Week 7 Game Recap: Pittsburgh Steelers 27, Cincinnati Bengals 13
What you need to know
The Steelers got in touch with their roots by running, running and running some more. Willie Parker resurfaced after a couple of rough weeks and a very slow first half to rush for 131 yards and a touchdown. He could only gain 26 yards in the first half, but took his 11 second half carries for 105 yards. He displayed his top speed and a dose of unexpected power in averaging 7.3 yards per carry, which was highlighted by a 37 yard score giving the Steelers a 17-6 lead in the third quarter. Jerome Bettis added 13 carries for 56 yards (4.3 avg.), including 42 in the first half, and Verron Haynes mopped up the fourth quarter with 35 yards to give the Steelers 221 total rushing yards. The offense held the ball for over 35 minutes.
Ben Roethlisberger, in turn, had a relatively easy statistical afternoon completing nine of 14 passes for a pedestrian 93 yards and two touchdowns. Most attempts were from play action, due to the success of the running game, and Roethlisberger only needed two targets. Heath Miller caught six passes for 58 yards and a second quarter touchdown, and Hines Ward returned from a hamstring injury to catch three balls for 35 yards and a score at the end of the third quarter.
Pittsburgh’s defense, like the running game started slowly. They allowed the Bengals to two first quarter drives that totaled 117 yards and nine first downs on 25 plays in over ten minutes. The Bengals, however, would only score three points. The Steelers went on to hold Cincinnati to under seven yards in five of the Bengals next seven possessions (106 total yards), before allowing 79 yards and a touchdown in garbage time. The Steelers had two sacks, 12 quarterback hurries, two interceptions and seven quarterback hurries.
Cincinnati opened up the game with three straight passing plays, to loosen up the Pittsburgh defense. They followed that up by having Rudi Johnson run right down their throats. When the Steelers tightened up, Carson Palmer crossed them up again by going to the air and the Bengals had the Steelers on their heels early. Despite their first quarter domination, they only held a 3-0 lead thanks to a couple of dropped passes, a replay reversal of a Chad Johnson touchdown and a missed field goal. Already giving up the momentum, the Bengals gave up the game with two third quarter turnovers on offense, and a whole lot of rushing yards on defense.
Carson Palmer came out firing and welcomed the return of T.J. Houshmandzadeh (seven receptions for 75 yards) who had been out with a bruised right hand. Speaking of hands, Palmer threw a nearly perfect pass to Chad Johnson in the back of the end zone, but the diving Johnson touched the back line with his hand and the officials overturned the score. Palmer couldn’t find much rhythm afterwards even though his completion rate increased. He finished 21 of 36 for 221, but threw two costly interceptions in the third quarter, which led to ten Steelers’ points.
Rudi Johnson started off with a bang and finished with a fizzle. Although it was hard for him to continue his first quarter success when he wasn’t given the ball. He had six carries for 44 yards after the first drive, but inexplicably had just three carries the rest of the half, and only 12 the entire game. Chris Perry added some punch to the passing game, but had only one yard rushing. Some offensive numbers for the Bengals were bloated after a 79 yard drive late in the fourth quarter against many Pittsburgh backups. Chad Johnson had four receptions for 94 yards with 47 of them coming with 2:33 left in the game.
Cincinnati’s defense held Pittsburgh to 12 yards on their first four plays. They then sacked Roethlisberger for a loss of 11 on third and five, but rookie Odell Thurman was offsides, giving new life for the Steelers, and as a result, a long day for the Bengals. They gave up 221 rushing yards and a Willie Parker touchdown along with two Roethlisberger touchdown passes.
What you ought to know
Roethlisberger returned after missing a game with an injured knee, but had to put little strain on it as the running game accounted for 70% of the total yards. He used six of his nine completions to find the increasing popular TE Heath Miller, including a two yard score in the second quarter. The other three completions were reserved for Hines Ward, who caught a four yard touchdown pass in the third quarter. Roethlisberger and Ward nearly converted for a 37 yard score, but the ball was jarred loose when Ward fell hard on his hip in the end zone. The only blemish to his game was an interception early in the third quarter, his first of the season, but he was saved when the Steelers’ defense returned the favor just a few plays later.
Parker emerged back after a few rough games against some tough competition. After gaining 55, 26 and 55 yards over that span, Parker rebounded for 131 on 18 carries yesterday. Parker’s first half was reminiscent of recent games (seven carries, 26 yards), but with the help of Jerome Bettis, who softened up the trenches in the second quarter, Parker used his quick cuts and speed to blow the game open with 105 yards on his 11 second half carries. He helped put the game out of reach with a 37 yard touchdown run in the third quarter and he gained 49 yards on six carries in the fourth quarter.
There were questions as to why Bettis was not used more last week, particularly in overtime, in the loss to Jacksonville, but the Bus was in action early in the second quarter for Willie Parker, who struggled early. Bettis was quick to the hole and displayed fancy feet as he plowed for 42 first half yards, all in the second quarter. His long of 16 came on third and 13 after he cut through an open hole on the left side and dragged a few defenders over the imaginary first down line. He rushed seven times for 14 yards in the third quarter.
Haynes saw limited time in the first three quarters (one carry, 0 yards), but cleaned up the fourth with 35 yards. He fumbled his last attempt, but it was his eighth consecutive carry of the drive in a game that was long over.
|WR Hines Ward, Rush: 1 - 4 - 0, Rec: 3 - 35 - 1 (4 targets)|
Ward and his hamstring looked good and he made the most of his three receptions. He was clearly excited after a sliding 18 yard catch on third and 12 when he drew a taunting penalty, but he made up for it with a four yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to give the Steelers a 24-6 lead. He also gave the key kick-out block on Willie Parker’s 37 yard touchdown run. Ward appeared to injure his hip when he landed hard on his right hip in the end zone, but returned a few plays later and caught a 12 yard pass. He looked like he was fine dancing in the end zone mocking Chad Johnson. He had one rush for four yards.
See Antwaan Randle El minus the punt returns and add one dropped pass.
Randle El was nowhere to be found and put up a goose egg yesterday. He had three punt returns for 20 yards.
Morgan, who is typically used on four wide receiver sets, was rarely needed. He had two kick returns for 31 yards.
The rookie Miller is making a name for himself in Pittsburgh, something a Steelers’ tight end has failed to over the last ten years. Miller caught six balls for 58 yards and a touchdown yesterday giving him 14 receptions, 166 yards and three touchdowns over the last three games. He caught two passes for 21 yards, both on play action and was found wide open by Ben Roethlisberger on a play action two yard score in the second quarter. Miller’s finest play was on a seemingly routine five yard catch; after avoiding the first tackler, he ran over safety Kevin Kaesviharn for a ten yard gain and the first down.
Reed hit field goals of 27 and 39 yards, and converted all three extra point attempts.
With extra attention being paid to WR Chad Johnson, the Steelers began with just six defenders in the box. But after allowing Rudi Johnson 44 yards on six carries on Cincinnati’s first drive, they closed the gates and yielded just 47 yards on the ground throughout the rest of the game. James Farrior (six total tackles) and Larry Foote (five) each had four solos. The Steelers held an opposing rusher to under 100 yards for the 18th straight game.
The Steelers saw some breaks in the first quarter, having a Chad Johnson touchdown reversed via replay and a ball fall out of Chris Henry’s lap in the end zone, but they tightened up and prevented the Bengals from getting a big play afterwards. Johnson was tied up most of the day by corner Ike Taylor, and rookie Bryant McFadden saw the most playing time of the season after Willie Williams was benched after the first quarter. Defensive end Kimo Von Oelhoffen had a sack and tipped a pass to end Aaron Smith, who caught his first career interception. Corner Deshea Townsend played sparingly in the nickel and dime packages to nurse a sore hamstring. Chris Hope had six tackles and an interception.
|QB Carson Palmer, Pass: 21 - 36 - 227 - 0 TD / 2 INT, Rush: 3 - 8 - 1|
Palmer started strong as he completed six passes in the first quarter as he lead the Bengals to two drives for 110 yards in over ten minutes of game clock. But he fell victim to the instant replay decision to reverse a Chad Johnson touchdown, in which Palmer put the pass exactly where it had to be for the catch to be made, and a dropped touchdown pass by Chris Henry, which hit him right on the numbers. Palmer never regained that first quarter edge. He failed to put points up after his defense intercepted his counterpart, Ben Roethlisberger, in the third quarter and he threw one of his own just three plays later. A tipped pass on the next drive fell into the Steelers hands and the Bengals went from trailing 7-6 to being down 17-6 in just over two minutes.
|RB Rudi Johnson, Rush: 12 - 65 - 0, Rec: 2 - 1 - 0 (3 targets)|
Chants of “Rudi, Rudi, Rudi” were heard early on as Johnson ripped up the Steelers front seven for 44 yards on the Bengals opening drive. He had gains of 16, 12 and nine yards that almost set the stage for a Chad Johnson touchdown, but the play was reversed after replay. But for some unknown reason, Johnson would get just six more carries the rest of the game, even though Cincinnati led for trailed by no more than four points for two and a half quarters. He added one yard on two receptions via the screen pass.
|RB Chris Perry, Rush: 3 - 1 - 0, Rec: 5 - 43 - 0 (6 targets)|
Perry was effective in the passing game catching five balls in the flat for 43 yards with a long gain of 15. But like Rudi Johnson, he saw very little action on the ground after the Bengals had early success in the first quarter.
Houshmandzadeh had missed the previous two games with a bruised hand, but came back strong and appeared to be the spark Cincinnati needed in defending their division lead. He caught four passes for 53 yards in the first quarter, and helped the Bengals get into scoring range twice. While he finished the day on a quieter note, he proved to be a solid weapon when Chad Johnson has trouble breaking free, as he did yesterday.
Johnson’s numbers were good, but he wasn’t nearly as big a factor as he would’ve liked to be. It certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying, however. He made a superb grab in the back left corner of the end zone on the Bengals' first drive. But replays showed that his hand grazed the back line before his elbow landed in bounds, and the touchdown was reversed. He also made a fine diving catch for 20 yards, but had just 47 yards in the game before he doubled that total with one catch very late in the game in mop up time.
Washington was a non-factor catching one pass for six yards.
Henry had a chance to give Cincinnati a 7-0 in the first quarter, but let a perfect pass by Carson Palmer bounce right off of his chest in the end zone.
Kelly caught two dumps for eight yards.
Schobel was on the field at times, but did not register a catch.
Graham wasted the Bengals’ opening drive by hooking a 30 yard field goal attempt. He later hit his next two from 26 and 39 yards out. He converted one extra point as well.
The Bengals held Pittsburgh to 12 yards on their first two series. Then Jerome Bettis came in the game and wounded the front seven until Willie Parker could get back on track for 131 yards. Cincinnati allowed 221 rushing yards and a touchdown, including a back breaking 37 yarder by Parker in the third quarter. Odell Thurman had 11 total tackles (seven solo) and a forced fumble.
Cincinnati’s secondary wasn’t tested often and, due to having play the run often, were exploited on play action passing. They only gave up 93 yards, but they only had to defend the pass 14 times. They have up two touchdowns inside the five yard line, one to TE Heath Miller who no one picked up on second and two. Tory James got his third interception of the year. LB David Pollack left the game in the first half with an undisclosed knee injury.