The Pittsburgh Steelers lost their third straight game, this one against the Cincinnati Bengals, 27-17. With this defeat, Mike Tomlin’s guys slipped further on the AFC conference standings, with the Buffalo Bills Jumping over them.
But that is not the main problem for the franchise from Heinz Field as they face a massive crisis with the playoffs knocking on the door. They were massive favorites against the sorry Bengals, who had two wins up to this point, and came into this contest as -14.5-point underdogs.
Steelers’ first-half performance was one of the worst in their franchise history, with them making three turnovers, having just seven passing yards, all that to reach only two first downs. All three lost possessions led to the Bengals’ points, and it was no wonder the home team left for a break with a 17-0 lead.
It seems that the biggest problem in Pittsburgh’s game is Ben Roethlisberger, who himself lost the football twice in the first half. He ended the night with 170 passing yards, one TD pass, one pick, and one fumble lost. As said before, the two-time champion showed signs of slowing down, which presents a massive problem for his team.
“I’m not consistent enough, which affects the offense because the ball is in my hand every play,” Roethlisberger said.
Diontae Johnson had one TD reception and 59 receiving yards. Chase Claypool caught only three passes while being targeted 8 times, for 54 yards.
JuJu Smith-Schuster ended up being a highlight reel following Vonn Bell’s massive hit on the Steelers’ wide receiver. He had just 15 yards on three receptions.
"You've got to go out there between the lines, go out there and hit him." – Vonn Bell when asked earlier about JuJu dancing on the logo
JuJu just got rocked by Bell on the field 😳
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 22, 2020
On the other side, Ryan Finley threw just 89 yards, for one TD toss, that going to Giovani Bernard. However, he ran for 10 times, adding 47 yards on the ground and one touchdown. Bernard also scored a running TD, and had a team-high 83 rushing yards on 25 reps.
The Steelers started the year with 11-0, but dropped to 11-3. They meet the Indianapolis Colts in the next round, at Heinz Field. The team from Lucas Oil Stadium is one win behind Pittsburgh, and losing against them could have devastating consequences. After this match, Mike Tomlin’s crew closes the regular part of the campaign against the Browns on the road. If Steelers lose against the Colts, Cleveland will have a chance to jump over them in the AFC standings.
The 3-10-1 Bengals travel to Houston to face the Texans before hosting the Baltimore Ravens in the last game of the year for them.