Andy Dalton and Ben Roethlisberger combined for five interceptions and two touchdowns, Reggie Nelson had five tackles and two picks, and the Bengals squeaked out their seventh-straight win to start the year. That was the last time Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh at NFL football.
It was November 1, 2015, at Heinz Field, Roethlisberger was returning from a sprained knee, and the Steelers were wearing their awful, bumble-bee looking uniforms. The Bengals were 6-0 and trying to prove how legitimate a contender they were while the Steelers were reeling at 4-3 and trying to climb back into the division race. Sound familiar?
Right out of the gate, the Bengals put themselves behind the eight ball. Roethlisberger, much to the joy of the towel-waving crowd, led the Steelers on a 12 play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown. Pittsburgh converted two third-and-shorts, including 3rd and goal on the one which was a TD pass to Antonio Brown. Dre Kirkpatrick was targeted a lot, throughout the game, and was a big reason why the Bengals relinquished an opening-drive touchdown. Dre committed a 22-yard pass interference penalty when the Steelers were staring down a 2nd down and 15 yards to go on their own side of the 50.
Cincinnati was able to answer with a pair of field goals by Mike Nugent, before the first quarter ended, to cut the Pittsburgh lead to one. Both teams then traded punts until halftime. Of note, with about nine minutes left before halftime, Vontaze Burfict tackled Le’Veon Bell, dragging him down from behind, injuring bell on the play. Bell’s right leg landed awkwardly and then bent underneath him, forcing him to be carted off the field, and rendering him unable to finish the game.
The Bengals got the ball out of the half and promptly punted to the Steelers. The defense then gets its first of three picks on Roethlisberger as he tried to hit Brown, deep, but Nelson jumped in front of it and gave the Bengals possession on the Steelers’ 33-yard line. Keeping with the theme of procrastinating, the Bengals managed to lose enough yards on offense that they had to punt, after starting in field goal range. Pittsburgh then added a field goal to make it 10-7. The Bengals then answered by marching 49 yards in seven plays to have a Nugent field goal attempt blocked.
Momentum was squarely in Pittsburgh’s lap and the towel-waving throng wer having a field day. The offense did nothing for the Bengals in the next two drives. Both ended in Dalton interceptions. Despite this, the defense held up its end of the bargain. They forced a punt off one interception and then answered Andy’s second mistake by picking off Roethlisberger, giving the offense the ball with five minutes left, down four. Shawn Williams provided a highlight reel interception as he stepped around the receiver to dive in front, keeping his feet in-bounds, and making the pick.
Hue Jackson then raised the anxiety of Bengals fans by handing the ball to Jeremy Hill, twice, netting five yards. A hungry Steelers defense sent the house on 3rd and five, but Dalton hit Giovanni Bernard over the middle and Twenty-Five ran it for 17 yards. New life. A couple of incomplete passes and a short dump to Jeremy Hill got the ball to the Pittsburgh 9-yard line, and 3rd down, setting up a classic combo for the comeback. Andy hits AJ for a nine-yard, go-ahead score.
So, okay, three-point lead for Cincy, BUT, Roethlisberger has 2:57 to work with. I was watching this particular game from my job, at that time, where we had this concession area and a television. There was a crowd of people huddled around the tube, ready to see what would happen. Bengals fans and Steelers fans, alike. Roethlisberger dropped back on first down, going for the jugular, throws it deep to his man Brown, BUT IT’S PICKED! Nelson seals the deal with a steal of an errant Roethlisberger ball. The crowd of orange and black around the TV, whether customer or employee, was jumping up and down, celebrating a franchise-record seventh win in a row. Whether hobbled by injury, or whatever you want to say, the Bengals defense forced the turnovers when it needed to from Roethlisberger. Cincy added a field goal to get us our final score of 16-10.
Here’s to hoping the Bengals will get their first win against the Steelers since this game.
P.S. – I had a few cool highlight videos to post, but NFL.com does not let their videos get posted to other sites. Suffice it to say, go check out the highlights on youtube by searching “Bengals Steelers week 8 2015.”
Not Another Bengals, Chiefs Preview
Week seven of the NFL regular season is upon us and the Cincinnati Bengals have a golden opportunity this Sunday on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. Guessing that’s not where your mind went when you thought of this game?
The Bengals and Chiefs have squared off 28 times, over the years, with the Bengals holding a slight 15-13 advantage. Cincinnati holds a four-game winning streak over Kansas City with the last loss coming at Arrowhead in 2007. Marvin Lewis is 6-2 against the Chiefs and 2-2 at Arrowhead. The Lewis-led Bengals have outscored the Chiefs 167 to 136, in their eight meetings.
The last game between these two teams was in week four of the 2015 season. The Bengals won in Paul Brown Stadium 36-21 with four of the touchdowns coming from running plays. Three TDs were scored by Jeremy Hill and the other came from Giovanni Bernard. The lone TD pass was a 55-yarder to Brandon Tate from Andy Dalton.
This is a marvelous chance for Andy and the offense to get back on track. They managed just nine total yards in the third quarter against the Steelers, but will be facing a very pedestrian defensive squad, this coming Sunday night. In two games career games against the Chiefs, Dalton has completed 66% of his passes for 551 yards and three scores. He will face a Chiefs defense that ranks stone cold last in pass defense, allowing 340 yards per game, through the air.
Joe Mixon will be happy, though, as the Chiefs also allow an average of 127 rushing yards, per game. In fact, the Bengals offense, as a whole, should feast on Sunday. They’re averaging 29 points per game and the Chiefs allow 28.7 per game.
They’re banged up, and they’re outgunned in this matchup. Statistically, Cincinnati’s defense has fared only slightly better than Kansas City’s. The Bengals are allowing just over 400 total yards, a game, and 26 points per game. Couple that with the high-flying offense of Patrick Mahomes, who averages 418 total yards and 35 points per game, and I’d say you should bet the over, whatever Vegas has it set as.
Nick Vigil and Darqueze Dennard have been ruled out and Shawn Williams is listed as questionable. Given that eight different defensive starters came off the field last Sunday, at different points in the game, and this coming game may be crazy, simply from a health standpoint.
This matchup has a real chance at being a playoff preview as well as a carbon copy of the Falcons game, a few weeks back. The Chiefs will be in a battle with the Chargers, all season, for the AFC West and the Bengals, though on top for the moment, have no room for comfort with the Ravens and Steelers knocking on the door. Whoever has the ball last in this pivotal game could very well end up the winner.
I’d expect to see a lot of William Jackson and Tyreek Hill matchups. Some have said Hill is the best receiver, in the game, this year so Jackson will need to be on his toes for all 60 minutes. Meanwhile, Kansas City receiving threat 1-B, Travis Kelce, will probably be Teryl Austin’s biggest headache. The Bengals, no matter the personnel or the coaching staff, have always struggled to cover the opposing tight end. Enter, arguably, the best tight end in the NFL with his 468 receiving yards and three TDs. I’m no expert fantasy football predictor, but I’d bet he is a top scorer, this week. And I haven’t even mentioned the Chiefs’ stud running back, Kareem Hunt. Dude is a threat to run all over the place (456 yds, 4th in NFL) and be a pain to the Bengals pass defense (17 yards per catch). Pray for Austin and the Bengals defense.
Bringing it Home
That being said, this is a winnable game for the Bengals. They have the firepower to hang with Kansas City. If you jumped off the wagon after the loss to the Steelers and think the Bengals are going to get absolutely crushed by the Chiefs, you won’t agree with me, so whatevs, but this game isn’t that big of a mismatch. John Ross will be on the field for Cincinnati, giving them their bonafide deep threat to contend with the Chiefs’ big play abilities. AJ Green has nobody to worry about on the Chiefs defense, and will be able to roam free, looking for holes in the coverage. Which just means Tyler Boyd will be able to give as much of his safety blanket-ness to Andy as he can. Should the line have a rough day protecting the pocket, Dalton will have plenty of chances to scramble and make something happen while extending the play. One of these two teams will begin the game hot only to try to slow it down with the rushing game, but I believe both defenses will be porous enough to allow some highlight reel plays deep. This is going to be an entertaining game to watch, if your pacemaker doesn’t give out in the first half. Call me crazy, call me a homer (whatevs, I’m no professional), but I say the Bengals win.
Prediction: Bengals 42, Chiefs 38
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WATCH: Houshmandzadeh says the Bengals are going to beat the Chiefs
Former Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh says the Bengals are going to beat the Chiefs on Sunday night football. He also thinks Andy Dalton’s struggles in primetime games are just a ‘coincidence.’ He was a guest on ‘The Herd’ on Fox Sports One. Watch the video below.
‘Vontaze can be as great as he wants to be’
Vontaze Burfict has been talked about a lot this week. Not for his dominant play, but for a questionable hit on Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 14, 2018
This isn’t new for Burfict. His play has been discussed for years. He’s been fined or suspended 11 times in his career, which has cost him over $1 million in salary.
Some people believe Burfict should be suspended for the rest of the season. Others think he should be out of the NFL forever. There’s no denying that he’s earned his reputation.
Burfict doesn’t like how he’s viewed in the media. If he wants to change it, he can start by playing like an elite linebacker against Kansas City. He doesn’t look like the player he once was. It’s probably because he’s missed so much time over the past few years. Burfict has appeared in 11 games or fewer in his last four seasons due to suspensions and injuries. He hasn’t forced a turnover since 2016, which is the last time he was playing at an elite level.
That leads me to a question that has been asked a lot this week: Is Burfict worth the headache? His teammates certainly think so.
“Vontaze can be as great as he wants to be,” Carlos Dunlap said earlier this week. “And as you’ve seen up to this level he’s played as one of the best linebackers in the league. And I feel like he has the potential to be even better.”
Sunday is an opportunity for Burfict to put on a show. It’s a chance for him to remind people that he is one of the best linebackers in the league. If he goes out there, dominates and does it without any questionable hits, then the entire country will see why the Bengals signed him to two contract extensions. Leading a struggling defense into Kansas City and getting a win would be huge for how people view him. Fans and media could discuss his stellar play, instead of a late-hit or a PED suspension.
He needs to remind people, including fans, that he can be a great player. Burfict just turned 28-years-old. He signed a contract extension with the Bengals last season. There has been plenty of chatter about Burfict this week, but that isn’t bothering rookie safety Jessie Bates.
“He’s so smart and he makes things easier for me communication wise,” Bates said on Wednesday. “Obviously he’s been doing this for a long time. He plays very violent and some people don’t like that. I’m glad that he’s on our team.”
It’s hard to envision Burfict changing at this point, but he can use Sunday to his advantage. He can show a national television audience that he’s able to play the game at a high level and do so without getting fined, flagged or suspended for questionable play.
Once upon a time Burfict was an undrafted free agent who impressed coaches with his knowledge of the game. Fast forward to present day and he’s a ‘dirty player’ who should be suspended or worse. Burfict has a chance to remind everyone of how good he can be. Whether or not he takes advantage of it is up to him.
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