After squeaking out a 13-9 win against the pitiful Kansas City Chiefs last week, the Steelers vowed to make corrections over the course of the week.
Regardless of how hard it was to win in Cincinnati three weeks ago, the Steelers dominated the Bengals in all three phases, yesterday. The Steelers got out to a 21-0 lead and never looked back, stomping the Bengals 35-7 en route to ensuring their fifth straight winning season and, most likely, second straight trip to the playoffs.
Rashard Mendenhall scored two touchdowns inside the five yard line and a Bengals fumble on the ensuing kickoff led to a Mike Wallace 12 yard strike from Ben Roethlisberger. In five minutes, the Steelers had put up 21 points and a young Bengals team could not recover. An 11 yard touchdown pass from Andy Dalton to AJ Green cut the lead to 21-7, but an Antonio Brown punt return late in the first half ensured that the Bengals would not have a chance to come back against their division rivals.
In the second half, the Steelers flexed their muscles on defense. James Harrison had three sacks while Ike Taylor picked off Pittsburgh native, Bruce Gradkowski. Rookie quarterback, Andy Dalton, was held to 135 yards passing while the Bengals never had a chance to establish Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott on the ground.
Now, sitting at 9-3, the Steelers are still in the mix to win the division if the Ravens lose one more game than Pittsburgh by the end of the season. With a Thursday night matchup against the hopeless Browns, Pittsburgh has a chance to reach double-digit wins for the eighth time in the last eleven seasons.
As Mike Tomlin always says, "the standard is the standard." Well, right now, the standard isn't just a playoff berth, it's a sixth AFC North division title and first round bye.
Coach Mike Tomlin has now clinched a winning record in each of his first five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ben Roethlisberger's nine yard completion to David Johnson gave him the most completions in franchise history (2,026), passing Terry Bradshaw.
Despite missing a month due to injury, James Harrison has eight sacks on the season.
Antonio Brown's 60 yard punt return was the first punt return for a touchdown since Santonio Holmes ran one back against Carolina in 2006.
Lamarr Woodley left the game in the first quarter after aggravating his hamstring. With a short week ahead, it seems very doubtful he will play against the Browns on Thursday.