Three’s a Charm: Steelers @ Bengals

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It was a 2-chinstrap game…via Steelers.com

Wow! Three write-ups on one game! Well, it was that sort of game.

This isn’t going to be a literal blow by blow description, because ain’t none of us got time for that. There were plenty of blows, though, and most of them, or at least the questionable ones, were coming from the guys in the striped helmets.

And although this wasn’t the prettiest game ever, it was a very satisfying one, as it is a major come-from-behind victory. It isn’t the first, but it was by far the biggest deficit they have overcome. Here’s how the wins have come:

  • Week 1: The Washington team was leading 6-0 at the end of the first quarter, and barely scored again as the Steelers went on to put up 38 points. I suppose that is a come-from-behind victory, but it certainly didn’t feel like it.
  • Week 5: The Steelers trailed the Jets briefly in the second quarter, but it was all Steelers in the 2nd half.
  • Weeks 2, 4, 11, 12, 13, 14: The Steelers never trailed.

This is the first game this season, in other words, in which the Steelers overcame serious adversity to come back and win.

And there was plenty of adversity. Plenty of it was of their own making. Taking over 100 yards in penalties is scarcely ideal. Some of it was injury-related. How many more guys can go out on the defensive line before they run out altogether? Some of it was officiating issues.

I’m sure Bengals fans feel their team got a raw deal, and we know the players and Marvin Lewis do, but really—no face-mask penalty on Dre Kirkpatrick when he tried to take Sammie Coates’ head off? And that was just the worst one. There were illegal offensive linemen downfield, a facemask on AB that wasn’t called, and so on. But thankfully the Steelers’ penalties weren’t what you like to see, but they weren’t a result of the Steelers being baited by the Bengals and responding in kind. Oh, the DDC personal foul was definitely a response to a Bengal, but he was protecting Le’Veon Bell from Burfict’s extra attentions after the whistle, and that’s just what you have to do.

It took a while for the offense to get clicking. Okay, quite a while. They didn’t have many chances in the first quarter. as the Bengals managed to hold onto the ball over half of it. (The Steelers returned the favor in the fourth quarter by possessing the ball for almost 13 minutes.) And it never was a truly great offensive performance, although Ben had an almost perfect QB rating in the fourth quarter. They did just enough, and were aided by boneheaded Bengals penalties at crucial times, to put up enough points to win. And that’s just fine.

The defense also took a while to get going. Tuitt leaving with a knee injury early in the game didn’t help in the least. But, as they have done so much in recent weeks, the defense pulled themselves together and did enough.

Perhaps the greatest blow, though, was struck not by anyone on the field but by the Curse of the Terrible Towel. Jeremy Hill did his ultimately laughable and lame attempt to desecrate a Terrible Towel after his TD run. He tried to rip it twice, but these things are made strong to last long, so in the end he just threw it on the ground. Here are the numbers before that idiotic act:

  • Series 1: 18 yards rushing, 37 yards passing, FG
  • Series 2: 20 yards rushing, 39 yard PI call on Artie Burns, TD
  • Series 3: 8 yards rushing, 74 yards passing, TD
  • Total: 46 yards rushing, 111 yards pass, (39 yard PI), two TDs, one FG

Here are the numbers after:

  • Series 4: 22 yards rushing, FG (this was after a 72-yard kickoff return)
  • Series 5: 10 yards rushing, 8 yards passing, punt
  • Series 6: 3 yards rushing, 8 yards passing, INT
  • Series 7: -1 yard rushing, punt
  • Series 8: -4 yards rushing, 14 yards passing, punt
  • Total: 30 yards rushing, 30 yards passing

End of game

As you can see, the majority of the rushing yards and the only other score came on their fourth series, before half time. I think the Terrible Towel needed a few minutes to fully develop its wrath. Will guys never learn? Vontaze Burfict and Pacman Jones and their antics are bad enough, but desecrate the Towel? They may never win again until Jeremy Hill is cut, or appropriately contrite.

And just to show how short the memories of both Cincinnati players and fans are, here is an item which appeared on Cincy Jungle partway through the game:

After scoring a 4-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter of the Bengals vs Steelers Week 15 matchup, Jeremy Hill acquired a Terrible Towel and attempted to rip it in half.

Hill was clearly pumped up and excited after scoring his ninth rushing touchdown of the year. The score gave the Bengals a 17-3 lead and was Hill’s first touchdown against the Steelers since his playoff fumble back in January.

No Bengals player has disrespected the Terrible Towel so perfectly since T.J. Houshmandzadeh used one to wipe his shoes back in 2005.

Hill did not get penalized for his celebration, though technically, the towel was a prop and props are not allowed to be used for touchdown celebrations.

Way to go, Jeremy!

As for the Steelers, there was some good news and some bad news. Le’Veon Bell managed to get out of a game in which Vontaze Burfict played without an injury. Antonio Brown appears to be fine. Sammie Coates seems to be getting his confidence back. Ben is fine, and although his numbers were scarcely stellar, he didn’t look like he did in Buffalo.

But the bad news is pretty distressing. Ladarius Green is in the concussion protocol. And that is not only bad news from the standpoint of his growing importance to the Steelers’ passing game but for his own sake. Although it was denied by everyone at the Steelers’ facility, it was widely reported that Green was on the PUP list not because of his ankle but because of recurring headaches from a couple of concussions last season.

Green himself denied the reports, and claimed he didn’t actually have concussions. It’s all very foggy and confusing. But if there was any truth to the multiple concussions story, he may be out for quite a while, or forever.

Perhaps less seriously for his long-term health but bad nonetheless is Stephon Tuitt’s knee injury. We can only hope it is a minor sprain he can play through, if there is such a thing, because Tuitt is pretty important to the defensive line, especially with Cam Heyward out. And Ricardo Mathews had some sort of ankle injury, although it isn’t clear how much of the game he played. The D-line depth has dwindled to almost nothing at this point.

Finally, I want to note that there is some support for the theory about Ben’s home/road splits put forward by parsonpriem in a comment to my latest update on the Roethlisberger Road Woes. As he said:

My “armchair psychologist” response is that those who think Ben’s poor performance on the road is because he’s started partying when on the road have it exactly backwards. Ben’s road/home splits were virtually identical until he got married in July of 2011 and went on to have his best year ever while at home (with his wife, “partying”) and worst year ever on the road (away from his wife, not partying). He briefly evened out again in 2012-2013, but then the splits show up again 3 years running. I think there’s good reason to suppose that the reason Roethlisberger has not played as well on the road for 4 out of the 6 years he’s been married is because he’s a married guy now and going on the road affects him more than it did before. As a young single guy, home was wherever he laid his hat. Now, he’s out of routine and missing his wife when he’s on the road and it affects his mental preparation and focus for the game.

Homer J. also had a lovely addendum to this comment, which I will let you search out for yourself. But I noticed that in his post-game press conference Ben was asked about the Ravens game, and said that he wasn’t going to think about it. He said he is going to enjoy this win, then have Christmas with his family, and then start thinking about the game really intensely. I first thought that would be around noon on Christmas Day, but I’m guessing they had an early celebration. But whatever, this presumably means he will be happy and contented and go out and throw for 460 yards and seven touchdowns. Or so we can hope…

 

 

5 comments

  • Hopefully it is only 5 touchdowns and they pull him after we are winning 35-0.

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  • The last time Ben played the Raisins in Pittsburgh he threw for only 340 yards and 6 TD’s, but if Green is out I’ll settle for that. Another interesting note is that I was just reading at Baltimore Beatdown that they have their own road woes actually, which I’ve supplemented with my own research. They’re 2-4 on the road this year (6-2 at home), their two wins being a huge come from behind win at (0-14) CLEVELAND and a two point victory against the 2-12 Jaguars. Their road losses are for the most part understandable (New England, Dallas, and NYG), but they also managed to lose by 8 to the 4-10 Jets, and it’s not just this year.

    In 2015, They were 2-6 on the road, winning only against Scobee-Steelers and the Browns. They didn’t have much mojo at home either last year, though, going 3-5.

    In 2014 they were 4-4 on the road (including a 2 point victory against the Browns, which ought to be considered a loss) and 6-2 at home.

    In 2013, they were 2-6 on the road and 6-2 at home. Their road losses included 4 teams that finished the year 8-8 or worse, including losing to Cleveland by 6 (apparently the Browns are a tough game for the Raisins, the only reason I can think of for this is poetic justice),

    In 2012, they were 4-4 on the road, including a loss to the 4-12 Eagles, and 6-2 at home

    In 2011, they were 4-4 on the road, with the best of the teams they lost to being the 9-7 Titans (the worst being the 5-11 Jags). At home they were a perfect 8-0.

    On the road over the past 5 years the Ravens are currently 18-28 compared to 35-13 at home. For comparison, the Steelers are 33-13 at home and 23-23 on the road in that same span. Whatever Roethlisberger’s road woes may derive from, at least we don’t have a team-wide problem like the Ravens seem to, and which will hopefully be very much in play this Sunday.

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    • Love your reasoning (and your research : ) Unfortunately the Steelers seem to have been the exception to the rule. But to be fair that was also during the time when a major rebuild was going on. We can hope that, despite the injuries, enough of the rebuild is completed that the Steelers can shake this monkey off their back.

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