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Bengals vs. Steelers: Live Game Grades and Analysis for Pittsburgh

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 16:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball dwhile defended by LaMarr Woodley #56 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game at Paul Brown Stadium on September 16, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Dan SnyderCorrespondent IDecember 16, 2013

After two straight losses nearly pushed the Pittsburgh Steelers completely out of the playoffs, they answered with a big win over the division rival Cincinnati Bengals

Ben Roethlisberger hit on 20 of his 25 passes and LeVeon Bell totaled 107 yards from scrimmage, as the Steelers did most of their damage in the first half. The win puts Pittsburgh at 6-8 on the season and keeps its very slim postseason hopes alive. 

 

Final

Bengals: 20

Steelers: 30  

Pittsburgh Steelers Game Grades
Positional UnitFirst-Half GradeFinal Grade
Pass OffenseA+B+
Run OffenseB+B+
Run DefenseAA+
Pass DefenseA-B+
Special TeamsAA
CoachingB+A-
vs. Cincinnati, Week 15

Final Analysis for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Pass Offense: Ben Roethlisberger was the model of efficiency in the win over the Bengals on Sunday night. Roethlisberger connected on 20 of his 25 passes for 191 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

It wasn’t Roethlisberger’s best game, and he threw his first interception in five contests on a ball that was knocked down by the wind. But he gave the Steelers enough to get a big home divisional win. Give Roethlisberger the credit he’s due, because if this were a contending team, we may be talking about him as an MVP candidate.

Run Offense: On a very solid ground day for the Steelers, the team rushed for 106 yards and a score. LeVeon Bell again led the way with 57 yards and a score while also contributing 50 yards through the air.

The Steelers came in averaging about 77 yards per game on the ground, so anytime they get over 100, it’s a big deal. But Pittsburgh ran the ball very efficiently in this game and helped keep the Bengals defense off balance.

Run Defense: This was about as good as the Steelers could stop the run. Giovanni Bernard was the Bengals leading rusher at just 33 yards.

As a team, Cincinnati ran for only 57 yards and averaged 2.6 per carry. The Steelers front seven was very stout, and although an early deficit helped contribute to low rushing numbers, the Pittsburgh D can’t be overlooked.

Pass Defense: Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense was much better in the second half, but to no avail. The Steelers held Dalton to 230 yards through the air on 25-of-44 passing. They also added one sack.

The key here was the Steelers didn’t give up a big play. They had previously given up 11 plays of 50-plus yards this season, and with guys like A.J. Green and Marvin Jones on the field, that’s impressive. It was a very good outing by the Steelers secondary.

Special Teams: It was an excellent day for the Steelers’ special teams unit. It recovered a Kevin Huber fumble at the 1 yard-line, and Antonio Brown returned a punt for a score. Shaun Suisham added three field goals, and Mat McBriar had a nice day punting the ball.

Coaching: This was as good a coaching job as the Steelers staff has done all season long. Offensively, the Steelers stuck to the no-huddle and let Ben Roethlisberger have more control over the game. Defensively they almost looked like the Steelers of old.

It’s games like these where you can see glimpses of just how good this team could be. But injuries and just poor play have held it back all season. Its probably too little, too late for the Steelers in 2013.

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 15:  Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers rushes against the Cincinnati Bengals during the game on December 15, 2013 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

First-Half Analysis for the Pittsburgh Steelers

Pass Offense: What a half by Big Ben. The Steelers quarterback threw for 119 yards and a score, all while missing on just three of his 17 throws. The offensive line hasnt allowed a sack, and Roethlisberger has barely been touched. 

Roethlisberger has carved up the Bengals secondary with short passes and smart play. It’s a huge reason the Steelers have completely dominated the first half of this ballgame. The run game should be heavy in the second half with a 20-point lead, but he will still play his part.

Run Offense: There hasn’t been a ton of room for the Steelers backs in the first half, but I’ve certainly seen it a lot worse. Le’Veon Bell continues to lead the Steelers with 26 yards on 11 carries and scored his sixth touchdown of the season.

As a team, Pittsburgh has run for 63 yards in the first half, putting it on pace to almost double its season average for a game. With a big lead, expect a lot of carries in the second half.

Run Defense: Even with Steve McLendon and Brett Keisel out of the lineup, the Steelers front has been impressive to say the least. Cincinnati mustered a pedestrian 34 yards on the ground in the first half.

With an explosive player like Giovani Bernard in the backfield, this is a great job by the Steelers defense. An early lead by Pittsburgh may have something to do with it, but either way, the Steelers need to keep this up.

Pass Defense: This is a half Andy Dalton would love to forget. Pittsburgh has held Cincinnati’s QB to just 65 yards while hitting only seven of his 17 attempts.

A.J. Green also only has four catches in the first half, and nothing has gotten behind the defense. Those are both big wins for Pittsburgh.

Special Teams: It’s been a ton of special teams miscues for the Bengals to start this game. Punter Kevin Huber dropped a punt that gave the Steelers the ball at the 1-yard line. Then, Antonio Brown took another punt to the house. It’s a very, very good start for the Pittsburgh special teams unit.

Coaching: I don’t know where this team has been all year, but I like what I see. The offense has scored on five straight possessions to close out the half and looks fantastic. On the defensive side of the ball, the game plan has been perfect, holding the Bengals to 91 yards of offense.

It’s a tremendous start for the Steelers coaching staff in a game that’s more or less meaningless in terms of playoff hopes. Either way, you always want to see the Steelers beat the Bengals.

 

Follow on Twitter: @dsnyder34.

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