Steelers edge Bengals in ugly clash
Chris Boswell booted a 38-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 23-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on Monday.
The three-point margin of victory was the only lead the Steelers held the entire game. The Steelers also needed a last-second field goal last week to get past the Green Bay Packers.
Things did not look well for the Steelers (10-2) early when leading tackler Ryan Shazier was lost with a back injury on Cincinnati's opening series.
The Bengals (6-6) jumped out to a 17-0 lead for their largest lead against the Steelers since 1999 and held a 17-3 half-time advantage.
But Pittsburgh stormed back as Ben Roethlisberger shook off an early interception to throw for 290 yards and two touchdowns. The game-tying score was a six-yard pass to Antonio Brown, who took a vicious hit from George Iloka in the end zone but held onto the ball.
Brown caught eight passes for 101 yards, but it was the patient and powerful running of Le'Veon Bell that helped the Steelers rally for the win. Bell finished with 76 rushing yards on 18 carries and caught five passes for 106 yards and a pivotal touchdown in the third quarter.
STEELERS CONTINUE TO PLAY DOWN TO OPPONENTS
Just as the Steelers did last week at home against the Packers, who are still without injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Pittsburgh fell behind early to a lesser opponent. The Steelers lost to the lowly Chicago Bears earlier this season, but were the first team to hand the Chiefs a loss to begin Kansas City's downward spin.
With an early interception to set up a field goal, Roethlisberger has thrown an interception in six of Pittsburgh's seven road games this season. That does not bode well for the Steelers if they have to travel to New England in the postseason. The Steelers do get the Patriots at Heinz Field on December 17, but first have to get past the Ravens next week.
OVERZEALOUS OFFICIATING RUINING THE GAME
Because the NFL has tried to officiate safety into the game, we see players afraid to play defense. There were two examples in Monday's game. Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree wrapped up Andy Dalton, but let him go when he thought Dalton released the ball. The Bengals quarterback had not and spun away, though did throw an incomplete pass.
The other instance allowed the Steelers to score as a trio of Bengals defenders let up near the sideline and Bell ran right past cornerback William Jackson for a 35-yard touchdown.
There were 20 penalties for 239 yards and, while some of those penalties were justified, several were questionable calls. The Bengals remained an undisciplined group, flagged 13 times for 173 yards.
PLENTY OF FINES, SUSPENSIONS COMING
While Shazier was injured on a hit he delivered with his head lowered, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was carted off after he was hit with a devastating crackback hit from Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. The rookie was flagged for the illegal hit and for taunting Burfict, who has a reputation as a dirty player. Smith-Schuster is facing a fine and possible suspension.
Ilako's hit on Brown was also flagged and he will likely be fined. The Bengals and Steelers have a nasty rivalry, but at some point the players have to police themselves and realise their own livelihoods are at stake.