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Offense Disappears in Second Half as Steelers Fall to Bengals

All Steelers on FanNation 11/21/2022 Stephen Thompson
© Provided by All Steelers on FanNation

The Pittsburgh Steelers entered halftime with a lead but couldn't create enough offense to beat the Cincinnati Bengals.

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers played one of the best halves of their season and followed it up with an abysmal showing in the second half. Despite entering halftime riding high on a complete effort that put them in the lead, they wilted in the second half. The Cincinnati Bengals outscored them 20-10 over the final 30 minutes and won 37-30 at Acrisure Stadium. 

Both teams opened the game with three-and-outs but the Bengals broke the ice with a 45-yard field goal off the boot of Evan McPherson. 

Kenny Pickett and company began to heat up on their second possession as well. A 22-yard connection with George Pickens and a nine-yard throw to Jaylen Warren put Matt Wright in position to kick a 42-yard field goal and tie the game at three at the 4:41 mark of the first quarter. 

The Bengals started their next drive with a negative play but then Joe Burrow began to throw his unit down the field. He completed all four of his passes for 64 yards and a 24-yard touchdown to Samaje Perine on a screen. Earlier in the drive, 15-yard facemask penalty called on Robert Spillane gave Cincinnatti new life after Perine was stuffed for no game on third and one. 

The Steelers responded with one of the best drives of their season the next time they had the ball. Steven Sims opened the possession with a 37-yard return and big gains on the ground fueled an eight-play, 64-yard drive that ended in a 19-yard, hurdling touchdown from Najee Harris. 

Perine eventually found the endzone again on a short pass from Burrow, who was also sharp during the Bengals' next drive, and put the visitors up 14-0. Burrow accounted for 79 of Cincinnatti's 92 yards on that drive. 

But the Steelers answered right back. Two penalties on the Bengals secondary helped them get within range of the endzone and then Pickett completed the longest touchdown pass of the season for his team - 24 yards - to Pickens for his third touchdown of the year. 

Cincinnatti was driving and in position to steal one more score before halftime, but Levi Wallace stole the ball instead. He picked off Burrow for the second time this year, then Pickett led the offense from their own 44 yard line to the opposite 12 yard line. Wright made his second field goal of the game from 30 yards out and the Steelers went to the locker room up 20-17. 

Both offenses came out of halftime sluggish. The first three drives of the second half ended in punts but on the fourth, the Bengals recaptured some momentum by driving 59 yards for a touchdown. Tee Higgins moved them into the redzone with a 33-yard reception and Burrow tossed his third touchdown pass of the game to Trent Norwin, putting Cincinnatti up 24-20 midway through the third quarter. 

The Steelers couldn't answer, but T.J. Watt intercepted Burrow in spectacular fashion right at the line of scrimmage on the ensuing possession to set up another field goal from Wright, this one kicked from 34 yards out, to bring Pittsburgh within one at 23-24 at the 4:32 mark of the third quarter. 

Trayveon Williams kickstarted the Bengals' next drive with a 42-yard kickoff return and the visitors added another field goal right before the turn to the fourth quarter to make it a four-point advantage once again. 

The fourth quarter was a stalemate, with the Steelers offense dominating and earning good field position for an offense that couldn't stop shooting itself in the foot with penalties and sacks. The Bengals all but iced this game with a nine-play drive that ate up 5:03 and ended in Perine's third touchdown of the day - a five-yard pass from Burrow - to go up 34-23 with 4:35 left in regulation. 

Their defense continued to harras Pickett in the pocket for the remainder of the game and only when they were in late-game prevent coverages were the Steelers able to create some positive movement. Pittsburgh found the endzone one last time with 45 seconds left thanks to an acrobatic, juggling catch from Gunner Olszewski at the goal line. Najee Harris carried the ball for the final yard to make it 30-37. 

The ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Bengals, who could just kneel out the remaining 44 seconds on their sixth win because the Steelers had already burned all their timeouts.  

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