After a slow start in which the Steelers found themselves down 14-3, the Steelers dominated the Bengals, outgaining them in total yardage 431-185.
Pittsburgh owned the clock as well, holding the ball for 37:30 as they once again did an excellent job converting third downs and running the football.
The win keeps the Steelers in the AFC North race, and there were many players deserving of the game ball for the win against the Bengals.
After a blistering start to the game, Ben Roethlisberger forced a throw to Heath Miller—who was in double coverage—that was intercepted in the end zone and later lost a fumble, but that did not stop him.
Roethlisberger helped carry the offense as the Steelers earned their first road victory of the season.
While he was sacked three times and turned it over twice, Roethlisberger was outstanding connecting on 27-of-37 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown. He also threw for a two-point conversion as well.
Roethlisberger was the victim of several drops by Mike Wallace as well, or his numbers would have been even better.
He was excellent behind a banged-up offensive line and made the plays when he needed to.
Without Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert, the Steelers offensive line looked to be in terrible shape.
Mike Adams was starting at right tackle, and his previous experience had not been good, but he held his own and actually played a very strong game.
In fact, the entire line did, as the Steelers were able to protect Roethlisberger. Even though they allowed three sacks, they provided him plenty of time to make plays from the pocket.
What was even more impressive was the run-blocking.
After entering the game ranked second to last in rushing, the Steelers gained 167 yards on 29 carries. They also opened up a hole for Chris Rainey’s first career touchdown.
When it was announced that Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman were going to miss the game and Jonathan Dwyer would start, not much was expected from him.
The Steelers came into the game with the 31st-ranked rushing offense and were without two starting offensive linemen. None of that would matter for Dwyer.
Dwyer looked like a feature back with 17 carries for 122 yards and an impressive 7.2 yards-per-carry average. His longest run of 32 yards was the longest by a Steelers player this year.
Down the stretch when the Steelers needed to run the ball to kill the clock, Dwyer could not be stopped as he broke tackles to gain huge chunks of yardage.
Whether it was catching the ball or blocking, Heath Miller seemed to do it all against the Bengals.
Who earned the game ball for the victory over the Bengals?
Miller was brilliant catching a bullet from Roethlisberger for the first touchdown of the game and then doing a great job to catch the fade on the two-point conversion.
Besides his receptions, Miller did an excellent job blocking, which was needed with the injury-riddled offensive line.
Late in the game when the Steelers needed a big play, Miller caught a 30-yard pass from Roethlisberger down the seam which helped seal the game for Pittsburgh.
Miller finished the game with six receptions for 53 yards, but it was the things that didn’t appear on the stats sheet that made the difference.
Antonio Brown left a lot of special teams yards on the field due to penalties, but even with the lack of official return yards, he was a threat every time he touched the ball and was excellent in the passing game.
Brown ran the ball twice for 13 yards, had 10 yards on three punt returns—keeping in mind the lost yardage on penalties—and led all receivers with seven receptions for 96 yards.
Many of Brown’s receptions came over the middle, and he made the most of the space that he had to work with.
Brown’s role was particularly important, considering Mike Wallace had a bad game with three drops.
Keenan Lewis may have had the best game of his career.
Lewis came up big time after time with two pass defenses—including one in the end zone that prevented a touchdown.
Pittsburgh put Lewis on an island throughout the night as the safety was often sent over to help Ike Taylor against A.J. Green.
In addition to outstanding coverage, Lewis had three tackles.
After playing some of the worst football of his career, Ike Taylor was nearly invisible against the Bengals—and that was a very good thing.
Taylor had a huge pass knocked away from Green on a key third down late in the game to prevent a first down.
Beyond that, Taylor’s name wasn’t heard, as he helped limit Green to one reception for eight yards, which also happened to be a touchdown.
That is not bad, considering the season that Green had been having.
In one of the best games that the Steelers played all season, it is difficult to give the game ball to one player because so many players earned it.
However, given the adversity that they faced, the offensive line did an excellent job in pass protection and run-blocking and was just as important as anyone else on the field Sunday night.
Given that two starters were out and they played their best football of the season, the Pittsburgh offensive line earned the game ball for the victory over the Bengals.