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Game Thirteen: Defense Dominates Palmer and the Bengals in 23-7 Win

On a day when things didn’t start very good for the 9-3 Steelers, they could not have ended any better.

The black and gold completed a sweep of the very bad Bengals Sunday, winning on the strength of two defensive touchdowns in a 23-7 victory. They trailed 7-0 just over 5 minutes into the game, but dominated from there, as they at one point in the middle of the game the Bengals had six drives that resulted in zero yards on 10 plays.

The Steelers got two interception returns for touchdowns, one from Troy Polamalu that tied the game at seven, and another from LaMarr Woodley that more than sealed the deal in the fourth quarter to make it 20-7 with 12:21 left.

Pittsburgh, now at 10-3, couldn’t get into the end zone on offense despite dominating the time of possession. They outgained the Bengals 314 to 190, and Ben Roethlisberger threw for 258 yards on 21-for-33 passing. His favorite wide out, Hines Ward, had 8 catches for 115 yards. Rashard Mendenhall had 66 yards on 18 carries, as the Steelers ran for 123 yards.

Carson Palmer threw three picks total, and was 20-for-32 for 178 yards. He was also sacked three times. He got the Bengals in the end zone on a nifty 8-play, 69-yard drive that ended with Palmer going to OL Andrew Whitworth for a 1-yard TD to make it 7-0.

It took the Steelers time for their offense to get going, much like the Raiders game a few weeks back. Once Polamalu got the 45-yard pick return with 4:35 left in the first half, the Steelers had momentum the remainder of the day. They got a field goal of 23 yards from Shaun Suisham with :21 left in the first half to make it 10-7.

Suisham kicked two more field goals, from 35 and 41 yards out to make it 13-7 and 23-7. He is now 7-for-7 as a Steeler since coming in for Jeff Reed three weeks ago.

The defense was the story though, as they never allowed Cincinnati to do much of anything on offense once they got back in the game, and overall after the first Bengal 69 yard drive they allowed just 121 yards over the last 55 minutes of play.

Next week gets a lot tougher, as the New York Jets come to town for a 4:15pm game at Heinz Field.

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. DrGeorge

    December 12, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    This was one gutty and very ugly win.

    Mr. Loede’s pre-game prediction of the score was a bit lofty on the final score, but right on the money with regard to the spread. Kudoes to you, Matt. You called it right. I figured it would be closer.

    In my pre-game comment with The Tony, I expressed doubt that the Steelers offense could put up 30 points against Cincy, but I certainly didn’t expect Zero TDs from our offense. I also championed the short passing game and Redman running the ball more, to take the pressure off Ben and the O-line and save Ben some hits. I didn’t see Arians employ those ideas, and Ben got sacked too often, as usual, and the offense was anemic behind our makeshift O-line. I see a cause and effect relationship there, even if B. Arians doesn’t. (I recommend he view the tape of New England dismantling a solid Chicago team to see what I’m talking about.)

    What no one really knows but the coaches is how much injuries have affected their play-calling and stragetic thinking. Tomlin and his coaches may have been playing for time in this game, hoping to squeak by Cincy intact and let some key players get healthier. It’s the only excuse I can offer for the offensive playcalling and over all performance.

    However, pre-game, I said I would be happy with a win. And I am. Thank heaven for the defense. Without the stalwart D and a much improved special teams unit, this would be one sorry football team right now. We will probably win our division, but we must play better offense than this if we expect to get anywhere in the playoffs.

  2. George H

    December 12, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    No response from Jay… I guess Microsoft cant find enough synonyms for him to rip how bad the refs and the o-line are.

    Troy looks like he should win Defensive MVP this year with making big play time and time again in crucial moments.

    The team has to tighten up with the penalties but overall another gritty win. The offense didn’t score but they controlled the time of possession. They kept the ball out of the Bengals hands all game and allowed the defense to get some much needed rest. Apparently an offense can be affective without scoring touchdowns.

    Hat tip to Big Ben… After taking shots all game, some of which were pretty questionable if a flag should have been drawn for roughing or late hit, he still stood strong and was never rattled. After all the skeptics at the beginning of the year and the immense criticism he received he still has this team at 10-3 and showing that he is a great team player.

    • jay

      December 13, 2010 at 6:44 pm

      I use Mac…Microsoft sucks, slurps, blows, is putrid, horrid, incorrigible, retarded, gay, hapless, “refereesque” (I had to look that one up), garbage, shitty, faulty, erroneous and all-in-all just plain stinks!

      • George H

        December 13, 2010 at 11:30 pm

        haha thats pretty funny

  3. mark

    December 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    I have to say that I am not that worried about the lack of Td’s the past few weeks. As long as the team is moving the ball and controlling time of position, the scores will come. Yesterday, it was penalties and poor o-line play that derailed the scoring.This is a common theme this season, isnt it? The Jets will provide another stern test for this offense, similar to the Ravens game. I can see the Steelers moving the ball again, only this time look for the Td’s to come! The match-ups favor the Steelers because of their growing confidence in Sanders and Brown, not to mention hopefully getting Miller back. It might be pick your poison for the reeling Jets. On defense, I would be shocked to see the Jets have great success. Yes, they will move the ball, but will they score enough points to beat the Steelers at home? I dont see it. If the Steelers protect the ball and do better up front (although this late in the season I have my doubts) they win without a problem.

  4. Pingback: Look Back: Polamalu’s TD Flight Helps Steelers To Huge 2010 Win Over Bengals » Steelers Gab

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