Pittsburgh Steelers Week 15 Takeaways

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The winning streak survived. The Pittsburgh Steelers came back from a 20-6 deficit in Cincinnati to defeat the division rival Bengals 24-20. The win marked five straight for Pittsburgh and kept the Steelers a game ahead of the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC North. The win also helped eliminate Cincinnati from playoff contention, further burying the hated Bengals in their own misery.

Pittsburgh Steelers Week 15 Takeaways

Early on, it did not look good for the Steelers. The offense was struggling, and Cincinnati was moving the ball at will. Bad mistakes and penalties cost the Steelers big in the first half. However, on the road down big against a bitter rival, Pittsburgh somehow found a way. Superb kicking from Chris Boswell helped keep the Steelers within striking distance, despite not seeing the end zone until the fourth quarter. In the second half, the defense stepped up and shut out the Bengals offense that seemed suddenly rejuvenated in the first half.

Finally, the biggest contributor to the win was, of course, the Bengals themselves. We cannot forget the slew of penalties and premature celebrations that led to their ultimate demise once again. As a fan, this game was a tale of two halves. Screaming at the television in the first half turned to laughing out loud at our unfortunate rival’s downfall. It is almost scripted the way the Bengals seem to self-destruct against Pittsburgh. Maybe it is luck, or maybe they should learn to respect the Terrible Towel.

Chris Boswell has Career Day

While the offense had a setback this week, Chris Boswell did not miss a beat. For most of the game, the Steelers offense could not find its way into the end zone. It was not until a 24-yard touchdown pass to Eli Rogers in the fourth quarter that Ben Roethlisberger was able to lead the Steelers to six points. Many of these drives stalled in field goal range, and Boswell was relied on heavily to convert.

Boswell made a franchise record-tying six field goals, accounting for 18 of the Steelers 24 points. Boswell converted from 30, 40, 45, and 49 three times to help the Steelers get points on the board. This type of production is so valuable from the kicker position. Many teams struggle to find a reliable kicker that they can have confidence in. It is easy to say that without Boswell and his reliability, the Steelers would not have come out victorious on Sunday.

Defense Tightens Up In Second Half

Going into halftime, the Bengals had scored 20 points. The CBS broadcast even made a point of acknowledging the Bengals outstanding splits when scoring 21 points or more. The Steelers defense made sure those statistics would not apply to Sunday’s contest by shutting the Bengals offense out in the second half.  Early in the game, Andy Dalton was able to move the ball efficiently to wide receiver Brandon LaFell. LaFell had six receptions in the first half but was held to just one in the second. Similarly, running back Jeremy Hill had issues in the second half.

“Curse of the Terrible Towel” Strikes Cincy Again

After rushing for a four-yard touchdown to give the Bengals a commanding 16-3 lead, Jeremy Hill did something he immediately regretted after the game. Hill found a Steelers fan, took their Terrible Towel, then proceeded to attempt to rip it and chuck it at the ground. Hill found out the hard way that the towel deserves his utmost respect. After the act, Hill had a total of negative one-yard rushing and left the game briefly with an injury.

Karma also came around for linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Burfict, known for his dirty hits (including the one that knocked Antonio Brown out of the playoff game a year ago) was again running full speed with his head down. This time, he ran into all 316 pounds of Steelers offensive lineman David DeCastro. Burfict was removed from the game to undergo the league’s concussion protocol after the play.

Biggest Game of the Year Lies Ahead

The Steelers have little time to reflect on this week before they begin to prepare for what is easily the biggest game of the season. Let me set the stage.

Christmas Day. Black out uniforms. Black out for fans at Heinz Field. Hosting the division rival Baltimore Ravens. The winner wins the AFC North. They don’t get much bigger than this.

It’s Ravens Week.

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