Late in Sunday’s game, the Cincinnati Bengals looked poised to vanquish the hopes of the rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North.
A Joe Mixon touchdown run gave Cincinnati a 21-20 lead with 1:18 remaining and had the Bengals looking at a 5-1 start that would have buried the Steelers at the bottom of the division at 2-3-1.
Steelers do what Steelers do vs. Bengals
Then what tends to happen in these Steelers-Bengals matchups happened.
The Steelers found themselves facing third-and-10 with 29 seconds remaining on their own 41-yard line in desperate need of a big play. They got three of them.
Ben Roethlisberger looked deep for JuJu Smith-Schuster, who got held by Dre Kirkpatrick to give Pittsburgh a new set of downs.
Roethlisberger connected with Smith-Schuster on the next play for a 23-yard gain to get the Steelers in reasonable field goal territory.
Antonio Brown comes up with game-winner
Then, on first-and-10 at the Bengals 31, the Steelers dialed up the perfect play. Cincinnati came with an all-out blitz, and Antonio Brown found a seam up the middle just beyond the line of scrimmage. Roethlisberger dumped it to his All-Pro wide receiver, who did the work from there to score the go-ahead touchdown.
The Bengals got the ball back with 10 seconds left and couldn’t find a miracle. The Steelers held on for a 28-21 win, and all of the sudden, things are a lot more interesting in the AFC North.
The touchdown was the first of the day for Roethlisberger, who had a big day in the air otherwise with 364 yards and no interceptions.
Steelers offense clicking
James Conner had another huge game filling in for Le’Veon Bell, tallying 111 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Brown (105) and Smith-Schuster (111) both went over the 100-yard receiving mark, and the Steelers offense looked in general like the high-octane unit we’ve come to know.
In a rare sighting this season, the Steelers defense showed up on Sunday too. Pittsburgh outgained Cincinnati in total offense, 481 yards to 275. Andy Dalton managed just 5.5 yards per pass attempt while throwing for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Mixon was efficient, but had only had 11 carries while tallying 64 yards on the ground.
The Steelers controlled the clock and the gameplan, holding on the ball for 35 of the game’s 60 minutes
Now, at 3-2-1, they sit just a half game back of the first-place 4-2 Bengals, who must have a sinking feeling in their collective stomachs after squandering an opportunity to put a hated rival in the rearview.
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