The Pittsburgh Steelers came into Paul Brown Stadium to a very pumped up Cincinnati Bengals football team, just coming off a big win against Green Bay at Lambeau Field.
Cincinnati was out for revenge against their division rivals after getting swept last season, and after having linebacker Keith Rivers knocked out for the season due to a Hines Ward block that broke his jaw.
The Steelers started out nearly perfect, going 3-3 on their first three redzone appearances with two Jeff Reed field goals and a 27-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to running back Willie Parker to go up on the Bengals 13-0.
Hines Ward also achieved an NFL milestone, moving over 10,000 career receiving yards, the only Pittsburgh wide receiver and player to do so.
After a failed fourth down attempt in shallow Bengals territory, Cincinnati was able to move the ball down back down field to make it a 10 point game with a Shayne Graham field goal.
The Steelers completely controlled the first half and looked as if it was going to be an easy win.
The Bengals first half performance didn’t even come close to matching that of the Steelers, as the last minute field goal drive to end the first half was the most offensive production on the day.
The Steelers came out in the second half looking to continue where they had left off in the first half.
However, after a questionable pass interference call on Steelers’ wide receiver Hines Ward, Roethlisberger was intercepted by Bengals’ cornerback Jonathan Joseph for an easy touchdown. Shayne Graham missed the PAT making the score 13 – 9.
After a short four play drive, Ben Roethlisberger threw deep to second year wide out Limas Sweed on what was sure to be a 34-yard touchdown strike, but Sweed was unable to hang on to the ball in the endzone. It wasn’t the first time Sweed’s dropped a touchdown pass, as he did the same in last year’s AFC Championship against the Ravens.
Jeff Reed, who was 2/2 on the day, came out for a 53-yard field goal try and missed wide left.
After a Cincinnati punt, Ben Roethlisberger initiated a 75-yard touchdown drive, capped off by a one yard run himself.
Pittsburgh failed to take advantage of a missed Shayne Graham field goal, and punted back to Cincinnati.
Carson Palmer then engineered a seven play 85 yard touchdown drive ended with a 23 yard run by running back Cedric Benson to make the score 20–15.
The Steelers were unable to convert a third and six in their own territory to take more time off the clock and were forced to punt the ball to Cincinnati for only the second time on the day.
Carson Palmer took over with just over five minutes left in the game and proceeded to pick apart the Steelers defense just as Jay Cutler had a week before.
Palmer mixed short slants along with quick passes from a three step drop that left Steelers’ pass rushers unable to pressure him and exploited holes in the secondary.
The Steeler defense was unable to stop the Bengals on several consecutive third downs and two fourth downs in the redzone to lead to a Carson Palmer touchdown to rookie wide out Andre Caldwell, his first touchdown reception of his career, and to end the game.
A two point conversion made the final score 23–20, Cincinnati.
The Steelers proved to show their inconsistency, starting out very hot, and then cooling down too fast.
Bruce Ariens play calling and the overall state of the offense looked complacent. Too many times they failed to put the Bengals away for the game and let them hang around too long.
The Steelers hurry up defense continued to show its weakness as well, proving that it can’t stop the short routes or quick passes.
On the bright side however, the running game did bounce back, as Willie Parker carried 90 yards on 24 carries.
Rookie wide receiver Mike Wallace looked to become one of Ben’s go to guys for the game with seven catches and 100 yards, making several catches in traffic. The speedy Wallace more than likely will take over the third wide out role from Limas Sweed.
The Steelers need to refocus on the task ahead and forget about the past three weeks. To avoid a repeated season of 2006, they need to be prepared for the San Diego Chargers next week in Pittsburgh, as the rest of the season could be hinging on this game.