Pittsburgh Steelers Versus Cincinnati Bengals – Second Half Recap

By Matthew Marczi

The Pittsburgh Steelers had an up and down first half, particularly on offense, in which they had two prolonged drives, one of which ended in a turnover, with the other in the end zone. A miscue on defense led to a big play on a drive that ultimately resulted in a Cincinnati Bengals touchdown. The two also registered a field goal apiece, with the score tied at 10 and the Bengals starting the second half with the ball.

Two small gains on first and second down put the Bengals on third down and short right away. The Steelers got pressure on Andy Dalton, who threw a poor pass for the three-and-out. The ensuing punt left the Steelers with good starting field position at the 37-yard line.

Isaac Redman could not gain much on first down after a failed block by David Paulson. In the no huddle, Ben Roethlisberger threw a screen to Antonio Brown, but it was snuffed out for no gain to set up third and long. On third down, Roethlisberger bought some time to find Brown for a big gain, but Marcus Gilbert was flagged for a questionable tripping call to set up third and 20 instead. On third down, Roethlisberger once again bought a lot of time, but he could find nothing and was ultimately dropped for a big loss to completely negate the positive starting field position.

The Steelers once again had good coverage on the punt, and a holding call on the Bengals helped alleviate the loss of field position as well. A missed tackle by Ryan Clark on Jermaine Gresham on second down quickly got the Bengals to midfield, however. LaMarr Woodley got a big hit on Dalton, but he still completed the pass for a first down, which put the Bengals in field goal range. A simple dump off pass to the back out of the backfield led to an untouched touchdown for Giovani Bernard to take a 17-10 lead.

Emmanuel Sanders was dropped for a loss on another quick screen on first down. In the no huddle, Roethlisberger found Brown for nine yards to set up third and two. Redman was stopped after one yard to force a punt. Shamarko Thomas forced the fair catch.

A.J. Green beat Ike Taylor for a first down, but the latter did a good job of preventing yards after the catch. A holding call on the Bengals backed them up ten yards, however. They gained back the yardage on first down, but on second, a screen gained just two to set up third and eight. On third down, Woodley nearly got the sack, but he did force Dalton to scramble shy of a first down to force a punt.

Three straight incompletions resulted in a quick three-and-out for the Steelers, putting Zoltan Mesko back out on the field at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Mohamed Sanu got the Bengals to midfield on the second play of the Bengals’ drive. Just outside the red zone, BenJarvus Green-Ellis just barely converted a third and two for a fresh set of downs. LaMarr Woodley was flagged for offsides to give the Bengals a first down on a third down that fell incomplete, setting up first and goal.

Ziggy Hood made the stop on first and goal, and a fade to Green fell incomplete. Brett Keisel came up with the deflection on third down, which may well have saved the Steelers four points. Still, a field goal gave the Bengals a two-possession lead with eight minutes to play, up 20-10.

Felix Jones returned the kickoff a couple yards shy of the 20 to set up a long field for Roethlisberger and the offense to try to begin a comeback. Roethlisberger’s first pass was nearly intercepted by Leon Hall, intended for Brown. On second down, a pump fake got Jerricho Cotchery open for a good gain down to the 39. Emmanuel Sanders hauled in a deep pass, but he was out of bounds against Dre Kirkpatrick. A neutral zone infraction, however, netted five yards anyway.

After the penalty, Cotchery caught a high pass down the middle for a first down. With Cincinnati bringing the pressure, Roethlisberger found Paulson for another first down to the 35. After an incompletion, Emmanuel Sanders gained eight yards on a short pass to set up third and short. Roethlisberger’s third down pass was too high for Cotchery. It bounced off his hands and was picked off by Reggie Nelson, which essentially sealed the game by spoiling a scoring opportunity, as they were in field goal range.

On third and six, Green-Ellis ran for the first down, with Domata Peko serving as the lead blocker. Woodley was flagged for unnecessary roughness, giving the Bengals another first down to help wrap up the game with three minutes remaining in a two-score game. The Steelers finally forced a punt inside of the two-minute warning.

The Steelers repeatedly failed to get out of bounds on every pass attempt even as they got down the field. Roethlisberger was able to hit Cotchery for 31 yards, but there were just 23 seconds left by that point. From the 34, Roethlisberger wanted to let go a Hail Mary, but he was pressured by Geno Atkins after he beat David DeCastro. Brown recorded another first down, but in the middle of the field, as the clock wound down to a highly disappointing 0-2 start.

About the Author

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

    Second half recap: bad.

  • Whcr Communicators

    Isaac Redman is not the guy for this offense,let Felix start in the mean time.. Haley is not coach for this offense..BEN HAD enough time to throw but he didnt do enough either

  • Jonas

    Second half: tackles for everyone, stops for none!

    Defense had good run stopping plays, then give it away in the next one..

  • Reader783

    That tripping penalty was the softest thing I have ever seen. What a joke. Ruined any momentum we had. Offense still stinks though.

  • gene mann

    you could have kept it very short by saying they were horrible

  • Pete

    Well we finally got to see Felix Jones rushing…for 37 yds on 10 attempts. Big improvement over Redman or Dwyer [sarcasm]. I don’t believe for a second that Bell would’ve done any better. The Bengals backs ran for 113 yds. The O line cannot run block effectively. That’s where it starts and this game ended as I expected. It will take this line probably most of the season to begin to jell. Hopefully, Ben is still alive when they do jell and I hope the team spirit doesn’t fall apart. Boys and girls, it’s going to be a long season.

  • gene mann

    the refs wer not the reason we lost, someone needs to held accountable.

  • Brendon Glad

    This team sucks! Prove me wrong. You did in 1987, 1989…and 1 or 2 others. But yeah, they suck. I ain’t seeing it.

    Since I always try to not only complain but put suggestions to the mix…gotta admit it’s very hard. The Pouncey and Foote injuries were 2 of my top-6 injuries I was praying against. And Pouncey was number 2. Foote was number 6.

    But I’ll give it a try.

    1) Teams have finally figured out to take the 6 yard hitch or out route all day on the Steelers. Gotta get the CB’s up closer to the WR at the line. I’m not necessarily saying “Cover-2” I’d mix and match it. So Troy P can still do his thing in 1 deep safety thing (Clark handling the whole back-end). BUT in my opinion, they MUST stop conceding the 6-7 yard hitch or out route. It used to work, with different personnel in the front 7. You always could trust that at some point, one of the front 7 would break free and ruin the drive with a sack. Not happening anymore. Gotta adjust.

    2) The reason why the zero attempt to re-sign Mike Wallace and the Plaxico Burress injury upset me so much is because of what we have seen in these first 2 games in FULL-BLOOM. Ben throwing beautiful deep balls…and the tiny WR’s not being able to go get the ball. YOU CAN BE TINY if you are MIKE WALLACE. Cuz he will have 2 steps on you. But if you are Brown, Sanders, or Cotchery, it’s an incomplete pass EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    So: #2 is…Moye must play A LOT. I don’t even know how much I love him. I just need some DIVERSITY in the WR core. Either speed or size, so since speed isn’t an option on the core, I gotta go with the size of Moye. Brown, Sanders, and Cotchery are just younger and older “brothers from the same mother” (in football terms).

    3) I admit…I WAS WRONG…on this point. I actually liked that the Steelers were attempting to take hits off of Ben with the quick passing game. And many of you in Steelers Nation were right LONG before me. But I gotta say, AS I WATCHED this game…Ben got sacked only twice. Against a good pass-rushing team. But DID IT FEEL RHYTHMIC AT ANY POINT? NO!!!!! Gotta let Ben be Ben. And take the blows to his body as they come.

    4) I will preface this by saying “if he HAS addressed the play then all bets are off.” But if DeCastro has not been a man, faced the media, and explained JUST EXACTLY what he was attempting on the Pouncey play, then I’m not only done with him…but I actually dislike him greatly. Sue me. I can’t help my feelings. And as a guy who played football very well on my own level…and now is pretty much obsessed with football as a Steelers fan, I need an explanation of that play: BY DECASTRO HIMSELF. Because I am not the only football oficianado who has never seen one like that from a high quality player. On his own guy. Only on an opponent. So I’m 20/80 that it was intentional. And I want that 20% part addressed. NO ONE pushing him. Pouncey’s arms extended. He misses THE ILLEGAL CHEAP SHOT BLOCK on the opponent (a 15 yard penalty…by 1.5 yards)…and blows out his own guy. I need an explanation. Or a link to it, if it’s happened.

    Yeah, I’m mad. I tried to give suggestions on the first 3…because I refuse to merely complain without putting my name to suggestions for improvement. #4 was pretty emotional…but I refuse to apologize for it. I’ve had too many excellent football fans tell me they are completely baffled by that play for me to just let it die. (and I didn’t START it…a couple of my OL friends who played at a high-level, and are Steelers fans got me going on my 20% intentional thing). I just want it appeased. Because THAT is depressing, if it WAS intentional.

  • HopalongCassidy

    This team will be in a dog fight with Cleveland for last place in the division.

  • Pete

    It wasn’t intentional. It was a really bad play but it wasn’t intentional. Just clumsy execution in the heat of the moment.

  • Whcr Communicators

    I must say SPECIAL TEAMS is now great, it used to be our weakest link

  • Bell Cow

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

  • Pete

    I feel your pain. They will try many things to right the ship but sadly the problem is simply personnel. We’re used to guys like Aaron Smith, Hines Ward, Harrison, Hampton, Farrior, Faneca, Bettis, etc. They’re all gone and the young replacements might not be as good as the originals.

  • Mike Carroll

    Redman should never see another start again. Jones was not horrible and that’s an improvement over Redman. Ben certainly did not have a good game – sailed too many passes high.

  • Tom

    Honest question…..
    What could Haley possibly do in the play calling to make the offense better?

    Sadly, I am resigned to accepting that this team simply lacks enough talent on the offensive side of the ball to succeed.

  • Tom

    Is Haley really the problem? Or is it simply a lack of talent?
    What could Haley possibly do different to make the offense better?

  • Brendon Glad

    Like I said, I’m 80/20 in the way you said. Just very disappointed that I haven’t seen that DeCastro addressed the play, in full, himself.
    BECAUSE, one way or the other, he was attempting an extremely dirty play. A NO-NO in the front-lines. And I know you’ve seen the play as many times as me.
    At a minimum, was it not extremely strange? It’s not like Pouncey and the DL were in a hugging match. PLENTY of space to do the dirty block. But then, WHY the dirty block? And on his own man (separated by a FULL 3/4 Yard by the defender at contact). No answer is good here, but I still need to here one. Hard to explain, but maybe you can feel me.

  • Pete

    Wow how exactly is this Haley’s fault? Take a look at the Bengals O line and ours. That’s not Haley’s fault. The Bengals O line run blocked for 113 yds tonight. The Steelers O line? 37 yds. I’m not saying Poucey would save the world but I’d like to think they’d gain a few more yds if Pouncey was the center. It’s just tough luck for the Steelers. A combination of injuries and/or poor skills.

  • Tom

    Yeah…that was a horrible call.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    This offense is so friggin bad it’s unbelievable. It will be nice to get Heath and Bell back, but I don’t think that’s gonna be enough. It’s just not working at all.

  • Bell Cow

    Have we ever had good line in Ben’s career?

  • Bell Cow

    It’s a combination of both. Haley needs to understand his personnel and adjust accordingly. -3 yards in the 3rd quarter after having time in the locker room to make adjustments is coaching.

  • Pete

    I agree with you that it SHOULD be considered a dirty block but the NFL rules say that block is legal. If DeCastro was the RT it would be illegal but because he is the RG and trying to cut a player engaged with the C then it’s legal. It sucks I know, I personally would like to see that kind of block on linemen made illegal.

  • Pete

    Only at the very beginning, his 1st and 2nd year. But it deteriorated as guys left or retired. Except for Pouncey, the replacements have never been as good.

  • Brendon Glad

    Great? They were mediocre in game one (2 more penalties…one cheap safety…decent coverage). Good in game 2. Great has not been in the mix. There are about 2-5 Special teams TD’s every week. That’s what great is. Getting a nice return which leads to a FG is not great.
    But I’m nit-picking. They’ve won 6 Lombardi’s with “nothing close to great” special-teams. So they definitely did enough by Steelers standards tonight.

  • HopalongCassidy

    Everyone knew last year that this offense sucked. Nothing has changed. Well, actually it got worse.

  • Bell Cow

    Understand your personnel. This isn’t high school football. Running 3 times in row isn’t gong to work. Reverse plays to Cotchery and constant screen passes to the WRs doesn’t fool any defensive coordinator. Half time adjustments? -3 yards in the 3rd quarter is unacceptable. They ran less plays in an entire game than Philadelphia runs in 1 half.

  • Brendon Glad

    Thank you Pete. I completely forgot that little nuance in the rule. And believe it or not, despite the eyeball test of how weird the play looked, your response DOES make me feel a LOT better. Because NOW I can actually try to get in DeCastro’s mind, and: “I need to do my assignment, I’m young, trying to impress…etc…so diving is on his mind all the way…for the RIGHT reasons….it makes the mistake so much more understandable.
    I sincerely thank you, Pete…because that really helped me.

  • Bell Cow

    Haley has now had 2 off seasons to work with Ben and this offense. Where s this zone blocking scheme they spent so much time working on? Wasn’t that supposed to fix the running game?

  • Bell Cow

    Exactly. They went to two Super Bowls after his first two years. Those lines included guys like an old Flozel Adams, Hartwig (center), Essex, Kemoeatu, Foster etc. You can’t tell me those players were any better than our current linemen. It’s coaching!

  • Jay Jaber

    I was soo angry when David Paulson fumbled that ball but I really like what I’ve seen out of him as a pass catcher not blocker it’s really interesting to see miller and Paulson in at the same time I think that’s what Ben needs

  • Pete

    The Steelers can’t run because the O line isn’t capable now. Maybe later this year they will come around. If they can’t run then their opponent will just come after Ben knowing he has to pass and heaven help him. They sacked him only twice tonight but he was hit a lot. I’m sure Haley and Tomlin and trying to figure it out but what can they do about injuries and lack of quality depth? The Steelers have not had 100 yd rusher since Redman in game 9 last year. That’s very unSteeler.

  • Pete

    Yeah, but you just lost your #1 pro bowl Center. You have 2 very green tackles, no veterans and what are you left with? Chaos on the O line from which everything else is supposed to flow. They’ve lost 11 of their last 13 games so the commentators have said. Maybe the zone is so new to them that they need time to develop with it. All I know is that they can run block or pass block effectively right now.

  • schlong

    Never thought I’d miss Arians but god damn Haley is frustrating me big time

  • Brendon Glad

    I agree, and disagree. When it fits my angst. lol. That’s why i’m just a fan, not a coach.
    In my amateur opinion, several coaches have proven themselves to me on the understaff…and the ones I can’t think of are probably good enough or I wouldn’t know their names…I only concentrate on the position, and the name, if the core is extremely improved, or extremely faltering.
    We fired Steve Furness…DL play was at the lowest of my full 42 years of life. Hired John Mitchell. He’s earned countless “trust points” from me over 20 years.
    Therefore, any lapse in DL play I put completely on the players. That’s an easy one.
    Keith Butler with the LB’s has less years but similar respect. Same formula. Lesser play from LB’s is on the players.

    On the FLIP SIDE, OL play has been one of my 3 biggest pet-peeves in Steelers ball for 6-7 years. 3 different OL coaches during that span…(all came as fired OL coaches from terrible offensive teams).
    And so I’m not sure WHAT to think about the fact that our OL sucks. I hate the OL now, and I hated it in 2008 when they won the SB (as Steelers, not as human beings, just to clarify). But I can’t quite tell if it’s the players they pick (very high draft picks, mind you…we get WAY better value on the picks at LB, WR, RB, DL)…or if it’s the coaches who are far below par.

    Same with Steelers Special-teams. I put a decent amount of research several months ago into a post where I reminded fans (in detail) of the ineptitude of that unit for all but 5-10 years of my entire 42 years of life. In short, 1972, 1976, 1993, 2001, 2007, 2009, and 2012 were all seasons damaged greatly or ruined by horrible special-teams work. (and I’m being uber-safe on the number of years I mentioned)
    YET, Steelers backups usually become good starters…they’ve established that whole “pipeline/development thing”. So HOW can guys like Larry Foote, Hines Ward, James Harrison, Brett Kiesel, MAKE THE DAMN TEAM because of Special-teams? Yet the units constantly SUCK (by my standard…special teams stats are worthless to me…I keep it simple…did you kill us or did you save us? ) Or were you a “blah”? That’s the appropriate way to look at it.

    So, in summary, I’ll give you the fact that the end of Steelers runs of guys like Hines Ward, Jerome Bettis, James Harrison, Casey Hampton, Aaron Smith, and maybe a couple of others is a shock to the “winning formula” (God knows, the Pats are NOT happy that Tom Brady is the only champion left on that team either)…. BUT in the areas I mentioned above, I think you have to look at it deeper…trust your eyes and your history…and judge each position-group off of that. Just like I said. (not to act “all haughty and stuff”…but I’m right on this one, I really think so).
    Coaches some, players some…y’all are Steelers Nation, just like me, (smartest NFL fans around baby)..y’all will know how to separate it.

  • Pete

    None of the guys you mentioned were great but they had a moment or two and played their roles. They also had excllent D. In 2005 they had Marvel Smith, Faneca, Hartings, Simmons and Starks and a FB Kreider. By 2008, the O line was not great and Ben was sacked a lot but the defense was #1 and carried the Steelers. By 2010 Pouncey was a rookie, with Flozell, Foster, Starks, and Kemoeatu. Flozell brought stability to the right side and emptied his tank on the SB ride. Mendenhall, rushing mostly to the right ran for over 1,000 yds. Again the Steelers had a #1 defense.

    Today we have a bunch of unproven greenhorns and will need a #1 defense again or it’s going to be a long year.

  • Pete

    I have to agree with you that the O line has been in dire need of repair after the secondary. They appear to have fixed the secondary with #1 pass defense 2 years in a row. Now it’s the O line that needs fixing. They’ve tried with high draft picks and we’ll have to wait and see if Gilbert, DeCastro and Adams turn out to be studs. But if they can build a good O line, this team will challenge again for a SB.

    You know, we really are spoiled. No other franchise has won as much as the Steelers. There are bound to be down years and I think we’re seeing one right here. I had high hopes for the O line but the loss of Pouncey is just too much for this team to recover from. Adams, DeCastro and Gilbert will learn a lot this year even if it is a losing season.

    You are right. That run of players, Harrison, Aaron Smith, Hampton, Farrior, Ward and Bettis, they were champions and now they’re gone. The era is gone. Ben and Keisel are the last ones left. It’s very hard to do it again with a new group especially if the new group are not as skilled.

  • Pete

    No Pouncey, Miller, or quality O line = a long, long year. On a positive note, I loved the TD by Moye, who I was rooting for in pre-season. I really like this kid and I’m glad to see his 1st NFL touchdown.

  • VaDave

    One other point to consider. There is not a lot of on the field practice time, about 9 hours worth or less this past week. I would imagine that most of that time was spent on getting Velasco up to speed.

  • Bell Cow

    Haha you act like Pouncey is a godsend. Stop making excuses for the time it takes to implement a new offense. These are professionals and many teams implement new schemes in one off season with a lot of success. Also, your comments about the old offensive line being good is a joke.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Wait, wait wait. I thought the O-line can’t pass block effectively? Oh, I see, they can’t run block effectively and they can’t pass block at all, my mistake. The new center looked pretty good.

  • Bell Cow

    These are professionals! It doesn’t take years to implement a new scheme.

    Take a look at what Trestman was able to do in 1 off-season with Chicago. He took over a team with a below average offensive line, a receiving core with only 1 good WR in Brandon Marshall, and an inconsistent QB in Jay Cutler who has been sacked just as much as him. Yet, they’re averaging around 370 yards/game and approximately 28 pts/game. Whereas our offense is competing with the Jacksonville Jaguars for last place.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Pete, that’s like three “I love Pouncey” comments in a row. Fact is he seriously declined, didn’t play in SB, didn’t play in playoff loss to Denver, and won’t finish this season. He was terrible this August, I have to wonder if he is worried about investigations into his buddy running around in Florida. Vacaro was good tonight, Pouncey would not have played any better. Pouncey needs to get his knee and his head healthy, might be LG next season.

  • charles

    Matthew maybe you might take the time to write an article about #31: the ref who called the BS trip on Gilbert because he is the same one who called the BS hold on Hartwig in the Arizona SB that GAVE the Cardinals 2 points and the ball and literally put them back in the game. This ref seems to always be the side judge in Steeler games and I would bet that there must be thirty or forty of these questionable calls by this ONE ref. Other thoughts: Ben had a terrible night constantly overthrowing patterns over ten yards deep and the interception was a pass that was high and behind Cotch that is a recipe for career ending injury being that it was across the middle. The Oline looked much better, whether it was their second game together or just the simple fact that Pouncey was not in. The replacement center played good. The offense is obviously not playing playoff capacity. It is still just game 2 but.. The result of our offense not putting any pressure on the opposition is allowing them to stick to their game plan, not take any chances. You can see this by how relaxed Cincy and Tennesees QBs were. Dline is getting some real pressure. Woodley seems to be playing much more agressively, but not enough to excuse the nail in the coffin penalty in his defense of Troy.
    Game turning plays 1) mistake by rookie LB (or was it Clarks mistake?), Sieffert has big play. 2) Paulson’s fumble (seems like the whistle blew before Cincy recovered the ball)) and 3) refs cheap shot call on Gilbert.