8 Steelers surprises in Sunday’s loss to the Bengals

Each week our SCU staff and contributors picks the “surprises” from the Pittsburgh Steelers latest matchup. Check out more below to see which plays and situations surprised us the most!

On Sunday, the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Cincinnati Bengals for their Week 11 matchup at Acrisure Stadium.

The Steelers would fall by a final score of 37-30. Here are some of the surprises from that game.

Embed from Getty Images

First Half Offense

The Steelers put up 212 yards of offense in the first half of the game. They gained 11 first downs and scored 20 points – where they had only scored more than 20 in an entire game all season.

It looked as though they were well on their way to eclipsing their previous week’s season-high of 379 yards of total offense as well, but…

Embed from Getty Images

Second Half Offense

The second half offense surprised us by reverting back into a pumpkin at midnight.

Pittsburgh would only gain six first downs and gain 139 yards of offense, 72 of those yards on the final “garbage time” drive of the game. They had gone from scoring on four of their five first half drives to punting on five of their eight second half drives, including a turnover on downs.

Sadly, the Steelers actually ran more plays in the second half as well, with 35 plays to 33, but were unable to maintain the momentum.

Embed from Getty Images

Second Half Defense

The Steelers gave up a total of 408 yards to the Bengals, allowing 22 first downs: 18 of those off of Burrow’s arm.

They would get scorched by the Bengals QB for 355 yards and four touchdowns, three of them coming from a backup running back!

The Steelers D allowed an eight-play, 93-yard drive which proved to be the major difference maker in the latter portion of the fourth quarter, and appeared to be out of answers for the Bengals offense, as they only sacked Burrow twice on the entire evening.

T.J. Watt

Watt getting only one sack and one QB pressure was surprising, but his leaping interception play at the line of scrimmage is a sight to behold!

Embed from Getty Images

Matthew Wright

One week from showing up in this column as a negative surprise in the Steelers win over the Saints, Wright came out looking like a confident pro, converting all three of his field goal attempts (42, 30, 34 yards) and three extra point attempts.

With Boswell still on IR, Wright will have an opportunity to kick in a dome for the next two weeks, which should only help him improve his game – and that also aids the Steelers.

Embed from Getty Images

Najee Harris

One week after posting 99 yards rushing, Harris bounced right back with 90 yards on the ground against the Bengals, with two rushing touchdowns.

After rushing for only 361 yards (3.3 YPA) and one touchdown in his first eight games, Harris now has 189 rushing yards in two, with a 4.7 average, plus the pair of TDs.

He’s coming on strong when the Steelers really need to lean on the run game in cold weather, and we can only hope this is the beginning of a consistent run of big games for the former first round pick. His current pace should see him eclipse 1,000 yards on the ground this season, and potentially score double-digit touchdowns as well (albeit from scrimmage, not only rushing).

Embed from Getty Images

Kenny Pickett

Fans are fairly brutal at times, and there’s no real need to be with the progress of the Steelers rookie quarterback, who posted his best half of football – and perhaps his best game to date as well.

In the first half Pickett completed 14/19 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, good for a 112.0 rating. His counterpart Joe Burrow was 14/20 for 194 and two touchdowns for a 113.3 rating.

Pickett would finish the game 25/42 for 265 yards and an 85.9 rating, including some passes that were clear drops (George Pickens!) He appears to be comfortable and further ahead of the curve than some rookie passers tend to be

As the Steelers continue to iron out the issues with their offense as a whole this can only be seen as a positive.

Embed from Getty Images

George Pickens

Okay, I dumped on George above because of a dropped, would-be walk-in touchdown with around 1:50 remaining in the game. However, this was the coming out party for the Steelers second round draft pick, who caught four passes and led the team with 83 receiving yards, and a touchdown.

Pickens looked like a “WR1” in every aspect of this game, and also continues to grow with Pickett.

It’s cliche, but this could be the turning point in what many have been calling the Pickett-to-Pickens connection for years to come!

Suggested articles from our sponsors