PITTSBURGH- The Pittsburgh Steelers returned home to Heinz Field on Sunday for a week 10 divisional matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. Mike Tomlin and company were looking to stay unbeaten and remain one game ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs in the battle for overall number 1 seed in the AFC.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger shook off some early rust to complete 27 of 46 passes for 333 yards and 4 touchdowns. The 38-year old future Hall of Famer spread the ball out quite a bit throughout the day, completing multiple passes to seven different receivers.
Pittsburgh drew first blood early in the first quarter on a 41-yard Chris Boswell field goal. The scoring play was set up when Bengals’ return man Alex Erickson coughed up a punt return at the Cincinnati 33-yard line. Boswell added a chip shot later in the quarter to make the score 6-0. Boswell has never missed a FG attempt against Cincinnati.
Big Ben started to heat up near the end of the first quarter. He hit Diontae Johnson on a deep route along the left sideline which set up Johnson again on an 11-yard scoring strike. After the two point conversion failed, the Steelers got another opportunity when Bengals turned the ball over a second time. The Cincinnati defense held strong and Pittsburgh was forced to punt.
The Bengals threatened to make a game of it on their next drive when they marched 90 yards for the TD. Quarterback Joe Burrow hit rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins on a crucial 4th and goal from the Pittsburgh 2-yard line. The Steelers’ offense responded immediately with a lengthy drive that culminated in an 8-yard TD pass from Roethlisberger to JuJu Smith-Schuster. After a 45-yard Boswell FG made the score 22-7, the Bengals were once again on the move inside Steelers’ territory. A clutch sack by T.J. Watt knocked Cincinnati out of FG range to end first half.
The Steelers added to their lead when Chase Claypool hauled in a frozen rope from Big Ben at the 4:22 mark of the third quarter. A 42-yard punt return by Ray Ray McCloud set Pittsburgh up at the Bengals’ 15-yard line with a chance to put the game away. Claypool was again the recipient of the Roethlisberger TD strike which brought the score to 36-7.
With the 36-10 victory, Pittsburgh improves to 9-0 and are the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL. Next week, the Steelers travel to Jacksonville to take on the Jaguars before returning home on Thanksgiving night to face the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC North showdown.