All week long the talk was about emotions running over, and if one team was going to be able to handle their emotions at a key point of the game.
Just like in the playoff game a season ago when the Steelers won one of the craziest games in recent history, they duplicated it Sunday as they calmly drove down the field with a huge fourth quarter drive to salt away a big early season 24-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field.
The game was, as expected, hard hitting, but when the Steelers offense needed to show resolve the most, they stepped up with a 12-play drive that covered 68 yards that lasted just short of seven minutes.
It wasn’t over though, as the Bengals drove down the field and scored their only TD on an Andy Dalton to Giovani Bernard 25-yard pass to cut the lead to 24-16.
The Steelers were not able to run the clock out, and the Bengals again started to move downfield in the final minutes, when a key call from the officials sealed the win.
Bengals rookie wide out Tyler Boyd caught a pass, but was hit by Steelers linebacker James Harrison. The ball came out, and Robert Golden picked it up for the recovery.
The replay looked to show Boyd’s knee hitting the ground before the ball popped out, but the officials declined to overturn the call, and the ball stayed with the Steelers for the clincher.
With a rain that lasted nearly the entire game, the conditions were not all that suited to have a big game for either offense, but in the end, it was the Steelers run game that led the way and wore down the Bengals defense on the key fourth quarter drive.
Williams ended the day with a hard earned 94 yards on career-high 32 carries, and he caught
Roethlisberger threw for 259 yards and three touchdowns, and also threw a pair of picks, but was able to overcome some tough weather to get the team the big win.
Tight ends Jesse James and Xavier Grimble caught the first two scores for the Steelers before Williams’ four-yard TD catch in the fourth to put the Steelers in a position to get the win.
The defensive affair had the looks of last season’s game at Heinz in which the Steelers had the game in hand all day, yet fell to Cincy 16-10, this time though, the team wouldn’t allow that to happen.
Dalton passed for 366 yards and a touchdown, but never got into a rhythm with his offense, needing 31 completions and settling for three field goals for the the Cincy offense till late in the fourth quarter.
Overall a great win and while it was two very different games to start 2016, the biggest numbers and the ones that matter are 2-0 – as in two wins, no losses.
The Steelers are on the road next Sunday as they take on the Philadelphia Eagles at 4:25pm.