Going into the season this was the kinda game that we thought the Steelers would be able to play this year. The start of the year the Steelers were about as bad as you could have imagined and while I still don't think they are very good they came out last night and showed that they weren't going to lay down and that they still had some punch left in them.
All the Steelers did was come out and score 21 first quarter points and go into the half with a 27-7 lead. The Steelers had six first half possessions. They punted on their very first possession and then scored the next five possessions. Outside of punting you couldn't really ask for much better of a half. Sure, the last two scores were field goals and it would have been nice for them to punch one more in the end zone but the way this season has gone who cares.
The Bengals were just awful in the first half. It was almost like they had no idea they were going to be playing a football game. All told in the first half the Bengals had 66 total yards and 69 yards came in the teams final two drives. The special teams were terrible for Cincinnati and the defense was letting the Steelers offense do pretty much whatever they want.
Mathematically the Steelers are still in the playoff hunt but it's a massive long shot. A lot needs to happen and a lot of it probably won't happen but at least for another week the Steelers can say they are in the playoff race.
Ben Roethlisberger was pretty outstanding. He went 20-25 for 191 yards, a touchdown, and an interception but those numbers probably don't do his game last night enough justice. He was only sacked one time which came late in the game but he found the open receiver and had some good accuracy as he has had all season. Just some really outstanding stuff from him last night.
While he rushing stats are going to look good Le'Veon Bell is showing why the Steelers made him a priority in the draft. He averaged under 3.0 yards per carry which is pretty bad but he caught five passes out of the backfield for 50 yards and every single time he was targeted he made the catch. His long rush was only eight yards but Bell does something with nothing and while he isn't going to win any races to the corner he does give you a really nice burst and some power to run on the inside.
Antonio Brown had a game. Not only was he the Steelers leading receiver with five catches for 66 yards and a touchdown he took a punt back 67 yards for a touchdown in the final minutes of the first quarter. He can really do it all and he has been so much better than I expected him to be this year. I knew he was dynamic but he's really polished up his game since last season and it's made him a true go-to guy and one of the best punt returners in the league. Every time he has the ball in his hands he has a chance to score a touchdown and that is fun to watch.
This was one of the better games the defense played. The first half was really a clinic and while they started to get taken advantage of a little later in the game when things got somewhat interesting they were making plays. They held the Bengals to 4-of-14 on third downs and made Andy Dalton looked like the average at best quarterback that he really is. The Bengals rushed for only 57 yards and the Bengals as a whole only had 279 total yards. SUCCESS.
While the playoffs might be a pipe dream it was still a really fun game to watch on prime time. Good to see the Steelers haven't packed it in. Fun times.