Some huge special teams blunders and questionable officiating have helped the Steelers jump out to a 28-7 halftime lead.
The Bengals had a touchdown wiped off the board when an official called A.J. Green for a false start only after CB Ryan Clark pointed. The whistle was so late, TE Jermaine Gresham had caught the Andy Dalton pass and was celebrating in the end zone.
Then the Bengals were called for a delay of game on their successful field goal attempt. Backed up 5 more yards, Mike Nugents second attempt was blocked.
After a Steelers touchdown and a Bengals punt, Safety Chris Crocker was called on a 45-yard pass interference penalty after a both he and the receiver bumped into each other as they tried to turn around to get back to the well underthrown Ben Roethlisberger pass. Rashard Mendenhall would score after the penalty to put the Steelers up 14-0.
On the ensuing kick-off, return man Brandon Tate fumbled deep in Bengals territory. A few plays later Roethlisberger connected with Mike Wallace and a 21-0 Steelers advantage.
The Bengals finally hit pay dirt on the next drive, culminated in Andy Dalton’s 11-yard strike to A.J. Green. 21-7. The Bengals then quickly stopped Pittsburgh, forcing a punt with 1:58 left. The Bengals had 2 time-outs remaining and looked to get at least a field goal before intermission, but after 3 imcompletions, (and another penalty) they were forced to punt from their own end zone. Kevin Huber’s punt was fielded by Antonio Brown at the Steeler 40, and after an obvious block in the back was not called, Brown dashed 60 yards for the touchdown and a 28-7 lead to end the half.
The final play summed up the half for Cincinnati, as it showed both a special teams error and an obvious official mistake.
The Bengals are Steelers are pretty even on every category except two: The scoreboard and the penalty yardage. The Steelers have been penalized just twice for 10 yards. The Bengals have been flagged 6 times for 80 yards, which has taken 10 points off the board and added a touchdown for Pittsburgh.
The Bengals will get the ball first to start the second half, but they’ll need a huge change in fortunes to make it happen.