Last week could have been rock bottom for the black and gold, a three-point loss to a Titans team on Thursday night in a game where they simply couldn’t make a play to put the game away.
Now the team at 2-3 heads to Cincy, where they take on a Bengals team that has lost two in a row, and last week lost to the Browns, a team that hadn’t won a game all season.
It’s two teams that sorely need to win, and with the Ravens piling up wins in the AFC North, a loss by either team this week would be huge.
Pittsburgh comes in a wounded animal, with both top running backs down, and a number of injuries on both the offensive line and the defense as well. Somehow, someway if the Steelers are going to compete, they have to get something out of their backups.
“The panic button, we’re tapping on it,” Steelers linebacker Larry Foote said. “We ain’t got two hands on it, but we’re kind of nibbling on it a little bit. We can’t lose no more, that’s the approach. Five, six losses you ain’t going to be in the playoffs.”
The Steelers have been able to build leads, as over the last three road games they have had leads in the fourth quarter of all three games, only to lose to the Broncos, Raiders and Titans.
The Bengals have lost four straight to Pittsburgh, and two games in a row in 2012 after winning three straight. They gave up 21 fourth-quarter points in a 34-24 defeat in Cleveland.
“It’s not time to jump ship,”‘ offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “‘We’re 3-3 just like everybody else in our conference. At the end of the day, it’s not about wins and losses, it’s about who makes the playoffs. Our goals are all still right there in front of us. Somebody that’s 3-3 has to go win some games and get in the playoffs. Why not us?”
Against the Browns, quarterback Andy Dalton threw for 381 yards and three touchdowns, but was intercepted three times.
“We’ve got to fix it. Obviously we are not playing consistently enough for the ability of the guys that we have,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “We’re almost too nice at times and we’ve got to have more of a killer instinct.”
Against the Steelers last November, Cincinnati rallied for a 17-17 tie in the third quarter but lost, 24-17. In the rematch a month later, Pittsburgh won, 35-7.
Andy Dalton completed 26 of 54 passes against Pittsburgh in those games. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger didn’t surpass 250 yards against the Bengals in 2011, but had three touchdowns and an interception. He is 7-1 lifetime at Cincinnati.
Pittsburgh is hurting in a bad way, and will give up too many points to win this one.
Cincinnati 34 Pittsburgh 26