Steelers outlast the AFC Champion Bengals!

September 12th, 2022
by admin

Yesterday’s game was reminiscent to a great page turning novel, with well flushed out characters, tremendous storyline, each team’s Achilles heel being exposed, the loss of iconic people along the journey, and an epic unexpected finish. The Steelers went into the defending AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals home, pummeled them, and then out lasted them to hold onto victory on Kickoff weekend for the 2022-2023 NFL Season.

The victory comes at a heavy cost as the Steelers lost both Najee Harris and T.J. Watt during the game. Both players absence was felt during key moments of the waning seconds, but depth carried them through.

The mainstream press has been trying to create the narrative that the Steelers are no longer the bullies in the division. That didn’t ring true yesterday as the Steelers defense dominated the Bengals up front and hammered them all over the field. Joe Mixon coming off torching the Steelers last year, found very little room to run averaging 3-yards a carry and he was forced from the game. Joe Burrow passed for 338 yards but needed 53 attempts and an extra quarter, while he did look spectacular at times, he was clearly uncomfortable all day, turning the ball over a whopping five times, with four interceptions, and two fumbles. The Bengals recovered one but were taken out of game winning field goal range.

It always starts up front for the Steelers and their defensive line set the tone with a strong and at times dominating performance. They had consistent and strong push up front. Cam Heyward had four tackles and recovered one of the Burrow fumbles. He was in Burrow’s face all day. Larry Ogunjobi was a major factor against his former team. It was great to see Tyson Alualu back as he provided much need push and clogged the running lanes. The Linebackers had a monster day, T.J. Watt was his usual game changing self. Alex Highsmith had his best performance as a Steeler with nine tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble. Myles Jack did a great job as a run stuffer in the middle.

The secondary performed well led by Cam Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon. Both managed interceptions as did Minkah Fitzpatrick who grabbed a pick six that got the Steelers on the board early. While his stats were not huge, Terrell Edmunds had a workman like game with six tackles and played almost every snap. The secondary chipped in with 14 tackles total and never allowed the Bengals to get off.

The Special Teams also was a big contributor to the victory. Chris Boswell hit the game winning field goal after nearly pulling it out with a 55-yard game winner earlier in the game. Bos was 3-4 on Field Goal tries and blasted a 53 to win the game. Pressley Harvin III had a good day punting and helped the Steelers with field position. The coverage teams were solid and new return man Gunner Olszewski chipped in with a 20-yard return, setting a short field for a scoring drive. Minkah Fitzpatrick made a game saving play when he blocked the extra point try. The Bengals backup long snapper Mitchell Wilcox was terrorized by the Steelers special teams.

The offense had an uneven performance at best. The problems from last season continued to plague the Black and Gold.

On the positive side, Mitch Trubisky had a good performance and did what he was called upon to do, he managed the game, and his mobility helped the Steelers stay active. He hit two clutch passes to Pat Freiermuth on the game winning drive and never turned the ball over. His longest pass was a catch and run to the big man Zach Gentry. Diontae Johnson led the team in catches but was relatively quiet most of the day. Rookie starter George Pickens didn’t have much of an impact.

The running game continues to be non-existent. There were no running lanes and the best the team could manage was a 15-yard end around by Chase Claypool. The line had no push and Najee Harris was injured during the game. Jaylen Warren looks like he will be fun to watch this season and he hit some great blocks, but his stat line was miniscule. The offensive line protected Trubisky with the only sack coming on a busted play, but they didn’t make any headway moving the ball on the ground.

The defensive coaching staff deserves credit for having the answers for Joe Burrow. He looked ordinary and confused for most of the game. Teryl Austin and Brian Flores executed a great game plan and Cincinnati took nearly three quarters to figure out anything of circumstance. The Steelers offense is still a work in progress, the management of the clock particularly at the end of the day was awful and they need to figure out a way to run the football without all the trickery. One thing though, the Steelers staff clearly out coached the Bengals staff, who made several questionable calls.

A victory is a victory and the Steelers get to be 1-0 without much of a performance from the offense and beat the AFC Champions.


My “GAME BEER” goes to: Minkah Fitzpatrick, whose interception return for a touchdown set a defensive tone all day, he also had the game saving extra point block. Also Considered: Alex Highsmith, the “other’ Steelers Outside Linebacker was a force and hammered the Bengals all day!

Beer of the Game: IC Light for me, had to go classic, KGB did Bud Light lime, and Dante did A&W Root Beer.

“Steel the Snacks”: Later in the season we will do Coney’s and Skyline Chili for Cincinnati, we went with Primanti Brothers Sandwiches made by KGB. It was Corned Beef and Provolone.

My Stat of the week:  Seven sacks and four interceptions, Teryl Austin put together a vintage virtuoso Steelers game plan. The Steelers dominated up front and the Bengals, who ran all over Pittsburgh last time were completely stifled.

My Thoughts on next week: I always worry about the Patriots and next week will be no different, a wounded and down Patriots team is a scary team and the Steelers most likely will be without T.J. Watt and possibly Najee Harris. This is the most beatable Patriots team in the last ten years, the Steelers need to make a statement.

This week’s Jersey: Cameron Heyward, 97, Away Jersey, starting the year off with a new tradition and couldn’t think of a better person to start with.

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