Updated: Nov 21, 2020
Ben Roethlisberger – The Bengals have been decimated with injuries at the cornerback position this season. They were already without cornerback LeShaun Sims and Mackenzie Alexander suffered a concussion in the first quarter that sidelined him for the rest of the game. Tony Brown, who played just one defensive snap this year was the starting cornerback opposite of William Jackson III. Roethlisberger took advantage of the Bengals’ vulnerable secondary and completed 17 of 27 passes (63%) for 243 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions, and had a quarterback rating of 116.7 in the first half. Roethlisberger threw his second touchdown pass of the game when he connected to Smith-Schuster for an 8-yard score in the back of the end zone to give the Steelers a 19-7 lead 7:23 left in the second quarter. Roethlisberger stepped up in the pocket and was facing pressure and managed to complete the pass to Smith-Schuster for the touchdown. Roethlisberger's vintage play showed that at even the age of 38, he can still make those types of plays that Steelers fans have continuously seen him make throughout his 17-year career. Roethlisberger continued to have a stellar play in the second half and finished the game completing 27 of 46 passes (58.7%) for 333 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions, and had a quarterback rating of 110.1. Roethlisberger now has a 22-4 touchdown-interception ratio this year. His career record for most touchdown passes in a season is 34 in 2018.
Diontae Johnson – The offense started slow and managed to get two field goals on their first four possessions of the game. Things opened up on their fifth drive when Roethlisberger completed a 46-yard pass to Johnson down the left sidelines, which was Johnson’s longest reception of his career. On the next play, Roethlisberger connected to James Washington for 16 yards. And the drive concluded with Roethlisberger completing to Johnson for a 12-yard touchdown to give the Steelers a 12-0 lead with 1:51 remaining in the first quarter. Roethlisberger’s pass to Chase Claypool fell incomplete on the two-point conversion attempt. It was a three-play, 74-yard scoring drive that took 1:01 off the clock. Johnson finished the game with six receptions for 116 yards (19.9 average) and a touchdown, all of which came in the first half.
Chase Claypool – Claypool had four receptions for 56 yards (14.0 average) and two touchdowns. Both of those touchdowns came in the red zone, which is exactly one of the reasons why the Steelers drafted him out of Notre Dame. With his 6-foot-4, 238-pound frame, he’s a nightmare for defensive backs to cover in the red zone. Claypool leads the team with seven touchdown receptions and also has two rushing touchdowns on the season. He leads all rookies in total touchdowns with nine. Claypool is certainly in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – Smith-Schuster had a team-high nine receptions for 77 yards (8.6 average) and a touchdown today. It was another solid performance by Smith-Schuster, who continues to build a rapport with Roethlisberger, especially when it comes to making those tough catches over the middle of the field. Much like what Hines Ward used to do in Pittsburgh. If Smith-Schuster continues the trend that he’s on, look for him to cash in this offseason with a huge contract. It might not be from the Steelers due to salary cap issues, but some team will definitely pay for Smith-Schuster’s playmaking abilities and toughness.
T.J. Watt – Watt continues to make his case for Defensive Player of the Year this season. Watt had four total tackles, two sacks, two tackles for a loss and four quarterback hits. Watt’s sack at the end of the half put the Bengals out of field goal range. Watt now has nine sacks on the season.
Cam Sutton – With the Steelers leading 12-0 at the end of the first quarter. Cam Sutton forced Tee Higgins to fumble after an 8-yard reception, and Steven Nelson recovered the loose ball at the Steelers’ 45-yard line. It's Sutton's third consecutive game where he has forced a fumble, the second in which ended up in a turnover. He had one against the Cowboys last week on CeeDee Lamb that was recovered by Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Joe Haden/pass defense – Haden had a nice game in coverage with three pass breakups, all three came on third down to force a punt. The pass defense overall was solid, allowing Burrow to pass for just 213 yards. Higgins had a good game with seven receptions for 115 yards (16.4 average) and a touchdown, but Tyler Boyd was held to six receptions for 41 yards. A.J. Green had no receptions and was targeted five times.
Third-down defense – The Steelers came into today’s game ranking 20th in third-down defense, allowing a conversion rate of 44.25 percent. They were dominant on third downs today, as the Bengals were 0 of 13 on third down. The last NFL team to hold a team to 0 of 13 or worse on third down was when New York Jets went 0 of 15 against the Arizona Cardinals on Dec. 2, 2012.
Ola Adenyi – After getting just one first down on their first possession of the game, Adenyi forced Alex Erickson to fumble on the punt return. Benny Snell Jr. came up with the recovery at the Bengals’ 32-yard line. The offense managed to get a field goal off the turnover.
Ray-Ray McCloud – Early in the fourth quarter, McCloud returned a punt 42 yards to the Bengals’ 12-yard line. Five plays later, Roethlisberger threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Claypool to extend the Steelers lead to 36-7 with 10:31 remaining in the game.
Jordan Berry – Berry had punts of 53, 58 and 62 yards in the game and averaged 49.3 yards per punt.
Chris Boswell – In windy conditions at Heinz Field, Boswell was 3 of 3 on field-goal attempts in the game from 41, 30 and 45 yards. Boswell also made all four of his extra-point attempts.
Running game – The running game struggled for the third consecutive game. Last week they rushed for just 46 yards against the Dallas Cowboys, who had the worst run defense in the league at the time, allowing 170.8 yards per game. The Bengals' run defense is not that much better. Coming into Week 10, they ranked 29th in run defense, allowing 144.2 yards rushing per game. James Conner rushed for just 36 yards on 13 carries, averaging 2.8 yards per carry. As a team, the Steelers rushed for 44 yards on 20 carries, an average of 2.2 yards per carry. Conner's longest run of the game went for 16 yards, so he gained just 20 yards on his other 12 carries. The run game's struggles are a combination of Conner just not making plays and the offensive line not creating holes for him to run through. Regardless, the Steelers need to improve running the ball moving forward, especially as the weather starts to get colder, and they face tougher defenses.