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Breakfast with Benz

Tim Benz: Airing of grievances from Steelers' last-minute win over Bengals

| Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, 6:18 a.m.
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, right, breaks up a pass to Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, left, in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, right, breaks up a pass to Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, left, in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)

Win or lose, we air our grievances after every Pittsburgh Steelers game. But it always feels better to vent knowing that the Paul Brown Stadium "escaloser" was in full effect.

What do you think? Do Bengals fans wearing Vontaze Burfict jerseys elbow each other in the head on the way out of the stadium?

We'll get to that in a second.

Despite the Steelers' 28-21 win over the Bengals, there is plenty to gripe about. After all, if Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown don't do this at the end of the game to win it ...

... then the Steelers would've had to rely on the 2018 version of Chris Boswell to kick the game-winning field goal. That's been shaky all year. And if that happened, this list of grievances would've been a lot longer and would've had a lot more teeth to it.

Think about it. The Steelers are now within a half-game of first place in the AFC North. Had they lost that game, they would've been 2-3-1 overall and 0-2-1 in the division. So that was a massive swing.

There's still plenty to get off our chests, though. Let's get to it.


Burfict back at it

No. Vontaze Burfict didn't get a personal foul penalty in this game. That's a headline all by itself.

But he should have. Check out this elbow to the head of Antonio Brown.

Brown had to leave the field briefly. Based on his big touchdown later, he appears to be OK. Burfict ended up giving more of a blow to the head of his own teammate, rookie safety Jessie Bates.

As Brown shouted last year, "Karma! Karma!"

After the game, Burfict refused to talk to reporters.

If he and Capitals forward Tom Wilson were locked in a room together, who would elbow the other guy in the head more often?


Drops

Wow, there were a lot of them. JuJu Smith-Schuster had two in the first half. A case could be made that he should've secured another deep shot from Roethlisberger in the second half. But Dre Kirkpatrick broke it up.

Then, there was Joe Haden. He dropped two interceptions. One of which resulted in a Bengals drive that stayed alive and resulted in a touchdown.

Vance McDonald also dropped a ball he was carrying for a potential first down. It popped out of his hands. Luckily for the Steelers, Smith-Schuster was there to pounce on it. Leave it to a new father to rescue his baby.

Cody Core and A.J. Green combined for three drops on the Cincinnati side. If we want to judge harshly — and we do — we could say Burfict dropped a potential interception, too.


The pass rush

Andy Dalton was sacked three times in 42 pass attempts. That's not bad, especially when you consider Ben Roethlisberger wasn't sacked at all in 46 pass attempts. But the Bengals quarterback was hit just one other time, and he was only touched twice in the second half.

Part of the issue was the blitzes from the defensive backs. They came incredibly late and from a tremendous distance. I noticed that happening at least once with Mike Hilton, who is usually fantastic at his timing and blitz anticipation. But he also normally lines up much closer to the line of scrimmage.

Yesterday, it felt as if he was blitzing from across the river in Kentucky.


The other defensive backs

At least Haden was in a position to make a few plays, even if he dropped them.

It was a struggle for Cameron Sutton and Artie Burns.

Sutton had a tough matchup most of the day against C.J. Uzomah. The Bengals tight end has 7 inches and 77 pounds on Sutton. The second-year DB made one nice pass breakup against Uzomah. However, Uzomah caught his other six targets from Dalton. Some of which occurred with Sutton attempting to defend.

As for Burns, he took a significant pass-interference penalty on Cincinnati's go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter. He also was beaten on a few occasions by Pitt and Clairton product Tyler Boyd, once for a touchdown. Plus, he committed a special teams penalty.


Steelers defense late in each half

It was dreadful.

With one minute, 47 seconds left in the second quarter, the Steelers allowed a 47-yard kick return after a touchdown. The Bengals went the remaining 44 yards in 48 seconds on just five plays for a touchdown response of their own before halftime.

Cincinnati took a 21-20 lead on a late fourth-quarter drive. That took a meager 2:14 to go 77 yards.

So when the Steelers got the lead back at 28-21 with 10 seconds left, I posted this question on Twitter.

It appears some of you wanted to air the same grievance.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at tbenz@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TimBenzPGH. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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