48 Plays That Shaped The Steelers 2013 Season: Week 2 Versus Bengals

By Alex Kozora

Before turning out attention to the start of training camp, we’ll revisit 2013 one more time. This is a brand new series that will be recapping each game by highlighting three plays that shaped the final score – and the 2013 season – of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tackling Week Two today, a 20-10 defeat at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals.

Play #1 – 1st Quarter: David Paulson’s Fumble

Oh David Paulson. How Steelers’ fans, this one play included, love to loathe you. We do because of moments like this against the Bengals.

2nd and 8 late in the first quarter. The Steelers’ first offensive splash play. It’s a concept that works like it’s drawn up. Heavy, run look, max protect keeping eight in to block, with just a two man route downfield. Pacman Jones, playing man coverage (It’s man-free, Cover 1), freezes as his eyes are locked in the backfield. The Steelers’ even throw in the wrinkle of pulling David DeCastro to really sell the run action.

Paulson streaks towards the left sideline on a deep crosser. He reels it in at the Bengals’ 30 and bumbles to inside the 20 before getting tracked down. As Paulson is high-lowed by Jones and the safety, the corner punches the ball out of his hands and makes the recovery. A Bengals challenge overturns the initial ruling of down by contact.

Five plays later, Giovani Bernard cashes in on a seven yard run, putting the Bengals in the lead, 7-3.

The game didn’t get any easier for Paulson, who is later lit up by Reggie Nelson while trying to block on a run to the right. One of the ugliest individual plays of any Steeler in 2013.

Heath Miller returns the following week and mercifully so, Paulson gives us the starting gig.

It was an early turnover and 7-3 is clearly not an insurmountable lead. But it gives the Bengals momentum and confidence in prime time football.

Play #2 – Third Quarter: Giovani Bernard’s 27 yard TD catch

It’s the second touchdown for the rookie running back from Chapel Hill. But it isn’t just the fact he scored, it’s how he scored. A harmless check-down from quarterback Andy Dalton, the ball traveling no more than two yards past the line of scrimmage.

Bernard has some space underneath but at first glance, with numerous defenders in front of the back, the Steelers’ should be able to stop him after a medium size gain.


But as fate would have it, Kion Wilson – filling in for the injured Larry Foote – slips, allowing Bernard to scoot to the edge and walk into the end zone. Bengals take a 17-10 advantage, putting themselves in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the game.

Play #3: 4th Quarter: BenJarvis Green-Ellis Eight Yard Run

I know, I know, eight yards? So what? It’s all about circumstance.

This eight yard run came with the Bengals holding onto a 20-10 lead with four minutes to go in the game. 3rd and 8 on their own 18. The Steelers still have all three of their timeouts plus the two minute warning. Chances are low for a comeback but are effectively eliminated if the Bengals’ convert.

Cincinnati doesn’t hide what they want to do. Heavy set with just one wide receiver and full-time defensive tackle, part-time fullback Domata Peko in the backfield.


Handoff goes to the Law Firm, who keep in mind winds up averaging a disgustingly low 3.4 yards per carry, turning into a plodder who absorbs carries rather than any substantial threat.

Somehow, Green-Ellis keeps his legs churning without a defender ever really challenging him. He picks up the first down. After the play, there’s a slight skirmish between Ike Taylor and a Bengal. Frustration definitely boiling over with the realization the Steelers are about to lose to a divisional opponent on a national stage.

Pittsburgh is forced to use all three timeouts and they don’t get the ball back until after the two minute warning, the offense trotting back out with 1:43 remaining. Game over and an 0-2 start to 2013.

In hindsight, it becomes apparent then the Steelers’ run defense will not enjoy the success it had throughout most of the 21st century.

Brett Keisel sums up the reaction of most Steelers’ fans in the GIF below, slightly putting his arms up as if to say, “What just happened?”

That’s a great way to sum up the entire year, isn’t it?

About the Author

Alex Kozora

Full-time blogger from mom’s basement. Marrying tape and statistics. Chidi Iwuoma is my favorite Steeler of all-time.

  • Steelers12328882

    Great speed by Paulson, but what a doofus getting tackled like that and then fumbling. I actually want him cut more than I do Chris Carter.

  • Steelers12328882

    Hood, McClendon and Keisel just get manhandled on that run play. I can see why you chose it as a defining play. Just disgusting!

  • Jonathan

    The bogus tripping penalty on Gilbert should be on here. If I recall correctly we would have had a first down in the redzone when we were down 7-3. Instead it was a drive killer

  • cencalsteeler

    Boy oh boy….. pretty depressing. I seriously might have to skip the rest of this series. Reading these articles is like volunteering to have a root canal. Alex must have a stomach of steel.

  • Steve

    The last play is typical to the 1st half of last year, nobody wants to tackle.

  • Alex Kozora

    They will get better (slightly)

  • i have a headache

  • greeny

    The Paulson play was so annoying to me. Remember the officials called him down by contact on the field. Ben rushed everyone to the line to run a clock play because he knew this was going to be over turned. When he ran to the line, Haley was calling for a formation change with new player personnel and ultimately delayed the clock play enough for the Bengals to finally decide to challenge the play which obviously they won. This was the play that determined this game and ultimately a shot at the playoffs.

  • Lizard72

    IIRC, you are spot on!

  • dgh57

    Nightmare game Part 2: After that Paulson fumble they take it 84 yards and eat up 14 minutes off the clock in that quarter for a TD. After that bogus Gilbert penalty Ben was sacked,(that killed our drive and momentum) then we punted, and they drove for another TD!

  • Virdin Barzey

    I love this stuff. Clearly we can see the areas we needed to address and for the most part we did.

  • walter mason

    Kion Wilson slipping got in the way of Ryan Clark.

  • Alex Kozora

    Way out of the picture, blocked by AJ Green down the left sideline.

  • steeltown

    Yes nice speed for a big guy in the above play, but considering he’s subpar in the blocking dept. he’s really nothing more than a big slow WR

  • Lizard72

    Funny thing is how he was blocked out. He looked like he should have been the one on Offense. How do you let your man turn your back to the play coming at you?

  • Paul Barracliffe

    this made me angry