is the high for his career?

  • Mike Carroll

    Yep. Easily the two biggest plays from the Steelers perspective. Really sucks that Paulson seemed unsure as to whether or not he should jump on his own fumble. Stupid play on his part. Tripping call was baloney.

    And while the defense did play fairly well, I agree it totally sucks that they cannot force any turnovers once again.

  • Mike Carroll

    Yep. Redman sucks. Very slow with little vision. Sounds like a RB that nobody else in the league would ever pay $1.3M for.

  • Marcus

    Wow, he is a proven winner. Where have I been? He was an MVP candidate last year, where have you been? I agree with you, he isn’t playing well right now, but I’m not ready to write him off yet. Franchise QB’s are hard to find, and if you give him just a decent offensive line he can still get it done.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    lol, talk about retarded.

  • Marcus

    Nice come back genius. How dumb are you really?

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Probably a little smarter then the guy who thinks we lost cause we had no sacks. Troll away…

  • OIF3gunner

    I’m guessing it has to do with a drive killing turnover to begin with. Maybe some terrible OT play also! Defense looked decent considering we had three rookies on the field most of the game.

  • psteelers

    MVP candidate to who? Steelers fans? Just because Ed writes he’s an MVP candidate doesn’t make him one. If he was an MVP candidate so was the other 400 players in the league.Do they have a midseason MVP vote? When will Ben get the blame? How come we NEVER hear about the elite qb’s offensive coordinators being a problem? Don’t get me wrong Ben has made some great plays but when we rely on him to carry us it doesn’t work..I think he’s very fortunate to play for the Steelers. Our defense has carried him.

    We complain about not getting turnover but we have a good kickoff and excellent punt return squandered. He takes dumb sacks instead of hitting check down receivers. He leaves the pocket trying to play superman. We need someone in the defensive side if the ball to call his butt out. The Steelers offensive became the laughing stick of the league as soon as Ben took over. Is that a coincidence? At what

  • Steeler Wheeler

    I’ve been running a bit, I’m faster than I was last year, still a half step faster than my 12 year old….can I play RB for the Steelers?

    Great, faster than ‘slower than molasses’ is very, very slow.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    Um.. first few carries were Isaac Redman, not Felix Jones. Look for #33.

  • Marcus

    Go back to your job a waffle house. There is more then 1 reason why they lost the game. The offense is terrible, that’s not news. You are delusional if you think the defense is without it’s faults. No sacks, and no turnovers is a problem.. stop kidding yourself.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    If you’re more concerned about insults than debating then I’ll make this my last post to you, cause I’d rather not waste time on trolls. I never said the defense was without faults, but they did enough to win the game. We were down our defensive signal caller and 2 cornerbacks, so there was gonna be some breakdowns on defense. They gave up 2 touchdowns after losing momentum from a turnover and a blown call by the refs. You can’t fault them for that especially when the offense was forced to punt as many times as they did. On the other side, the offense was just pitiful, and there’s at least a handful of things you could point to that lost the game on that side of the ball before you even mention the lack of sacks and turnovers. There was pressure on Dalton throughout the game, and the lack of turnovers was more a positive by the Bengals then a negative by the Steelers. The defense is championship caliber every year. No one is blaming the defense, well besides you, anyways. Do you hear anyone in the media talk about the defense before they mention how bad the offense is? Enjoy your day, dude.

  • Aric Brown

    check your eyes… redman was being evaluated for a concussion after the opening kickoff

  • Aric Brown

    the defense couldnt defend anything… if andy dalton wasnt such a horrible QB they would have won by 50… just because he’s throwing the ball 5 yards over the other teams heads doesnt qualify as “good defense”

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    I’m pretty positive it was Redman. Running into linemen for no gain. Felix jones when were subbed out for Redman already had 6 carries for 25 yards, HOW is that possible if the first two runs were for no gain?