When you are playing for your season in the NFL, teams tend to leave it all on the field. In today’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals both teams did all they could to try and extend their season. And on this day, in a game that reminded me of a heavyweight prize fight the Bengals and Steelers slugged it out for 60 minutes but in the end it was a turnover and a field goal that ended the Steelers playoff hopes as they fall 13-10 in the final play of the game.
In my preview I said the Steelers needed to focus on stuffing the run and hitting quarterback Andy Dalton at every turn. Let the secondary play loose and not stress if wide receiver AJ Green gets some catches. And for the bulk of the game that’s exactly what they did. By the midway point of the 4th quarter the Bengals had completely conceded the run game. Also, I applaud the secondary for having a great plan and executing it. Safety Troy Polamalu looked as fast and healthy as he has all season and make play after play and the corners played aggressive and tackled well.
Another factor was going to be how much the Steelers put on Roethlisberger. I assumed they would put the entire gameplan on star signal caller, but even when the Bengals defense stiffened they staff stuck with the run game to help keep things balanced. It wasn’t beautiful football, but it kept them in the game and made life easier on the defense. However it was what Roethlisberger put on himself that cost the Steelers the game.
But in the end it was a very evenly matched game, both teams taking shots and absorbing shots from the other team, the Bengals delivered the final blow with a late interception of Roethlisberger when the Steelers could have let the time go and play for overtime. One play later and it’s an easy field goal and the rest as they say is history. In the final analysis, both teams played well enough to win, but ultimately it was the timely turnover that gave the Bengals the edge. At this point the Steelers must begin to immediately evaluate this team for next season and what they can do next year to be sure the problems they had this year don’t happen again.