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Slow Start Means Little: Steelers D Does in Bungles in 27-10 Win

While the Steelers slept walked through the first quarter on Thursday night, the one thing this years version of this team has is a defense that can allow them to get off to a slow start. Even spotting the lowly Cincinnati Bengals a 7-0 lead 12 minutes into the game, the Steelers offense had more than enough time and the defense more than enough big plays in them for the Steelers to gut out a 27-10 win at Hienz Field to move to 8-3.

Ben Roethlisberger played his second solid straight game after the meltdown vs the Colts three weeks ago, and was 17-for-30 for 243 yards with a TD, and he also clinched it with an 8-yard TD run with 2:15 left that pushed the Steelers lead from 20-10 to 27-10. Overall the Steelers offense was good again, putting up 364 yards and 20 first downs to just 208 for the Bengals and 11 first downs.

As far as the Steelers defense goes, it remains the best in the business, even after getting off to a somewhat slow start. The NFL’s #1 ranked unit allowed Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bengals to go 62 yards in 11 plays for their only TD of the night on their second drive of the game. Fitzpatrick squeezed in a TD pass to Glenn Holt, playing for the deactivated Chad Ocho-Cinco at the 3:08 mark of the first quarter to make it 7-0.

The Steelers offense had just 30 yards on their first three drives, all punts, and then finally got things going in the second quarter, as Roethlisberger led the team on a nice drive that went 8 plays and 54 yards for the tying score. They had a 4th-and-1 at the Bengals four, and instead of trying to rush Mewlede Moore, as they have done the last two weeks, this time they gave it to Gary “Muscle” Russell for a one-yard gain. Two plays later Big Ben hit Heath Miller for the tying score.

The Steelers drove again on their next possession, going 11 plays and 72 yards as Jeff Reed hit a field goal to make it 10-7. That would be the score at the half, as the Steelers D went in the locker room ready to warm up against Fitzpatrick and the Bengals. It worked. Coming out and getting another field goal to make it 13-7, the Steelers D dominated the rest of the night, as Cincy had four straight possessions, all three-and-outs, and just 14 yards in those four possessions.

The Pittsburgh offense again rallied, as with Moore in the game, they went 64 yards in 7 plays, and Russell took it the final two yards after Roethlisberger hit Miller for a big 19-yard gain to the two to set up the score to make it 20-7 entering the fourth quarter. The Bengals finally got some yards, and ended the drive with a field goal to make it 20-10.

From there, the Steelers ate the clock, as they were able to run better in the second half, as they had the time of possession 35:20 to 24:40 for Cincy. They outran the Bengals 121 to 43, with Moore going for 56 yards on 15 carries, and Willie Parker had just 37 yards on 14 carries. Cedric Benson had 35 yards on 16 carries, a 2.2 yards per carry average, to lead Cincy. Fitzpatrick was 20-for-37 for 168 yards with a TD and a pick.

Now at 8-3, the Steelers will get a rest before they head to Foxboro to play the New England Pats on November 30th at 4:15pm. They have four huge games coming up, with the Pats, Cowboys, at Baltimore and at Tennessee. While they have a great shot at the #2 seed in the AFC with that defense, they had better win get that offense playing better or they may be playing in week one of the playoffs.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. Tim

    November 21, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    I hope the Steelers don’t play like they did against the Bengals the next four games. Here’s whos up: Patriots, Cowboys, Ravens, Titans … a combined record of 28-12!

    The next four games will easily make or break the Steelers season. Play well (3-1 or even 2-2) and a deep postseason run is a possibility. Play like they did against the Colts and Giants (Interceptions, anyone?) and making the playoffs will not be a sure thing.

    Personally, I really want to go with my gut and say this Steeler team (especially the defense) is capable of beating all four teams and putting together a nice run in the playoffs. However, common sense tells me that all is not right with the offense and the defense can only do so much…so the Steelers will most likely go 1-3 during this 4 game stretch.

    Why is it when the defense is playing balls out awesome the offense goes into a funk??? Even when Ben has a mistake free game the running game all but disappears!

    I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY would love to see Bruce Arians fired at the end of the season, along with the O-line coach!

  2. mark

    November 21, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Hey Tim. Even though I am not anArians fan, I think he has called 2 good games in a row. I have to say this, I agree the next 4 games will determine the season,but I dont think the Steelers are going 1-3. I think we are seeing the offense start to get its legs right now. True, the defense is capable of winning games and the offense has been frustrating, but the last 2 games have shown a more balanced attack. Hopefully Holmes is ok and the emergence of Limas Sweed is becoming apparent. That throw on 3rd down last night in the 4th qrt. that Ben threw to Sweed showed confidence in the kid. This offense, at least I think, is starting to show how dangerous it could be. I would also like to see more Gary Russell. He runs like Barry Foster!

  3. lucas

    November 24, 2008 at 12:59 am

    1 and 3 Tim? I suppose anything’s possible, hell, if we lose Ben we’ll go 0 and forever against winning teams, but seriously. Baltimore and New England are wins. We’ve yet to play the NFC east very tough so far (Washington has a very poor offense if portis aint rollin) So the Dallas game might be close if we can’t give Ben some time. And Tennessee is gonna be a beatiful slugfest but I think we’ll pressure the hell out of Collins so hey, there my gut says 4 and 0. Of course Mark’s right, if we see willie handing out seventeen 2nd and 9’s instead of Russell a little more and Nate dropping 3rd and 5’s instead of giving Sweed more snaps, 2 and 2 is more likely. Those two things will determine my attitude on arians.

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