The Pittsburgh Steelers were in a tough spot on Sunday night. Their running game was decimated due to injury and their once feared defense had been porous this season, the product of more injuries and–as some would suggest–an aging nucleus. Many NFL experts thought that it was a perfect spot for Cincinnati to earn a rare victory over their divisional rivals. Instead, Pittsburgh gutted their way to a 24-17 victory to improve to 3-3 on the season with their first road win.
The Steelers were without many of their key offensive weapons including their two best running backs–Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman–and center Maurkice Pouncey and right tackle Marcus Gilbert. Cornerback Ike Taylor said that his team had their back against the wall:
“It was a back-against-the-wall mentality and you’ve got to fight your way out.”
The Bengals fell to 0-6 SU against divisional rivals Pittsburgh and Baltimore over the past three seasons. Their struggles against Pittsburgh go back even further. The Steelers have won 31 of their last 42 games against the Bengals and have been even more dominant in Cincinnati. On the Bengals’ home field the Steelers are 17-4 straight up and 16-5 against the spread. Since Cincinnati moved to Paul Brown Stadium they’re 2-12 SU against Pittsburgh.
Cincinnati has now lost three straight after opening the season 3-1. Cornerback Leon Hall lamented the Bengals blown opportunity to get a win against the Steelers:
“It’s going to be tough to sleep. At the end of the day, we’ve lost three in a row and we’re in a tough spot.”
The turning point of the game was a mistake by Bengals’ quarterback Andy Dalton, who had a pass deflected to a Steelers’ defender:
“You can’t have a thing like that happen. We had a chance to go down and score points or at least keep it where it was. What you can’t let happen is not just let the ball slip out of your hands, but let them get an interception and get points.”
The Steelers didn’t play great, but they fought throughout. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was proud of his team’s resolve:
“I’m proud of the way those young guys stepped up. There never was a doubt they would do that.”
The Steelers return home to play the Washington Redskins next week while Cincinnati has a bye week before returning to action on 11/4 at home against the Denver Broncos.