55 degrees / rain, wind to 13mph
- Play Calling: 2nd half offensive production has been a problem for the Bengals all season, and it happened again in this game. However, there were a number of play calls that were good calls, but players simply didn’t execute, particularly the wide receivers. On their first offensive series after the Steelers had tied the game, the Bengals faced a 2nd and 23. They had a nice play call to WR Brandon LaFell over the middle of the Steeler defense, but LaFell dropped the ball. If LaFell could have caught the ball, the Bengals would have faced a 3rd and reasonable; instead, they had to punt after a 3rd and 23, and that gave the Steelers the ball back for a game –winning FG.
- Personnel: CB William Gay is one of the longest tenured Steelers, and they use him creatively in certain dime packages. He came into this game on some critical downs and contributed. The Steelers also do a good job with packages for other players such as TE Xavier Grimble, who they tend to use effectively on screen passes.
- Game Planning: The Bengals came out with a good offensive game plan. They wanted to go up tempo, get the ball out of QB Andy Dalton’s hand quickly, and use multiple formations early. All of it worked well, and that staked them to an early 10-0 lead. Dalton is good at the quick passing game, and we’d like to see the Bengals use it much more often. However, the Bengals struggle with playing 60 minutes, and when games get tight, they seem to get tight as well, and in the 2nd half, their tempo basically vanished.
- In-Game Adjustments: Dalton had too much time to throw early in this game, and for quite a while, he was able to do what he wanted with the pass game; it took some Bengal drops by WRs LaFell and AJ Green to keep the Steelers in business defensively. The Steelers, however, adjusted well in the 2ndhalf as they began to blitz more. When the Steelers closed to 20-13, the Bengals had a 1st & 10, and the Steelers blitzed right away, and that resulted in an 8 yard loss.
- Clock Management: The Steelers did an excellent job stealing a FG at the end of the first half in :21, after starting on their own 17 yard line. In the first half, the Bengals did a good job of getting out of huddles quickly and keeping the tempo quick on offense, they bogged down the 2nd half, and so did their production.
- What We Liked: The Steelers going to their very best players with the game on the line in the 2ndhalf. They didn’t get cute and try to force it to other players; they stuck with their best offensive players to come back in this game.
- What We Didn’t Like: First, the Bengals simply committed too many penalties – over 150 yards of penalties in a must-win game just isn’t acceptable. Second, the Bengals giving up 3 points on a FG at the end of the half. To let a team drive nearly 60 yards in :21 seconds is just undisciplined. The Steelers had nothing going to that point, and those 3 points let them feel better going into halftime.