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For the second time in as many weeks, the Steelers needed the right leg of Chris Boswell to win under the lights.
Boswell booted a 38-yard field goal as time expired Monday to lift the Steelers to a 23-20 win over the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.
The three-point margin of victory was the only lead the Steelers held the entire game. The Steelers also needed a last-second field goal last week to get past the Packers.
Things didn’t look well for the Steelers (10-2) early when leading tackler Ryan Shazier was lost with a back injury on Cincinnati’s opening series.
The Bengals (6-6) jumped out to a 17-0 lead for their largest lead against the Steelers since 1999 and held a 17-3 halftime advantage.
But Pittsburgh stormed back as Ben Roethlisberger shook off an early interception to throw for 290 yards and two touchdowns. The game-tying score was a 6-yard pass to Antonio Brown, who took a vicious hit from George Iloka in the end zone but held onto the ball.
— NFL (@NFL) December 5, 2017
Brown caught eight passes for 101 yards, but it was the patient and powerful running of Le’Veon Bell that helped the Steelers rally for the win. Bell finished with 76 rushing yards on 18 carries and caught five passes for 106 yards and a pivotal touchdown in the third quarter.
Here are three takeaways from the Steelers’ win over the Bengals
1. Steelers continue to play down to opponents — Just as the Steelers did last week at home against the Packers, who are still without injured quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the Steelers fell behind early to a lesser opponent. The Steelers lost to the lowly Bears earlier this season, but were the first team to hand the Chiefs their first loss to begin Kansas City’s downward spin.
With an early interception to set up a field goal, Roethlisberger has thrown an interception in six of Pittsburgh’s seven road games this season. That does not bode well for the Steelers if they have to travel to New England in the postseason. The Steelers do get the Patriots at Heinz Field on Dec. 17, but first have to get past the Ravens next week.
2. Overzealous officiating is ruining the game — Because the NFL has tried to officiate safety into the game, we see players afraid to play defense. There were two examples in Monday’s game. Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree wrapped up Dalton, but let him go when he thought Dalton released the ball. The Bengals quarterback had not and spun away, though did through an incomplete pass.
The other instance allowed the Steelers to score as a trio of Bengals defenders let up near the sideline and Bell ran right past cornerback William Jackson for a 35-yard touchdown.
— NFL (@NFL) December 5, 2017
There were 20 penalties for 239 yards and, while some of those penalties were justified, several were questionable calls that even ESPN’s broadcast team of Sean McDonough and Jon Gruden called out. The Bengals remained an undisciplined group, flagged 13 times for 173 yards.
3. There will be plenty of fines and possible suspensions from Monday’s game — While Shazier was injured on a hit he delivered with his head lowered, Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was carted off after he was hit with a devastating crackback hit from Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. The rookie was flagged for the illegal hit and for taunting Burfict, who has a reputation as a dirty player. Smith-Schuster is facing a fine and possible suspension.
Ilako’s hit on Brown was also flagged and he will likely be fined. The Bengals and Steelers have a nasty rivalry, but at some point the players have to police themselves and realize their own livelihoods are at stake.
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