Bengals @ Steelers—A Boswellian Victory
As I was preparing to watch today’s game I typed two things in my game notes before kickoff. The first was, the narrative for this game all week has been about what a nasty physical matchup it was going to be, and wouldn’t it be ironic if it didn’t turn out that way? The second was to note that the Bengals had been playing Renegade at practice all last week.
And strangely, although it was certainly a physical game, it wasn’t really particularly nasty. For one thing, there wasn’t a single personal foul penalty, nor did it seem many flagrant ones had been missed. And off-hand I would say that inuring themselves to Renegade didn’t help the Bengals’ offense out in the second half, because the they didn’t really generate any. But more on that in a moment. Let’s get right to the Acceptable, the Objectionable, and the Appalling…
The defensive stand in the second half of the game has to be considered more than acceptable. On a day the Bengals’ defense managed to hold Pittsburgh to field goals after shortly into the second quarter, a day in which the Bengals were matching Pittsburgh score for score, it was important to shut the Bengals’ offense down. And shut it down they did. In the second half Robert Golden passed for more yards than Andy Dalton. In fact, Golden’s 44-yard pass on a punt fake was more yards than the Bengals’ offense had, period.
In addition to the obvious defensive stats of two interceptions and four sacks, Dalton was hurried 12 times and knocked down at least seven times. (My computer TV stick thingy was going nuts at the end of the game, and I couldn’t actually see what happened on the last four plays.)
And speaking of going nuts, let’s give credit where credit is due. Heinz Field was really rocking, and the crowd was totally in it. Good job, all, and a shout-out to old school-mate Ken, who was at the game with his two grown sons. I don’t know where they live, but Ken came all the way from Albuquerque, and so thanks to them and 68,000 or so of their closest friends for bringing home the victory!
Le’Veon Bell. Nothing more needs to be said.
Antonio Brown. His stat line was not as impressive as usual (although truth be told it looked pretty much like it always looks when they play the Bengals.) But he had some clutch catches when it mattered.
A shout-out to JuJu Smith-Schuster, who managed to both catch a touchdown pass and have a fun celebration without getting penalized for it. And speaking of flags, he didn’t have any other flags, either. In fact, the entire penalty line for the Steelers is 1-5. I guess this means that all of a sudden Mike Tomlin has his team under control. Amazing what a week will do… (Please read the previous two sentences in the Sarcasm Font…)
And as long as I’m on the subject, while the Bengals were more penalized than the Steelers, the total penalties for them were 5 for 54 yards. A great deal of that yardage was a juicy Pass Interference penalty on, I think, Dre Kirkpatrick, “defending” AB.
Given that the announcers talked a lot at the beginning of the game about the Chris Hubbard-Carlos Dunlap match-up, one which Hubbard lost several times, the Steelers made appropriate adjustments to help him out. Good thing, too. Ben was knocked down from time to time, but wasn’t sacked once.
Joe Haden’s first interception as a Steeler came at a great time. Old Man William Gay’s alert grab of the ball Sean Davis knocked away was pretty sweet as well. (The Bengal that came in, about five minutes later, and hit Gay should have been penalized, but oh well…)
Robert Golden’s Arm. Given that several other quarterbacks are lost for all or most of the season after today’s games, the Steelers might want to make sure he doesn’t get spirited out of Pittsburgh. His 44-yard pass, dead-on to Darrius Heyward-Bey, was the longest play of the day by either team. Something tells me that next week Heyward-Bey will be covered on punts…
And this would not be complete without a mention of the man who single-handedly scored over half the points on the day. Boswell’s five-for-five set a Heinz Field record.
And though I’m always in such a good mood after a win that I tend to sweep the problems under the rug, I will mention just a couple of Objectionable things:
Oh Vance! Just when we were starting to think we could trust you, you drop as sweet a pass as you’ll see in a month of Sundays, right there in the end zone. This would be in the Appalling category, but the other two great catches you had in the middle of the field have spared you this ignominy.
The other half of the kicking staff is concerning me a bit. Jordan Berry had a couple of punts that gave Cincinnati wayyy too good a field position. Fortunately we have the Men of Steel to mop up mistakes, but one of these days it is going to cost us.
Well, that’s going to do it for the moment. I’m sure we’ll have much more to say in the days to come.