By: Jacob Walsh
Sept. 14, 2022: CINCINNATI– The Pittsburgh Steelers met the Cincinnati Bengals on the bank of the Ohio River for their week one match-up. This game brought two storylines heading into this 2022 season kickoff; The Bengals just coming off of their third Super Bowl appearance in franchise history looked to defend their AFC North crown. While the Steelers hoped to upset the Bengals with a man under center not named Ben Roethlisberger (the former 18-year Steelers veteran retired this past season). This is the first time the two AFC North opponents have met in a season opener.
It took two things for the Steelers to walk away victorious against Cincinnati on Sunday: the stellar performance by their defense and the luck of some bad kicking.
The Steelers’ defense rose to the challenge against the reigning AFC champions by attacking quarterback Joe Burrow all game long. Burrow threw a career-worst four interceptions to the Steelers’ defense with notable plays by Minkah Fitzpatrick, who took the interception back for a score, and T.J. Watt. The Steelers also recorded seven sacks on Burrow.
While the Steelers’ defense shined, the offense was lackluster. Only scoring one offensive touchdown, a Trubisky pass to Najee Harris. Kicker Chris Boswell helped his team by making two field goals during regulation. Mitch Trubisky went 21 for 38 on pass attempts with 194 yards, 1 touchdown, and zero turnovers.
A different Cincinnati offense came to play in the second half while facing 17-6 deficient. The Bengals added eight points in the third quarter and six in the fourth. That six points came from a last-minute drive that ended in a touchdown, which at the time would seal the come-from-behind victory.
If a week one, division rivalry match-up that also happened to be the first game for a team’s new quarterback in 18 years and included an exciting defensive performance with a late game rally was not enough already… this is where insanity ensues.
With a backup long snapper snapping for Cincinnati, Minkah Fitzpatrick blocked Evan McPherson’s extra point and sent the game into overtime.
The extra period gave both teams an opportunity to win the game. The Bengals got their chance first after a Steelers’ punt but with a high snap, McPherson missed another go-ahead kick. Steelers kicker Chris Boswell then from 55 yards out doinked the kick off the upright.
It seemed as if everything was against the kickers to make a winning kick in Paycor Stadium that day. However, after a Cincinnati punt and a deep connection from Trubisky to Freiermuth; Boswell’s final kick was true, and the Steelers came out with a late afternoon 23-20 victory.
The game was won but with a cost as the Steelers’ star linebacker, T.J. Watt suffered a pectoral injury. Pittsburgh running back Najee Harris also suffered an apparent foot injury. After multiple consolations, it was decided Watt did not need surgery and will be back in a minimum of six weeks. As for Harris, tests came back negative for any injury, and he has stated he will be ready for next week’s game.
The Steelers (1-0) open at home next week on Sunday against the New England Patriots (0-1).
Cincinnati (0-1) will travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys (0-1) next Sunday.
The two AFC North teams have their rematch scheduled for Sunday Night Football on November 20th in Pittsburgh.
—WEEK 1 AFC NORTH STANDINGS—