Bengals 37 Steelers 30
When the Bengals trailed the Steelers 20-17 after a disheartening first half, it was not hyperbole to say they had 30 minutes of football ahead and were playing for their season. Season saved. Joe Burrow threw four TD's, three to Samaje Perine, and the Bengals improved to 6-4 on the season and 1-3 in the AFC North by outscoring the Steelers 20-10 in the 2nd half. What a second half by Lou Anarumo's defense. After the Steelers piled up 212 and matched their season high of points scored in regulation, the Bengals held them to two second half first downs, until the final drive of the game. The Steelers tacked on a TD with less than a minute remaining to make things interesting at 37-30. But the Bengals recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
The Bengals have won 4 of 5 following a 2-3 start, topping 30 points in all four wins....including 872 yards, 79 points over the last two games.
409 yards total offense....without Mixon for a half and without Chase........with 4 TD's from Samaje Perine (3) and Trenton Irwin (1).
Drive of the season: Leading 27-23 with 9:30 remaining and backed up to their own 7-yard line, Joe Burrow shook off a day of frustration and marched the Bengals 8 plays/93 yards and capped the drive with Samaje Perine's third TD catch of the game to make it 37-23 with 4:30 left.
Marching: The Bengals recorded 10 play/92 yard and 8 play/93 yard TD drives on the road vs the Steelers.....and faced one 3rd down (3rd & 4 completion of 24 yards to Higgins. Burrow was a combined 11 for 11, 159 yards, completing passes to 5 different teammates.
Burrow on game-sealing drive 8 plays/93 yards: 4 of 4 passing, 80 yards 27 Boyd, 32 Irwin, 15 Boyd, 6 Perine. Rushes Perine -2, 5, 2 Williams 8.
Burrow: 24 of 39, 355 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, 2 sacks, QB rating 104.1. Five different players had at least 42 yards receiving. He went 7 for 7 for 92 yards on a first half TD drive that concluded with a Samaje Perine TD catch. He had five passes deflected at the line, including two interceptions. After the Bengals took the lead in the 3rd quarter (24-20), Burrow's pass was intercepted by TJ Watt. But the Bengals D held the Steelers to a FG to cut the Bengals lead to 24-23. He had back-to-back 4th quarter completions of 27 to Tyler Boyd and 32 to Trenton Irwin. Wonder how many Burrow passes the Steelers have deflected in his career? 6 of Burrow's 8 picks this season have come courtesy of the Steelers. Lap Stat: Burrow has 7 TD, 8 INT vs AFC North this season.
Samaje Show: Perine had three TD catches, including two in the first half and then the game-sealing score late. 11 rushes/30 yards, 4 catches on 4 targets, 53 yards. He took a screen 29-yards for his first TD with blocking help from Stanley Morgan, Trenton Irwin and Cordell Volson. He took his 2nd TD catch in from 11 yards and his third from six yards out.
No, Joe: Mixon left the game with a concussion early in the 2nd half and did not return. 3 rushes/20 yards. 3 catches/42 yards, including a nice 17-yard catch/run.
RB early: 9 of first 13 plays involved RB: 6 rushes and 3 passing targets. That changed when Mixon went out.
TD-RB: Bengals running backs have 8 touchdowns over the last two games...Mixon 5 vs Carolina, Perine 3 vs Pittsburgh.
The Tee Game: Tee Higgins didn't have a target until the 2nd quarter, then had four catches (24-6-13-12) on a 10 play/92 yard TD drive. He added a 34-yard catch. He wound up with 9 catches/148 yards on 13 targets.
The Irwin Game: Trenton Irwin hauled in his first career TD, 1-yarder to put the Bengals ahead 24-20 in the 3rd quarter. He added a 32-yard catch in the 4th quarter. Total: 3 catches on 4 targets, 42 yards.
Found him: Tyler Boyd went to the 4th quarter without a catch, but came up with a beauty of a 32-yarder when the Bengals were backed up to their own 7-yard line. He wound up with 2 catches 42 yards.
Trend breaker: Per CBS...Bengals entered 0-8 when Burrown throws 2 or more interceptions and 17-9-1 when he throws less than 2 picks.
1st half: 212 yards and 20 points to.....that offense, including a 17 point 2nd quarter? Steelers entered 31st with 15.6 points per game. The most points the Steelers had scored in regulation this season was 20.
Regroup: They forced four consecutive 3-and-out series to start the 3rd quarter. They held the Steelers without a first down in the 3rd quarter. And only 67 yards on their first seven drives of the second half.
Big 3rd quarter stop No. 1: They held the Steelers to a FG after Watt intercepted Burrow at the Bengals 21-yard line.
Big 4th quarter stop No. 2: Eli Apple gave up a 34-yard completions to Pickens, but Germaine Pratt recorded a big tackle for loss on 2nd down and then Sam Hubbard sacked Pickett to snuff out the drive early in the 4th quarter.
1st half tackling issues: Too many weak efforts. TE Pat Freiermuth broke multiple tackles on 27 yard catch/run that set up a FG to end the first half.
1st half pass rush issues: The Bengals appeared to throw the kitchen sick at QB Kenny Pickett but struggled to get to him.
1st half 3rd and issues: The defense had trouble getting the Steelers O off the field....allowing 5 of 7 conversions in first half....with a couple of penalties hurting. But they held them to 3 of 10 in second half.
Big plays: Harris' 19-yard TD run was the Steelers first TD longer than 8 yards this season. He leaped over Jessie Bates a the goaline. Then, George Pickens hauled in a 24-yard TD pass late in the first half.
Drop and cover: DE Trey Hendrickson dropped in coverage and broke up a 3rd down pass to Najee Harris. Later, DJ Reader dropped in coverage on the Hubbard sack.
Stat stuffer: Hendrickson was a beast in the 2nd half, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss, 4 QB hits, 1 PD.
A 12-pack: Rookie CB Cam Taylor-Britt registered a game-high 12 tackles, playing all 73 snaps.
DJ Reader provided 44 snaps in his return. He did not record a tackle or show up on the stat sheet.
Changing of the guard: Kevin Huber was inactive and Dru Chrisman got the call for his first career start. 3 punts: average 50.0. Net 44.7.
53 yd punt to 5 yd line, followed by D 3 & out.....Bengals FG
57 yd punt to 9 yard line, followed by D 3 & out...Bengals TD
40-yard punt backed up to backline of end zone.....resulted in a fair catch.
Heck of a debut
Money Mac, back: Evan McPherson snapped a two miss streak by nailing all three FG attempts (45-54-44), with Dru Chrisman holding for the first time. McPherson is 17 of 19 on FGs of at least 50 yards in his career.
Returns: Trayveon Williams returned kicks in place of the injured Chris Evans. He broke off a 29-yard return on his first effort. Averaged 24.8 on 5 returns.
Trent Taylor returned a punt 11 yards. He also waived for a fair catch on a ball that bounced, drawing a 5-yard penalty. I've never seen that.
Mike Hilton drew a questionable PI on 3rd and 5 that extended a drive that ended in a Steelers 2nd quarter TD.
Officials missed a late hit on a 2nd quarter slide by Burrow.