Moderately than clinching the division, the Pittsburgh Steelers dropped their third straight in a 27-17 street loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, snapping the Steelers’ 11-game win streak in opposition to the franchise.
It was speculated to be a get-right sport in opposition to a two-win group, the proper stage on Monday Evening Soccer to cease a two-game skid and reclaim the AFC North crown for the primary time since 2017.
As a substitute, it was a humiliation.
“I am not upset — I am simply pissed off,” Steelers defensive captain Cam Heyward mentioned. “We simply misplaced the rattling sport. I feel that is the way in which our group feels. We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves, however we have to get the job carried out. We’re two weeks out.
“We have simply bought to play our model of soccer. Assault the road of scrimmage, offense and protection. We have to make performs early and never be in a catch-up sport. As a protection, for those who get within the crimson zone, it is bought to be three factors or nothing. It might probably‘t be touchdowns. They go up early, and to begin 17-0, you are asking for lots from our offense. Our offense simply has to begin quick.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers (11-3) entered Monday’s sport as 14.5-point favorites. With the loss, they matched their largest upset defeat since 1966.
Together with the Rams’ loss to the Jets on Sunday, Week 15 marked the fourth time within the Tremendous Bowl period that two underdogs of 14-plus factors received outright.
Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers’ 38-year-old quarterback, seemed each bit his age within the first half, placing collectively a efficiency that led to the worst offensive effort in any first half in his 17-season Steelers profession.
Along with setting new lows in passing yards (7) and yards per play (1.4), the Steelers matched their fewest first downs (two) and most turnovers in a primary half (three) with Roethlisberger as their starter en path to a 17-point halftime deficit.
“I am not constant sufficient, which impacts the offense as a result of the ball is in my hand each play,” Roethlisberger mentioned.
The Bengals (3-10-1) took these three turnovers — two fumbles and an interception — and turned them into two touchdowns and a area objective.
“That was not adequate for us,” Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin mentioned. “The efficiency speaks for itself. We turned the ball over on the early parts of the sport. You may‘t do this. You may‘t do this vs. anyone. We gave them a brief area 3 times within the first half or so, and so it was an uphill battle the remainder of the way in which due to that.”
As a substitute of counting on quick passes, Roethlisberger got here out and tried lengthy and intermediate throws that appeared lacking from the offense the previous few weeks. However he did not have any success pushing the ball down the sector, misfiring and underthrowing his receivers.
The drops that plagued his receivers in current video games weren’t the issue. Roethlisberger’s throws simply weren’t on the mark.
Roethlisberger failed to finish any of his seven throws of 10-plus air yards within the first half, and 6 of them had been damaged up or intercepted by Bengals defenders.
“I simply felt like they had been taking absent among the beneath stuff, so we needed to take some photographs down the sector and the disconnect was me not making it occur,” Roethlisberger mentioned.
For the primary time in 20 seasons — together with the postseason — the Steelers went three-and-out on their first 5 possessions, together with two fumbles that led to 10 factors for the Bengals. It marked the primary time since Week 3 of 2017 on the Bears that the Steelers misplaced two fumbles within the first quarter.
The Pittsburgh Steelers failed to realize a primary down within the first quarter for the primary time since 2018 Week 8 vs. the Browns. Their first first down Monday got here with simply lower than 10 minutes to go within the second quarter.
The Steelers began to climb out of the three-score gap within the third quarter, as Roethlisberger accomplished seven of 10 passes for 89 yards and a landing on a 23-yard deep strike to Diontae Johnson, his first completion of 10-plus air yards Monday.
Taking part in with out working again James Conner, who was dominated out due to a quad harm previous to the sport, the run sport was as soon as once more nonexistent within the first half. However Benny Snell Jr. got here alive within the second half with runs of 13 and 29 yards. The 29-yard achieve was the longest run by a Steelers working again since Week 2, when Conner picked up 59 yards.
Nonetheless, it wasn’t sufficient.
Roethlisberger completed the sport finishing 20 of 38 makes an attempt for 170 yards with one landing and one interception — simply sufficient to offer him 60,000 passing yards in his profession.
A Bengals offense led by third-string quarterback Ryan Finley wore down a Steelers protection enjoying with vital accidents to its inside linebackers. Finley used his legs on an important drive spanning the tip of the third quarter and starting of the fourth to attain a 23-yard, game-sealing landing. Finley completed with 47 yards on 10 carries and a landing together with 89 passing yards and one other TD.
“We gave up a QB run to actually give them a bit little bit of respiration room,” Heyward mentioned. “We’re storming again within the third quarter, however I felt like we allow them to off the hook as a protection. We’re attempting to ask our offense to do an excessive amount of.”
Previous to Monday night time‘s sport, the Pittsburgh Steelers opined that the stretch of three games in 12 days contributed to their first two losses of the season. They believed that this week was an opportunity to reclaim their signature physicality and eventually get a much-needed full week of preparation. As a substitute, the offense stumbled once more, and so, too, did the Steelers.
With the loss, the Steelers dropped to the third seed within the AFC playoff race.
“I am a agency believer that issues do not change simply by believing they’ll,” Heyward. “Our work has to mirror that. We’ve to unravel that in observe. No matter it takes. That is not assured. We have to get to work. We have to unravel this and perceive the place we’re falling quick. I do know we have had guys injured, however that is not an excuse. The blokes that may exit and play should get the job finished.”