The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals met at Heinz Field Monday night in a battle between two teams looking for their first win of the season. Primetime games are usually filled with good teams in compelling matchups, but this one just featured two winless teams who happened to be longtime rivals.
Cincinnati got things started halfway through the first quarter on a 28yd FG by Randy Bullock. This would be the only points the Bengals scored on the night as Pittsburgh’s defense kept them in check. The Steelers defense accounted for seven sacks, one fumble recovery, and one interception. This is the kind of defensive pressure this team needs in order to balance a young quarterback on the offensive side.
From the second quarter on it was all Pittsburgh. Mason Rudolph gave the Steelers the lead for good with 10:32 left in the half on a 21yd TD pass to James Conner. With under a minute to go, Chris Boswell kicked a 29yd FG to put Pittsburgh up a touchdown. This also marked the third time this season that Pittsburgh has held the lead at halftime, and that had not gone well in the previous two instances.
After halftime, Jaylen Samuels rushed for a 2yd TD to increase the lead to fourteen. Samuels was used in both the running back and wildcat position tonight. He was 3-3 for 31yds passing and rushed for 26yds on ten attempts. These may not be huge numbers, but it gives opposing defenses something to think about in the game plan. A little over a minute later, Rudolph would hit Diontae Johnson for a 43yd TD pass.
The only scoring in the fourth quarter occurred on a 49yd FG by Boswell with 5:51 left in the game. The field goal capped a 27-3 victory for the Steelers. Rudolph finished the game with 229yds passing on 24 completions. The offense continues to pass short with him at QB, that is something that will need to change so that defenses can’t stuff the box to stop the Pittsburgh offense. Conner led the team with 83yds receiving and 42yds rushing.
The Bengals are clearly not a great team, but the Steelers needed a win and did just that tonight. The win also puts them a game out of first place in the division as we reach the quarter mark in the season. Next week will be another big division game as they will welcome the Baltimore Ravens to town for a 1:00pm kickoff on CBS.