Steelers score vs. Bengals takeaway: Mitch Trubisky, Pittsburgh sink Cincy in OT for wild Week 1 win

Steelers score vs. Bengals takeaway: Mitch Trubisky, Pittsburgh sink Cincy in OT for wild Week 1 win

CINCINNATI — A wild game had a somewhat normal finish. After both teams missed game-winning field goal attempts, Steelers kicker Chris Boswell attempted a 53-yard attempt on the final play of overtime to lift Pittsburgh to a 23-20 victory at Cincinnati. Two big runs from Mitch Trubisky to Pat Freiermuth on Pittsburgh’s final possession gave Boswell the kick.

With the Bengals’ long snapper Clark Harris out injured, Cincinnati missed its game-winning field goal attempt in overtime. Pittsburgh, however, failed to make its game-winning attempt when Boswell’s 55-yard attempt hit the left crossbar 70 seconds after Evan McPherson missed a 29-yard attempt. McPherson, who lost Harris in regulation time, had his point-after-game winning attempt blocked by Minkah Fitzpatrick with two seconds left in regulation time to force overtime. Before the miss, the Bengals tied the score on Joe Burrow’s six-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Marr Chase.

The visiting Steelers, aided by four turnovers from the Bengals, took a 17-6 lead over defending champions AFC at halftime. Pittsburgh’s defense recorded three first-half interceptions off Burrow, including Fitzpatrick’s 31-yard pick in the opening minutes of the game. The Steelers extended their lead to 17-3 after Trubisky hit Najee Harris on a one-yard touchdown pass midway through the second quarter. The score was set by Burrow’s interception by TJ Watt, who prior to Sunday’s game had never thrown multiple interceptions in the first half.

The only score of the third quarter was Burrow’s two-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd which was followed by Burrow’s two-point completion to Mike Thomas. Although Burrow threw his fourth interception of the game six minutes into the fourth quarter, the Bengals’ deficit was only six points when Cincinnati took over on their own 30-yard line with 6:05 left. From there, the Bengals headed to the Steelers 2-yard line before Burrow’s fourth pass for Chase was broken up in the end zone by Cam Sutton. Cincinnati found the end zone on their next possession before Fitzpatrick’s blocked attempt forced overtime.

Here’s a full breakdown of what happened in Cincinnati:

Why the Steelers won

The Steelers’ opportunistic defense won the game. Pittsburgh’s offense did just enough to get the Steelers to the finish line. The Steelers enjoyed a stellar game from Fitzpatrick, which cemented his status as one of the NFL’s top defensive backs.

Why the Bengals lost

Five turnovers are almost impossible to overcome, especially when you don’t force any of them on our side. The Bengals were unable to deal with the ball in the first half and were unable to consistently protect Burrow, who spent much of the day on his back.


The Steelers were in control after Watt fired Burrow midway through the second quarter with Pittsburgh ahead 17-6. Burrow and Chase connected for a 24-yard gain on the next play to help set up the Bengals’ first score. The game was a slugfest from then on.

Game of the game

After missing his first attempt, Boswell made his second overtime field goal attempt. Boswell kicked off despite considerable wind blowing from left to right.

Big injuries to both teams

Pittsburgh and Cincinnati suffered notable injuries. Bengals wide Tee Higgins left the game for good after suffering a head injury in the second quarter. Higgins, who caught two passes for 27 yards before his injury, was initially doubtful of returning as he was assessed for a concussion.

Harris and Watt left the game in the fourth quarter. Watt suffered a pectoral injury, while Harris left the game with an injured foot.

Trubisky solid in Steelers debut

The former Bears quarterback didn’t light up the stat sheet in his Steelers debut. He went 21 of 38 for 194 yards with his touchdown pass to Harris. His two biggest regulation-time accomplishments were at tight ends Zach Gentry (32 yards) and Pat Freiermuth (31 yards). Trubisky threw well in overtime, completing a 25-yard pass to Diontae Johnson before Boswell’s field goal attempt failed. His 26 and 10 yard completions to Freiermuth moments later set up Boswell’s winning score.

Offensive lines struggle

Both offensive lines have struggled despite Pittsburgh and Cincinnati adding talent through free agency this offseason. The rebuilt Bengals line struggled to protect Burrow, who was sacked seven times by the Steelers defense. Three of those sacks were tallied by Steelers third-year outside linebacker Alex Highsmith.

Pittsburgh’s offensive line struggled to open holes for Harris, who finished the game with 23 yards on 10 carries. The Steelers’ leading running back was receiver Chase Claypool, who gained 36 yards on six carries.

And after

The Steelers begin the home portion of their schedule next Sunday against the Patriots. Pittsburgh last beat New England in Week 15 of the 2018 season, a 17-10 win at Heinz Field. Cincinnati will travel to Dallas to face the Cowboys in its first road game of the campaign. The Bengals have lost four straight to the Cowboys, including a 30-7 decision in December 2020. Cincinnati’s last win over Dallas came in 2004, when Carson Palmer beat the Bengals 26-3.

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