The Pittsburgh Steelers entered Week 13 with a commanding lead in the AFC North. Furthermore, Pittsburgh was in a tight competition with the New England Patriots for the top seed in the AFC. Pittsburgh had to win on Monday night to keep pace with New England, who defeated the Buffalo Bills 23-3. Pittsburgh again sneaked out a victory in the final seconds, defeating the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20. The Steelers completed a 17 point comeback, capping another game winning field goal from Chris Boswell as time expired. Pittsburgh’s slow start was concerning, but it made the comeback that much more uplifting.

The beginning of the game was as ugly as it could get. On the opening drive of the game, Ben Roethlisberger was intercepted by Adam Jones. On the ensuing drive, Ryan Shazier injured his back on one of the scariest football plays anyone can watch. Shazier’s legs were not moving and he was carted off the field. The rest of the first half was a disaster for Pittsburgh. The Steelers only had 88 yards of total offense before a burst to end the half with a field goal.

Steelers Struggle Early

On the other side of the ball, Pittsburgh gave up 223 yards of total offense in the first half to Cincinnati. It seemed as if the defense, weakened by the loss of their top defender, had no answer for the Bengals. Luckily, the second half was a much different story. Pittsburgh went on to outscore Cincinnati 20-3 in the second half to complete the comeback. The beginning of the game was disappointing, but credit should be extended to head coach Mike Tomlin. The second half adjustments surely payed off, and the result was another win.

Barely Getting By

It goes without saying that the slow opening to the game was disappointing and inexcusable. When in a race for home field advantage with the Patriots, you cannot lose division games. The lack of focus and execution to start the game cannot happen against New England. The Patriots are not the Cincinnati Bengals, they will not blow a 17 point lead in the second half. The offense showed they could move the football in the second half, why not start the game that way? Regardless, the Steelers got the job done, and improved to 10-2.

Win Comes With A Price

What will last is the effects of playing the Cincinnati Bengals in a typical Steelers-Bengals matchup. As scary as the Shazier play was, reports say he is moving and the worst is off the table. Still, Shazier has no timetable for return, as he shouldn’t when dealing with an injury that goes beyond football. The loss of Shazier will undoubtedly hurt the Steelers defense, as he has undoubtedly been their leader this season. Also missing next week will be JuJu Smith-Schuster, who will serve a one game suspension following his block on Vontaze Burfict.

Looking Ahead

Next week, the Steelers look to wrap up the AFC North as they are back home to host the Baltimore Ravens. This is another division game they should win. However, this is not a must win. The Steelers can lose to Baltimore and win out to still win the division and take the number one seed in the AFC. Still, Pittsburgh should bring all they have to lock up the division this week.

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