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Game Eight: Not a thing of beauty, but it’s a win – 27-21 over Bengals

Remember last September when the Steelers basically dominated the Bengals in an early season game in Cincy and then found themselves scrambling at the end? Yeah, that day didn’t end so well, as Carson Palmer hit WR Andre Caldwell with a four-yard TD pass with :14 seconds left for a dagger that sent the Steelers to 1-2 after the 23-20 loss.

Monday night it seemed to be an exact repeat, minus one very important fact. This time the defense stepped up and in the end, the Steelers hung on, winning 27-21 to move to 6-2 on the season, good for a share of the lead in the AFC North.

Sure you can get mad at the way the Steelers came inches away from blowing a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter, but it sure does feel better than a loss, which almost would have been impossible to imagine based on how the game played out for the first three and a half quarters.

“This is how the Steelers play ball,” defensive back Ike Taylor said. “We might get a blowout here and there. But we’re always in tough close ballgames. As a defense we just want to close them out. That’s what we did tonight.”

The defense did a good job holding the Bengals in check for most of the night, that is until the team built a 20-point lead at 27-7. It was from there the Bengals found their groove, scoring on a Palmer to Terrell Owens 27-yard score about a minute and a half after the Steelers went up 27-7.

Then after a bad Ben Roethlisberger pick, the Bengals again were able to drive down the field, and Cedric Benson went for a 1-yard score with 9:05 left to make it a six-point game.

The Steelers looked like they would put the game away, as Rashard Mendenhall rushed the team in position to kick what should have been a game-clinching field goal by Jeff Reed. But, as has happened all too many times this season, Reed pushed a 46-yard field goal wide with 3:59 left.

The Bengals put together a 12-play drive, getting when it was said and done to the Steelers 12, with a fourth-down and five play awaiting. Palmer tried to squeeze a ball into WR Jordan Shipley, and James Harrison and Ryan Clark did enough to knock it away, saving the win and allowing Steeler Nation to take a deep breath.

The Steelers dominated from the opening kickoff, as the Bengals fumbled and from there they put a quick drive together for a score as Mendenhall went in for a score to make it 7-0. After the Bengals next drive stalled, William Gay blocked Kevin Huber’s punt at the Cincinnati 30-yard line, the Steelers first blocked punt in two years.

They got a field goal from there to make it 10-0 with 7:46 left in the first quarter. They went up 20-7 at half after they got a TD from Hines Ward, and a 53-yard field goal from Reed with :05 seconds left in the half. It seemed like it would get even easier after a trick play made it 27-7.

Antwaan Randle El threw a 39-yard touchdown pass off a trick play to open the fourth quarter, building the 27-7 after Mike Wallace pulled in the TD for the lead, and all seemed well till Cincy suddenly got back into the game.

“The defense held strong,” said Roethlisberger, who was 17 of 27 for 163 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Mendenhall ran for 99 yards and a score, and Wallace had 5 grabs for 110 yards and the score.

A win is a win, and while it wasn’t pretty, the team will take it. As LaMarr Woodely put on his Facebook moments after the game – “Man that 1 felt good.. headin back home and already focused on NE!!”

The teams third straight prime-time game will be Sunday night at home vs the Patriots, a team that was just blown out on the road by Cleveland.

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. The Tony

    November 9, 2010 at 10:27 am

    There is a few things we know after the win in Cincinnati. The main point being is that how the hell does William Gay still have a roster spot. It seems that he gets beat on nearly every play. As an opposing quarterback, any time that Gay is on the field, target him because its all but a gaurantee the receiver will be open. It appears that we got our running game back on track after a few weeks of being stalled. Mendenhall is simply a game-changer, his ability to make cutbacks and use his acceleration is to breakaway makes him a homerun threat in our backfield. What we are lacking is depth on the offensive line. Every game we have atleast one O-lineman go down and have to platoon that spot. There was one play in particular that nearly cost the Steelers the game. It was third and two late in the fourth, LeGursky was on a pull and completely missed the safety allowing Mendenhall to be tackled at the line. That play could have been huge for the Steelers because there was no one left to defend which would have inevitably ended in the endzone. However LeGursky missed his assignment and then Jeff Reed missed yet another field goal which would have iced the game. Half way through the season Reed has now missed all of his attempts from 40-49, including pivotal kicks that would have given us the win against Baltimore. Reed was playing for his contract and right now it is looking very grim for him getting the contract. On the defensive side of the ball, for the majority of the year have been praising McFadden for his shutdown play, but these previous two weeks McFadden has not been playing up to his ability, and when we have two backs that cant cover including Gay, then our secondary is going to be in huge trouble. I am extremely impressed with the play of our rookies this season so far. For the little amount of time they play, they really seem to get the Steelers mentality. To start the game Sanders and Worilds came up big and silenced the Cinci crowd with the turnover. Also how awesome was it to see classic Randle El throw a bomb in the endzone, which should have completely put the Bongals away. Lastly the penalties last night was absolutely unbelievable. The last touchdown for the Bongols came from three straight penalties which were very questionable. Stemming from the interception, which should have been taken back due to a late hit/ hit to the helmet on Roethlisberger which obviously wasn’t called and then finishing in a pass interference in the end zone. The Steelers were able to hold on to a win that last year we probably would have blown. So now we need to go back to the Burgh and focus on Brady and the Pats.

    • Curt

      November 9, 2010 at 6:04 pm

      I no longer have faith in this coaching staff, they almost blown that game, how do you let a 20 point lead almost evaporate, piss poor coaching thats why. The steelers defense dominated for 3 quaters, then we get pretty much get an insurmountable lead with 14:30 left in the game then you play prevent defense and let palmer and crew march right down the field score quick and only take a few minutes off the clock after that B.S. I felt a meltdown coming, Ben’s horrible pass to double covered Miller as soon that ball left his hand that ball was wobbling all over the place I just knew it was going to be picked off. oh yeah what about the terrible calls from the refs, you might as well gift wraped that T.D. for the bengals, Reed missing a crucial field goal to finally put the game away. The Steelers at this time don’t have the talent on the O-line to go on long clock killing drives like they did when Cowher was here. thats why I would not run a prevent with almost 1 full quater to go and let the other team have a chance of getting back into this game, when our offence is 3 and out, leaving it down to a two possession ballgame with plenty of time on the game clock. this is why I don’t trust this coaching staff

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