Steelers route Bengals…improve to 9-0!

November 16th, 2020
by admin

The Steelers had a great bounce back performance against a familiar foe the Cincinnati Bengals, with a strong victory to go 9-0 on the season. The Steelers harassed and dominated from the opening whistle and easily handled the Bengals’ super rookie Joe Burrow.

The story of the week was Covid and the restrictions it placed on the Steelers practice schedule. Ben Roethlisberger was forced to work remotely all week and didn’t practice with the team, despite that he played his best game of the year. He passed for 333 yards and four touchdown passes and was in complete control all game. His numbers could have been even better if one or two drops were handled. Even with the absence of a consistent running game Roethlisberger moved the Steelers down the field almost at will and engineered seven scoring drives for 36 points.

Roethlisberger hit seven different receivers and more importantly had zero turnovers. JuJu Smith-Schuster led the team in catches with nine and a big touchdown. Diontae Johnson put up his first 100-yard game of the season and he continues to show that he is a dangerous playmaker, he finished with six catches and a touchdown. Chase Claypool pitched in with four catches for 56 yards and two touchdowns. James Washington, is the unsung hero in the group, putting up two catches and making two big plays.

Despite playing one of the worst run defenses in the league, the Steelers struggled to run the ball and at times all but abandoned it. The “jet sweep” play was no longer effective and failed on three tries. James Conner could only muster 36 yards and he struggled to get outside on any of the running back sweep plays. He never could get in the rhythm and the offensive line couldn’t get the push needed when the Bengals stacked the box. The Steelers need to stay committed to the run especially in games like this but with Roethlisberger moving so well, the run was an afterthought.

It was close to a dominant performance for the defense and it never allowed a third down conversion. The numbers don’t tell the story, for most of the game Joe Burrow had plenty of time to pass but it appeared he didn’t recognize the coverages. The schemes confused him and at times he was just chucking and ducking. His only big play was a 54-yard completion to Tee Higgins on a blown coverage by Cam Sutton. The play setup the only Bengals touchdown on the day. The rest of the day the Bengals were held in check by the secondary. Joe Haden kept A.J. Green off the stat sheet, Steve Nelson played great again and had a fumble recovery. Terrell Edmunds led the team in tackles.

T.J. Watt had two big sacks. The first one knocked the Bengals out of field goal range at the end of the first half. The Bengals front doubled him most of the game. Bud Dupree was a step off but did get his seventh sack of the year. While the Bengals had mild success running the ball, they never really pushed the issue. Cam Hewyard, Tyson Alualu and Stephon Tuitt pushed the pocket and kept the Bengals off balance. There was another Mondeaux sighting, and he played well when called upon .

The Special teams had a nice bounce back week after the “dumpster fire” last week in Dallas. “Little Bos” was called on to complete three field goals in what had to be tough conditions with a swirling wind. Ray-Ray McCloud had a huge return that setup, the kill-shot touchdown on a 43-yard punt return. Olasunkanmi Adeniyi caused a fumbled on the first punt of the day. The Jordan Berry comeback took a nice turn putting together his best game in three seasons, highlighted by banging a 62- yard boomer that pinned the Bengals down. There was a minor hiccup on a fake punt after the game was well in hand.

Give the Steelers leadership and coaching a lot of the credit for the performance. This week was full of distractions with all the Covid Protocols, a lackluster performance last week and the mounting pressure of being undefeated. The team responded and put together its best performance of 2020 so far. It was a thorough demolition of a division rival.


My “GAME BEER” goes to: Ben Roethlisberger, who passed for over 300 yards and threw four touchdowns in a week where he never practiced live due to Covid restrictions. Also Considered: Diontae Johnson who had over 100 yards receiving and six catches. Joe Haden who played a masterful game shutting out A.J. Green.

Where I watched the game: We were at the house after an eventful Sunday. The “Steel the other team’s snacks”, was something called Skyline Dip that is supposedly popular in Cincinnati. While it was enjoyable, it was our worst snack of the season so far, especially coming off Texas Style Beef Brisket. The Steelers did score when the snacks came out. Beer this week was Smithwicks Irish Red from Ireland in bottles. I struggled with beverage management all game. KGB went back to “Mother Pumpkin Ale” with a cinnamon sugar rim and Dante had his White-Rock Root Beer!

My Stat of the week: The Steelers held the Bengals ZERO for 13 on 3rd down conversions. It was a very strong performance for the Steelers on defense despite not having the greatest push up front. The Pass Defense was tight with very few mistakes.

My Thoughts on next week: In the words of Admiral Ackbar, “It’s a Trap”! Riding high and now with a three-game advantage in the Division (including game in hand) this wreaks of a letdown. The Jags are starting their fourth string Quarterback and they are a team that the Steelers for whatever reason have historically struggled against. It scares me. Not to mention the Thanksgiving clash with the Ravens looms around the corner. This has the makings of a disaster. The Steelers really need to put their foot on the gas here and not let up.

This week’s Jersey: Franco Harris #32, Salute to Service, again to honor Veterans Day!


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