The Pittsburgh Steelers were done. Goodbye. Kaput. No more. They’d won this game, and then, they managed to lose it. When you’re up 15-0 going into the fourth quarter, you’re supposed to be cruising. Especially when, against all odds, you’re doing it on the road, against a team that’s healthier, possibly more talented, and who looks just about ready to bury the ghosts of postseasons past.
Especially, especially when your quarterback is hurt.
But then again, it might not be fair to say Pittsburgh won this game. Sure, they dominated Cincinnati for most of the day, but they weren’t really dominant, which sounds like a contradiction. They weren’t exceptional, the Bengals were just ..not very good. And then they were. And then they threw it all away.
In this end, this victory, Pittsburgh’s victory, was not really about Pittsburgh. It was about Cincinnati. It was about a young, talented team who lacks discipline, and focus. It’s about Adam Jones, a big name guy, costing his team the game with one of the stupidest penalties I’ve seen in my entire life. You don’t punch another team’s coach when your team just got flagged in a way that might lose you the game unless you want to make sure you’re going to lose the game.
He’s not the only one who gets to shoulder the blame here, no. Vontaze Burfict deserves as much of it as Jones, because the hit he put on Antonio Brown is criminal. And that’s before going into the fumble by Hill. Sure, this is an explosive team, an exciting team, a team that can make you feel things, but they’re never going to be a team that wins unless they change more than the players.
Cincinnati needs a fresh start. And, sadly, that doesn’t have anything to do with Dalton, but with Marvin Lewis, who’s a good guy, and a good coach, and probably not the guy who’s going to lead this team to the promised land.
And Pittsburgh? Well, they got a gift of a win today, and that’s good. Sometimes the NFL works to your advantage like that. Let’s give credit where credit is due, they took advantage of Cincinnati’s blunders. Other teams might not have. But they better find a way to get healthy, fast, if they want to have any real shot of beating Denver next week. Denver is probably already salivating at the prospect of facing a banged-up Ben Roethlisberger, at home, and with Peyton Manning back in the saddle.
Game Ball To…
Eh …Ben Roethlisberger, I guess? I mean, if I absolutely have to pick someone, I’ll pick the banged up QB who came back to, eh, win the game. But only because I can’t just give negative game balls to Burfict and Jones. Right?
The AFC playoff picture is now set. Pittsburgh’s win sends Kansas City to New England, to play the Patriots, next Saturday at 4:35 PM ET, and ensures that the Steelers will play the Broncos, next Sunday at 4:40 PM, ET.