Steelers Report Card: Game 10 vs. Bengals
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Ben Roethlisberger took another beating, but he passed for 245 yards and orchestrated an 81-yard TD drive with a hurry-up offense right after the Bengals tied the score at 17. Roethlisberger was 14 of 22 for 175 yards in the first half and was big on third down, converting 5 of 7 when the Steelers took a 14-0 lead. Even the interception wasn't his fault. And penalty negated a TD pass to Jerricho Cotchery.
RUNNING BACKS C+
Rashard Mendenhall finished with only 44 yards on 16 carries, but he made one of the biggest plays with an off-balance 9-yard touchdown run that gave the Steelers the winning points. He also scored on a 2-yard run that gave the Steelers a 14-0 lead. The Steelers rushed for 105 yards on 30 carries, and that includes two reverse runs for 31 yards by WR Mike Wallace in the first half.
WIDE RECEIVERS B
Antonio Brown continues to be the team's most productive and go-to receiver. He finished with five catches for 86 yards. Heath Miller made a tough 18-yard catch to set up a TD and threw a big block on Mendenhall's scoring run. But he bobbled a pass that resulted in the lone interception and had an offensive interference penalty to negate a touchdown. Cotchery had one TD catch and could have had three.
OFFENSIVE LINE C-
It's never a good day when the quarterback is sacked five times and the running game averages 3.5 yards with 16- and 15-yard runs by a wide receiver. Three of the sacks came on the same series in the first half, stalling a drive and forcing the Steelers to settle for a field goal. G Chris Kemoeatu was responsible for two sacks, but he threw a big block on a counter play on Mendenhall's second TD.
DEFENSIVE LINE C
The Bengals did a nice job running the ball whenever Troy Polamalu wasn't tackling someone for a loss. They finished with 109 yards on 26 carries -- 57 by Cedric Benson -- and had 24 yards on three carries before William Gay ended their final drive with an interception. DE Brett Keisel had five tackles, a batted pass and tackle for loss. But NT Casey Hampton ran himself out of too many plays, allowing cutback runs.
The Steelers did not sack QB Andy Dalton, only the second game this season in which they didn't register a sack. But they got something better: an interception by ILB Lawrence Timmons on a tipped ball by Gay in the fourth quarter, one of two takeaways in the fourth quarter. And there were few gaffes, though backup ILB Larry Foote was late covering TE Jermaine Gresham on a 1-yard TD.
DEFENSIVE BACKS A-
Big plays by CB William Gay and two takeaways in the fourth quarter sealed the victory. Gay had a season-high four passes defensed -- including a deflection that was intercepted by Timmons -- and also intercepted Dalton with the Bengals threatening to tie the score in the final minutes. Polamalu was all over the field in the first half, but he failed to make a play on a 36-yard TD to rookie A.J. Green.
SPECIAL TEAMS A-
P Jeremy Kapinos was one of the unsung stars, averaging 50.4 yards on five punts on a gusty day. Four of the punts were into winds that gusted up to 40 mph, including a 55-yarder. His longest was 58 yards, the only one with the wind at his back. Shaun Suisham made his only field-goal try, from 39 yards, and that was into the wind, too. But there was little return yardage and a couple shaky coverage moments.
The Steelers accomplished three of their objectives: They started quick on the road with TDs on their first two drives; came up with two takeaways in the fourth quarter to end two scoring threats; and bounced back from a tough defeat. Even when the Bengals came back from 14 down to tie the score, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians went to a hurry-up offense that resulted in the winning TD drive.
First Published November 14, 2011 12:00 am