On Second Thought: Homer’s Notes and Grades for Steelers/Bengals


Photo via Steelers.com

By Homer J.

(As usual, I’m heavily editing the game notes. Any comments of mine will be in italics—Rebecca)

Homer liked the first drive. He really liked it. I think all of Steeler Nation liked it. Here’s what he had to say about how it ended:

Ben with a quick slant to AB. Threads the needle for a TOUCHDOWN!!!  Textbook picture perfect drive. 7-0 PIT

The first Bengals series ended in a punt, but unfortunately so did Pittsburgh’s next series, and the Bengals drive that followed ended in a short touchdown pass. But the Steelers answered with one of their own:

Ben hits JUJU who busts a coverage and is wide open and runs it in for a TD. Best end zone celebration EVER, as Juju plays hide and seek with Bell, who is hiding behind the goal post!!!  14-7 [I have to admit to being faintly nervous that the refs would view this as using the goal post as a prop…]

After Cinci ties the score, this happens:

Ben hits Bell, who breaks a tackle and jukes three other tacklers on the most awesome run after catch. The only thing missing from that play was slo-mo and the voice of John Facenda. Gets all the way down to the CIN 14.

The series ended in a field goal, and after a three-and-out by the D, the next series, which ended the quarter, netted another field goal. (Homer points out that “Vance McDonald will break your heart.”) Here’s Homer’s half-time assessment:

Ben was not just Good Ben, but Spectacular Ben, with 12-16 for 193 yards and 2 TD’s in the first half. An extremely well played first half, and enjoyable to watch. Bengals game plan is to stop the run and force Ben to beat them. He seems to be obliging.

A few highlights from the second half:

Quick pass to [A.J.] Green, off his fingers. Joe Haden does his best Polamalu imitation and grabs the ball off of Green’s back for an INT. Spectacular play for his first interception as a Steeler.

And not long after that:

Dalton pass knocked up in the air by Sean Davis and picked by William Gay. BPWG!!!!! [For the uninitiated, that’s Big Play William Gay.] Ball at PIT 41.  Davis is having an absolutely spectacular afternoon.

Later on: 

Berry 51 yard punt, returned 19 yards by Erickson. Cincy gains possession in PIT territory.
We’ve seen this scenario before. (Hold the scary music, but keep it ready, just in case). Crowd going nuts. Must have played Renegade during the break.

Yep. Dupree and Alualu sack Dalton for 11 yard loss back to CIN 44. 2nd and 21. Incomplete. On 3rd and 21, Dupree runs down Dalton at CIN 30. 4th and 34!!!! Oh, Momma, I’m in fear for my life!

Homer wasn’t as big a fan of Robert Golden’s pass as I was:

Fake punt. Pass by Robert Golden to DHB for first down. Hey, Golden, you throw like a girl, or maybe a shotputter. First down with 6:15 to go. 44 yard gain. Jeez, that was a gutsy call, but we don’t live in our fears. Do we?

And finally:

Two minute warning and victory formation. Steelers take a knee on fourth down, giving CIN the ball with 40 seconds left. Cincy takes a knee, bows and kisses the ring. Who’s yer Daddy, Cincinnati? 3-2-1 Win.

REPORT CARD: (EVERYBODY GETS AN A) [Don’t tell James Harrison.]

This was as complete a game as the Steelers have played in perhaps a year. This was the first game this year where you didn’t have to pass the Tums, and the first game this year where you didn’t have the jitters at the end or some kind of empty feeling.

It all worked. Offense. Defense, especially in the second half. And special teams. Injury-free and virtually penalty free. Oh, my.

QUARTERBACK: A His best game statistically, and his accuracy and awareness were superb. The Ben of Old. He even drew Cincy offsides 37 times, or something like that.

RUNNING BACK: A Another day at the office for Le’Veon Bell. James Conner continues to look better and better, stronger and stronger every week. Nix was a monster, as usual, and did an excellent job neutralizing Burfict.

WIDE RECEIVER: A Not just AB, but JuJu. And can we give extra credit for that end zone hide and seek routine? Make Football Fun Again!

TIGHT ENDS: B McDonald dropped a TD pass, because that’s what he does. But he caught a couple of big ones, and Grimble grabbed one as well. They blocked well.

OFFENSIVE LINE:  A Ben was not sacked all day. The running game did well. Cincy sold out to stop the run, but to no avail. Hubbard played well filling in for Gilbert. DeCastro had his best game of the year, including one play where he pulled and managed a pancake.

DEFENSIVE LINE: A They controlled the line of scrimmage. Alualu had a sack. Heyward and Hargraves shared a sack. They had a few breakdowns in the first half, but dominated after the break.

LINEBACKERS: A+ Watt and Dupree were both all-world when it counted. All the linebackers were dominant and controlled the game, especially in the second half.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: A+ Davis was the best player on the field on a day the entire defense shined. He was beyond excellent. Haden had a great interception. Gay had another, thanks to Davis. In the second half, they were all outstanding.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A Robert Golden is the new Landry Jones. Boswell was 5-for-5. The only thing that was less than perfect was allowing a 19-yard punt return by Erickson.

COACHING: A Great game plan. The offense did not have a single penalty called on them in the entire game. Ponder that for a moment. Calling the fake punt was the final dagger in the heart of the Bungles. Since we have to find some fault, let’s complain about the third down play calls. Explain why we would EVER take Nix out of the game on third and one.

Most complete performance by the team in a very long time, and no apparent injuries.
It doesn’t get much better than this.

Two-game lead in the division, and Detroit is next.

The universe is unfolding exactly as it should.


  • We take Nix out on 3rd and 1 because we are going to trick them (!)…always successful. [sarcasm font]


  • They did play Renegade – at 11-something in the fourth quarter, which is early, by usual standards. The place exploded — it felt like a playoff game. They had a special montage for this one —- all defensive highlights against the Bengals over the years, some from times past. It was loud and electric — the Steelers seemed feed off the energy, like they got a turbo boost. The Bengals players were looking down, or anywhere except the jumbo-trons on each end. Guess those practice runs didn’t help.


    • Yep.When they came back after commercial, it sure looked like the place was going completely nuts. Ivan mentioned they had probably played Renegade. But it seems like the game announcers NEVER mention that, almost as though the producers and play-by-play guys have an agreement to keep it a secret or something. Has anyone else noticed that the TV guys never mention Renegade?

      (Actually, that’s fine with us. We don’t need any imitations in lesser markets)


  • Boz.

    It’s gotta hurt when an opponent’s kicker establishes dominance over your team.


  • As giddy as Id like to stay five field goals is a red zone red flag.. While Iwont say appaling it needs improvement. Against an above average QB with an above average OL our dominant defense will be show its true colors. Young inexperienced and prone to misdirection and over pursuit.


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