Monday, December 16, 2013
A by-the-numbers look at the Bengals' loss
By Coley Harvey
PITTSBURGH -- After going up 21-0 through a quarter Sunday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers were able to cruise to a 30-20 win that somehow kept their slim playoff hopes alive and dimmed any chances the Cincinnati Bengals would have a first-round bye when they reach the postseason.
A fumbled punt snap, a misinterpreted wave and a blindside hit that resulted in a broken jaw, were among the difference-making moments that led to the Steelers' early three-score lead. If only Kevin Huber had been able to better handle Clark Harris' wide snap. If only Cedric Peerman had simply shouted loud enough for Brandon Tate to have heard him and not had officials thinking he was waving for a fair catch. If only Huber wasn't decked on a scary-looking block that will most certainly be reviewed by the league.
If each of those events had gone any differently, the ballgame might have progressed a much different way for the Bengals.
Instead they resulted in: Le'Veon Bell's 1-yard touchdown run a play after Huber's botched snap. Antonio Brown's 12-yard touchdown reception on the drive after Peerman's wave resulted in strong field position for the Steelers. And Brown's 67-yard punt return for touchdown that included the vicious block on Huber.
As important as those numbers were in the Bengals' loss, here were a few more:
3: The Bengals' current AFC playoff seeding. They would be in the No. 2 seed today had they won.
3: Field goals the Bengals' defense held the Steelers to after that first-quarter special teams disaster put Cincinnati down 21-0 early.
9: Receptions for Green. He had 93 yards receiving, 10.3 yards per catch.
44: Passes Dalton attempted. Thanks to being down early, the Bengals weren't able to get the run-game balance they enjoyed the past two weeks.
22: Number of combined Bengals carries. Dalton had four, and Huber had one for no gain.
37: Combined rushing yards for running backs Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Bernard rushed 13 times for 33 yards, and Green-Ellis ran four times for four yards. In the two previous games, they paced a rushing attack that gained more than 150 yards.
4: Average net yards on Huber's two punts. Brown's 67-yard return for touchdown caused the net average to plummet.
40: Average net yards on Mike Nugent's two punts. After Huber's injury, Nugent came in to punt for him. It was the first time since high school Nugent had punted.
32.8: Average yards per return for Bengals kick returner Brandon Tate. His longest was 52 yards.
2.9: Yards per carry for Pittsburgh's ballcarriers. Bell averaged 2.4 on his 24 carries.
6: Pittsburgh has won six of the past eight meetings between the teams.
14: Roethlisberger's career win total in games against the Bengals. That's the most all-time by any starting quarterback against Cincinnati.
2: Number of wins for the Bengals in their past 12 divisional road games.
74: Dalton's career passing touchdown numbers, good enough for a tie with Jeff Garcia for third-most through three seasons in NFL history.
77.0: Percentage of Roethlisberger dropbacks in which the Bengals sent four or fewer pass-rushers. Roethlisberger completed 85 percent of his passes in those situations. That's his highest completion percentage against such pressure in a game the past two seasons. He was 17-for-20 with such pressure.
50.0: Percentage of passes Dalton completed against four or fewer rushers. That tied for his lowest in a game in the past two seasons. He was 14-for-28 with such pressure.