NFL Football

17
Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Pittsburgh 0 0 10 7 17
Cincinnati 3 14 0 10 27
27
5:15 PM PT6:15 PM MT7:15 PM CT8:15 PM ET1:15 GMT9:15 6:15 PM MST8:15 PM EST7:15 PM CT5:15 UAE (+1)20:15 ET23:15 , December 21, 2020
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio  Weather: 43°, Cloudy  Attendance: 10,249

Steelers-Bengals Preview

According to STATS
According to STATS

Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

  1. Pittsburgh has won 10 in a row against Cincinnati, dating back to Week 14, 2015. That includes a 36-10 win in Week 10 of this season, the largest margin by either side since a 35-7 Pittsburgh win in Week 13, 2011. The 10-game streak is the longest by either side in this rivalry all-time.
  2. The Steelers lost to the Bills, 26-15, in Buffalo on Sunday night, and have now lost back-to-back games following an 11-0 start. Pittsburgh was just 1-for-10 on third downs on Sunday, its fewest conversions since going 1-for-9 in Week 12, 2012 against Cleveland.
  3. The Bengals fell to Dallas, 30-7, at home on Sunday, extending their losing streak to five games. They've failed to reach 20 points in all five of those games, just their second such streak since 2002 (had a six-game streak last season).
  4. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 187 yards and was picked off twice against Buffalo. It was just the 11th time in his career he's thrown for fewer than 200 yards and multiple interceptions; he's now 4-7 in those games.
  5. A.J. Green led the Bengals with 62 receiving yards and caught the team's only touchdown, just his second of the season. Green has only finished below six touchdowns in a season once before, when he was limited to 10 games in 2016 and had four TD catches.
  6. Neither team has been particularly strong on their opening possessions this season -- each has scored just 13 total points, tied for 28th in the league. Pittsburgh has allowed opponents to score just six points on their opening drives, fewest in the league (Cincinnati is tied for fifth with 20).
Team Comparison

Pittsburgh
 
Cincinnati
26.8 Points 18.8
253.9 Pass Yds 252.7
89.1 Rush Yds 92.3
25 Takeaways 12
(AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) After the Pittsburgh Steelers lost two in a row and looked bad doing it, their Monday night matchup with the last-place Cincinnati Bengals is suddenly more important than it looked on the schedule just a few weeks ago.

By virtue of rolling through the first 11 games of the season without a loss, Pittsburgh (11-2) already has clinched its first playoff berth since 2017. But a win over the Bengals (2-10-1) - or a loss by Cleveland on Sunday - would assure the Steelers of an AFC North title and at least one home playoff game at Heinz Field.

The Browns are two games back in the division and the Baltimore Ravens are three back with three games to play. Buffalo (10-3), which beat Pittsburgh last week, is challenging the Steelers for the No. 2 seed in the AFC.

With a game against the Colts (9-4) and a season-ender with the Browns (9-4) ahead, the suddenly struggling Steelers need to take advantage of the toothless Bengals.

"There's a lot on the table for us," Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. "We are excited about prime-time football. We essentially laid an egg last week on prime-time football, so we are excited about getting another opportunity at that."

Pittsburgh's offensive and defensive lines were pushed around at times by the Bills in the 26-15 loss last week. Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdowns but also had two interceptions, one of them a tide-turning pick-6 late in the first half.

The Bengals are playing out another disappointing season. They fumbled the ball away on each of their first three possessions against the Dallas Cowboys last week to fall into a 17-0 first-half hole on the way to a 30-7 loss.

Cincinnati has lost five straight. Three of them have come since rookie quarterback Joe Burrow was hurt on Nov. 22, the most high profile of a multitude of injuries that hampered the team.

Quarterback Brandon Allen, who has started the past three games, suffered a knee injury against the Cowboys. He didn't practice Thursday, and is day to day. If he can't go, Ryan Finley will get the start.

CHARACTER MATTERS

Safety Jessie Bates, one of the leaders of the Bengals defense, said the last three games of a lost season will be a chance to see the character of some of his teammates.

"Good opportunities to see who belongs here on this team and who doesn't. We're still playing. People still have to play well to stay around. It's three great opportunities," he said. "In these hard times, you really figure out who you can count on."

JUJU ON THAT LOGO

Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster drew Buffalo's ire when he filmed himself dancing on the Bills' midfield logo last week. It's a pregame ritual Smith-Schuster started earlier this year, calling it a way for him to connect with his 2.6 million followers on the social media app TikTok.

Even though Buffalo didn't care for it, Smith-Schuster says he's not going to change.

"I plan to keep on doing (the dances)," Smith-Schuster said. "I'm just having fun, being myself."

Bengals safety Vonn Bell doesn't care for the display.

"He's still young-minded," Bell said of the 24-year-old receiver. "But, you know, he loves the game, he loves going out there and playing. But it's kind of disrespectful at the end of the day."

RUNNING ON EMPTY

The Steelers began the season with the kind of run-pass balance most teams envy. Not so much anymore.

Pittsburgh has topped 50 yards rushing just twice over its past seven games, allowing defenses to put more focus on shutting down the Steelers' short passing game.

It doesn't seem to matter who is back there for the Steelers, whether it's James Conner, Benny Snell, rookie Anthony McFarland Jr. or even Jaylen Samuels, who saw nearly as many touches against the Bills (seven) as he had on the season combined (nine).

BULLOCK KICKED OUT

After usually dependable kicker Randy Bullock missed his last three of five field-goal attempts and a PAT, the Bengals decided it was time for a change.

Bullock was a healthy scratch last week against Dallas, with Austin Seibert - claimed off waivers from the Browns in September - moving into the No. 1 spot. Seibert converted his only extra-point attempt and didn't played get a field-goal try last week, so coach Zac Taylor is planning to go with him again against the Steelers.

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AP Sports Writer Will Graves contributed.

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Follow Mitch Stacy at http://twitter.com/mitchstacy

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Updated December 17, 2020

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