Wednesday, November 04, 2015

7-0 and Prime Time

Well, my 6-0 and Uh-Oh blog post just shows you how much I really know.

I was convinced that when the Bengals traveled to Pittsburgh last week that they'd have to win a shootout.  I wrote how the last time they won in Pittsburgh (2012) was a 13-10 dogfight.  I also wrote how neither of these teams' defenses were capable of containing the opponents' offenses and there was no way it would end up like that again.

Needless to say, the Bengals won a 16-10 dogfight.

It didn't look like it though for a good portion of the game.

On their first drive, the Steelers went 80 yards and scored a TD.  Then the Bengals moved the ball down the field and had to settle for a field goal.

The Bengals would manage another field goal to bring it to 7-6 at the half, but the Steelers wouldn't get close to the end zone for the rest of the game.  I would never have thought that.

The Steelers harassed the Cincy O for the entire day, but they did move it up and down the field (mostly due to great starting field position).  Cincy just made too many miscues -

* A blocked field goal.  The Bengals had actually kicked a field goal, but they were called for illegal procedure, so they had to kick it again.  And then it was blocked.  Luckily, a penalty on the Steelers left them deep in their own territory and unable to move the ball.

* A fumbled snap on third and short.

* An interception in the end zone from the five yard line.

* A snap that went through Andy Dalton's hands deep in their own territory that wrecked a promising drive.  I mean it's hard to convert when it's first and 25.

* Then on that same drive (3rd and 25), Dalton hurled it deep to AJ Green, who had a step on double coverage, but Green bobbled it up into the air and a Pittsburgh defender intercepted it.  But given that he taunted the Bengals after the play, it turned out to be the equivalent of a 65 yard pun.  Given how Atonio Brown terrorized the Bengals in their previous three meetings, it was actually a lucky play for the Bengals.

Finally, it was the Steelers' turn to make miscues: Big Ben threw an interception on the very next play after Dalton threw his second interception.  Third year safety Shawn Williams came up with his first career interception at the most opportune time.   Cincy drove the ball deep into Pittsburgh territory when Dalton hit AJ Green for a touchdown on third down to give the Bengals a slim 13-10 lead.

Still, the Steelers got the ball back.  But Big Ben overthrew his next pass and Reggie Nelson (who helped win the 2012 game in Pittsburgh with a last second interception that was returned into Steeler territory to help them kick a last second field goal and who picked off the Steelers late in the second game of the 2013 season to end their comeback attempt) picked off his second pass of the day to help the Bengals to a field goal, which forced the Steelers to have to try and score a TD to win the game.

Big Ben drove the Steelers deep into Cincy territory in the final 62 seconds, but he was pressured and threw a ball out of bounds to Antonio Brown on the last play to give Cincy the win.

How much this season has changed the perception of the Bengals.

For once, the Steelers played like the Bengals - making miscue after miscue and choking at key times in the game.  The Bengals literally beat the snot out of the Steelers.  It didn't hurt to get the Pro Bowl linebacker Vontaze Burfict back in time to start the game either.

On one of his first tackles, he crushed Le'Veon Bell on the sidelines, causing him to fumble out of bounds and to tear his knee up (unfortunately, he is out for the remainder of the season).  While Steelers are whining, it is simply about time they get a taste of their own medicine.  One doesn't have to think back too far to remember Kimo Von Ollefoffen hitting Carsen Palmer low and tearing up his knee in the playoffs, or Hines Ward crushing linebacker Keith Rivers' on a punt return and breaking his jaw,  or in 2013 when punter Kyle Huber was crushed again on a punt return and had his jaw broken.

It sucks.  But it's justice.  Live with it Steeler fans.

Now with the Steelers in the tank, the Bengals turn their attention to a prime time showdown with their northern state rivals, the Browns.

Though the Browns are sitting near the bottom of the AFC North at 2-6, they have always been a thorn in the side for Cincy.  In fact, every single year since Dalton and AJ Green arrived, the Browns have split with Cincy, except for their first year together.

Last year, in fact, Andy Dalton squared off against the Browns almost a year to the day as this season's match up and he had the most horrific day of any quarterback in modern day football, posting a terrible 6.0 quarterback rating as the Bengals were blown out at home 24-3.

Of course, in typic Good Andy/Bad Andy fashion, Dalton lit up the Saints the next week for three touchdowns and a near perfect QB rating.

Hopefully, with three prime time games in a row (Thursday night at home vs. the Browns, Monday night home vs. the Texans, and then next Sunday night on the road vs. the Cardinals) Dalton has a chance to exorcise some demons and show the nation how good he can be in prime time.

Of course, it helps when the rest of the team chips in and rallies around him too, as the defense and special teams did last week in Pittsburgh.

No comments: