Despite a terrible first half in which the Steelers didn’t look like they could catch anything (on offense OR defense), the Steelers rallied back in the second half and beat the Cincinnati Bengals 24-17 (which was exactly the final score that I predicted for this game here).
The win takes the Steelers’ record to 3-3, which may not sound very impressive, but which actually gives them the 4th best record in the AFC. Only the New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens, and Houston Texans have a record that is above .500. More importantly, the Steelers are in 2nd place in the AFC North, and they only have one more loss than the Baltimore Ravens (who the Steelers still have to play twice).
In the first half of the game, things sometimes didn’t look like the Steelers were going to win. The defense missed the opportunity to get several turnovers. In fact, they dropped several easy interceptions. Likewise, the offense didn’t seem to want to win either. Mike Wallace, in particular, looked like he had completely forgotten how to catch the ball. In fact, Wallace failed to catch almost half of the passes that were thrown at him (he caught 8 of 15 passes thrown to him in the game). And Big Ben didn’t look so hot either. He threw an interception, and also lost the ball on a fumble.
But despite how bad the Steelers looked in the 1st half, they looked like a completely different team in the 2nd half. Big Ben came out in the 2nd half and started completing passes to everyone not named Mike Wallace. Heath Miller, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders each turned in a good performance.
But it’s probably fair to say that the best performance of the night was turned in by Jonathan Dwyer. Dwyer ran hard, and at times, he made Steelers fans think that Jerome Bettis had returned to the team.
Dwyer carried the ball 17 times for 122 yards. That’s an average of 7.2 yards per carry. Nothing demoralizes a defense worse than consistently making long runs against them. That being the case, I’m certain Dwyer left them completely demoralized.
Because the Steelers were so busy shooting themselves in the foot in the 1st half, it was easy to mistakenly believe that the Bengals were playing better than they actually were. But if you look at the actual stats from the game, the Steelers dominated the Bengals.
The Steelers’ offense gained 431 net yards, compared to only 185 net yards by the Bengals. Moreover, Bengals QB Andy Dalton was held to a mere 105 yards passing. That sounds more like a rushing total than a passing total.
The Steelers also dominated the time of possession battle. They once again held the ball for over 35 minutes, which is becoming a hallmark of the Steelers offense. They held the ball for a full 15 minutes more than the Bengals did during the game. When you do that, you have a very good chance of winning the game.
Now the Steelers have to get ready to play star rookie Robert Griffin III next week as the Washington Redskins come to Heinz Field.