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Week 6 Game Recap: Pittsburgh Steelers 28, Cincinnati Bengals 21


What you need to know

Pittsburgh Steelers

To start their Week 6 matchup the Steelers found themselves in a very familiar situation, starting slow and allowing their opponent to start fast. Fortunately for the Steelers, the second quarter came, and the offense found their rhythm. Ben started finding his rhythm through his tight ends and the Steelers offensive line started asserting themselves against the lighter defensive line of the Cincinnati Bengals. As the game went on things opened both on the ground and deep down the field for the passing game. Just when it looks like the Steelers were going to overtime, after a late touchdown by Joe Mixon, Antonio Brown comes through and scores a long touchdown.

Cincinnati Bengals

-The offensive line had some issues but Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense mostly played well considering the wet conditions.

-The Bengals only ran the ball 13 times but Joe Mixon was still able to make some impact plays as both a runner and receiver.

-Tyler Boyd caught everything near him and is moving toward a 1B status just behind A.J. Green in terms of pecking order at wide receiver.

-CJ Uzomah had one of his best games, making some clutch grabs against tight coverage and perhaps earning a bigger pass-catching role moving forward.

Pittsburgh Steelers

QB Ben Roethlisberger, 73 offensive snaps, Pass: 32 - 46 - 369 - 1 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0, Rec: 1 - -1 - 0 (1 targets)
It took Roethlisberger almost the entire first quarter to find his rhythm and pass the ball to one of his receivers. In fact, Roethlisberger did not complete a pass to a wide receiver the Steelers third possession and Roethlisberger's ninth pass attempt. Things picked up quickly for Roethlisberger after hitting Antonio Brown for the first time. Ben's best throw of the game went to JuJu Smith-Schuster on what looked like a touchdown but was called down at the one-yard line.

RB James Conner, 66 offensive snaps, Rush: 19 - 111 - 2, Rec: 4 - 18 - 0 (7 targets)
It should be noted Conner's offensive line is great and they are getting used to Conner's running style. The Steelers offensive line is moving more towards a power running approach and Conner has responded well over the last two weeks. Overall, today could have either been an explosion day or Conner or he could have been an okay game. Luckily James Conner was still productive even with opportunities left on the field. Conner's best run of the day came on an outside play to the corner store where he was ruled down at the one-yard line. There will still be a lot of people clambering for Le'Veon Bell and saying Bell would be doing so much better for the Steelers. Bell does not possess the same toolkit James Conner has. Conner has more explosion and more contact fidelity than Bell. This offense would look very different if Le'Veon Bell were inserted back in the lineup.

WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, 50 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 111 - 0 (10 targets)
JuJu is the perfect compliment to Antonio Brown. He can win against man coverage and can do the dirty work. JuJu's best catch of the game came when he was matched up with Darqueze Dennard and JuJu stole the ball from Denard. JuJu was ruled down by his helmet at the one-yard line after seemingly slide in for a touchdown. JuJu had another touchdown grab broken up in the endzone by a Bengals defensive back.

WR Antonio Brown, 63 offensive snaps, Rec: 5 - 105 - 1 (6 targets)
There were still opportunities for more, but Brown provided the Mortal Kombat finishing move to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 6. The play may be viewed, by some, as controversial. The play itself did have a žpickÓ nature to it where Justin Hunter picked the defender in front of him to allow Antonio Brown to get a free release. The play wasn't called a pick because the defender played so close to the line of scrimmage and there wasn't room for the receivers to get into their routes. Beyond the žpickÓ part of the play, Antonio Brown showed amazing athleticism to outrun the coverage and score the game winning touchdown. Brown was also close on another long touchdown catch in the second quarter against Dre Kirkpatrick. Unfortunately, like all day long, Brown was being played extremely physically and was even held on the potential touchdown play.

TE Vance McDonald, 51 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 68 - 0 (8 targets)
The presence of Vance McDonald and all of the tight ends should not be understated. To start Week 6, Roethlisberger did not complete his first pass to a tight end until the Steelers third possession and almost the end of the first quarter. Starting the game McDonald continued his physical domination of the league when he broke a 26-yard run on a crossing route. McDonald was like a bull in a china shop running through two tackles and flipping the Steelers field position on one catch. The following play McDonald was open in the middle of the field for an 11-yard gain where Roethlisberger had almost four seconds to throw the ball.


Cincinnati Bengals

QB Andy Dalton, 61 offensive snaps, Pass: 26 - 42 - 229 - 2 TD / 0 INT
Dalton had a solid game, taking care of the ball in wet conditions and making some plays despite mediocre protection and some drops from his receivers. The drops were especially costly early with bad drops by A.J. Green and Cody Core each causing first-half drives to stall. With John Ross, Tyler Eifert, and Giovani Bernard out, Dalton had to lean extra heavily on A.J. Green and Tyler Boyd. The Dalton-Boyd connection continues to grow and the duo thrived against the Steelers. Dalton hit Boyd for a 2-yard touchdown on an out route, lofting the ball just above the head of the linebacker and into the diving arms of Boyd. Dalton also led a touchdown drive in the two-minute drill before halftime that ended with a 14-yard touchdown to Boyd. It was an easy pitch and catch to the left corner of the end zone as the cornerback was caught flat footed on the out route and there was huge separation. Dalton also hit Boyd for a 39-yard play on a scramble drill that was called back due to a holding penalty. It was probably Daltonís best throw of the day, dropping it in perfectly to Boyd while running to his left. Trailing by six points with just over three minutes left, Dalton led the Bengals on a 75-yard touchdown drive to take the lead. Dalton hit four different receivers on the drive, including A.J. Green on back-to-back plays along the sideline for 23 and 7 yards that set the Bengals up for a short Joe Mixon rushing touchdown. It was the fifth time this season Dalton led a clutch fourth-quarter scoring to give his team the lead. Unfortunately, the drive was too efficient and left enough time for the Steelers to answer.

RB Joe Mixon, 42 offensive snaps, Rush: 11 - 64 - 1, Rec: 4 - 20 - 0 (7 targets)
The Bengals didnít have enough possession to truly get Mixon going and only managed 13 rushing attempts total as a team. However, with somewhat limited touches, Mixonís physicality and explosiveness was on full display. He set the tone for the offense early with cutback runs of 13 and 17 yards, both time lowering his pads and delivering blows at the end of the run. He also made some nice plays as a pass catcher singled up against linebacker Vince Williams. He was able to get separation with quick cuts and showed off his excellent hands. Mixonís 4-yard touchdown went right up the middle and put the Bengals ahead late. He lowered his pads and powered through two defenders near the goal line.

RB Mark Walton, 19 offensive snaps, Rush: 2 - -2 - 0
Walton played 31% of the snaps filling in for Giovani Bernard but did little do impress. He looked hesitant on his two carries and was stacked up for a short loss both times.

WR Tyler Boyd, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 62 - 2 (9 targets)
It was another standout performance for Boyd who had one of the best games of his career. While a couple of the other receivers struggled to catch the ball in the cold, rainy conditions, Boyd grabbed everything thrown near him. He extended for a diving 2-yard touchdown catch on third down. He ran an out route and had plenty of separation but Dalton had to loft it over the linebacker, which meant Boyd had to lay out and grab it with his hands and make sure he got his arms under the ball as he went to the end zone. Boydís second touchdown came just before halftime. He ran a simple out route against the single coverage of Artie Burns. Burns seemed to be caught flat footed by the little inside fake before Boyd broke it out and Boyd had huge separation to make the 14-yard touchdown look easy. Boyd and Dalton hooked up on a pair of big plays on scramble drill plays three weeks ago against Carolina and nearly had another big one against the Steelers. Dalton broke the pocket and sprinted to his left, lofting it high down the left sideline where Boyd grabbed it for a 39-yard gain. The play was called back due to holding, though. Boyd showed off his hands on a couple other plays, going down to snag one just above the turf on one of Daltonís few poor throws and hanging on through contact for a tough 16-yard catch over the middle.

WR A.J. Green, 57 offensive snaps, Rec: 7 - 85 - 0 (12 targets)
It was a rough start for Green who dropped easy passes on each of the first two drives. The first hit him in the chest and would have gone for a gain of nearly 20 yards and caused the Bengals opening drive to stall. The second was on a slant and it again hit him in the hands. It would have gone for almost 10 yards but he did atone for the drop on the very next play with a leaping 19-yard grab down the seam to set the Bengals up inside the ten yard line. Green also helped setup the Bengals second touchdown with a pair of grabs in the two-minute offense before halftime. Green was instrumental on the Bengals third touchdown drive as well. He toe-dragged along the sideline on a 23-yard grab to get the Bengals into the red zone. The very next play he caught an out route on the other sideline for a 7-yard gain to get the Bengals inside the five-yard line. Green overcame the early drops to have a solid game.

TE C.J. Uzomah, 56 offensive snaps, Rec: 6 - 54 - 0 (7 targets)
Rivalry games can highlight which players a quarterback can trust and which he canít. In that sense, it was a breakout performance for Uzomah. The stats and yardage totals donít leap off of the page but Uzomah was able to consistently make tough catches against good coverage. Unlike some past weeks where he did most of his damage on screens or play action that got him wide open, Uzomah made all of his catches on normal routes. He even made a couple grabs lined up split out wide on comeback routes, including a key 10-yard grab on third down to help setup the Bengals first touchdown. Uzomah made another pivotal grab on a 3rd down with under three minutes to play to pick up a first down. With Tyler Eifert out for the season and Tyler Kroft sidelined, Uzomah was on the field for nearly every snap and the clear third option in the passing offense. He should be on the fantasy radar going forward, especially if John Ross and Tyler Kroft miss more time.