Week 4 of the NFL season concludes on Monday night as the Cincinnati Bengals travel into Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. The Steelers have never finished below 500 under the guidance of head Coach Mike Tomlin. When you combine the 0-3 start to the season with the fact that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season that streak is in big jeopardy. The Bengals have a new coach after long time head coach Marvin Lewis moved on in the offseason and first year coach Zac Taylor finds himself 0-3 to start the season and having to travel to Pittsburgh to attempt to break the losing streak. Unless there is a tie, one team will get their first win on Monday Night
The Steelers created four turnovers in the first half and recovered a fumble late in the 4th quarter and still managed to find a way to blow a lead. The 49ers scored a touchdown with 1:15 remaining in the fourth quarter for the deciding 24-20 margin. Ben Roethlisberger’s replacement Mason Rudolph completed 14/27 passes for 174 yards and 2 passing touchdowns.
Both touchdowns were long with a 76 yarder to JuJu Smith-Schuster and a 39 yard pass to Diontae Johnson that gave the Steelers a 4th quarter lead. The Steelers have historically done two things very well, run the football and stop the run. Last week the team combined for 22 carries for 79 yards, with feature back James Connor gaining 43 yards on 13 carries. On the other hand San Francisco running backs had 34 carries for 165 yards. Through 3 weeks the Steelers have been performing far below their usual standards.
With a new coach, there is always a sense of optimism. For a team like the Bengals it was a change that was a long time coming. In what will come as a disappointment to most Bengals fan, the team seems to have regressed as opposed to making progress. They had a lead late in the 4th quarter against the Bills but allowed a big 49-yard catch and run and then a touchdown run that sent the team to 0-3. During a stretch between the third and fourth quarter the Bengals scored 17 points on 3 consecutive possessions.
Unfortunately, that was their only scoring of the day. Quarterback Andy Dalton went 20 of 36 for 249 yards with a 1-yard touchdown run, 1-yard touchdown pass to Joe Mixon and two interceptions. Mixon finally found his legs by finishing with 61 yards rushing, more than doubling the 27 yards he managed in his first two games. He also topped the Bengals' two-game total of 59 yards entering the game.
This game is a tough one to call. However, all logic points towards the Steelers. They have the proven coach, the home field advantage, and they have been more productive on offense than Cincinnati. Expect a big game out of Conner as his running style will work well against the defensive line of the Bengals.
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