The Pittsburgh Steelers never have blown a 20-point lead in the illustrious history of the franchise. (Then again, for the first 42 years of their existence, the Steelers didn’t build many 20-point leads to blow.) They almost did it on Monday night in Cincinnati.
An Antwaan Randle El rainbow to Mike Wallace pushed the score to 27-7 early in the fourth quarter. A quick five-play drive capped by a 27-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens (his second of the night) followed by an interception of Ben Roethlisberger and a four-play drive fueled by pass interference in the end zone against Terrell Owens cut the score to 27-21.
The Steelers responded by methodically driving into field goal range. And Jeff Reed, the team’s franchise player, missed a 46-yard field goal.
The Bengals then embarked on a 13-play drive that nearly delivered the most memorable outcome to the 81st meeting between the two teams. Along the way, No. 81 for the Bengals mad a stirring 20-yard reception at the Pittsburgh 17, absorbing a solid (and clean) body shot from safety Troy Polamalu, getting knocked down, and springing right back up.
The catch gave the Bengals a first down, but four plays later rookie receiver Jordan Shipley couldn’t hold onto a pass that would have given Cincinnati another first down, inside the Pittsburgh five.
For the game, Owens caught 10 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. In contrast, receiver Chad Ochocinco managed only one reception for 15 yards. At one point, Ochocinco was visibly upset after being overthrown by quarterback Carson Palmer.
It should make for an interesting episode of The T.Ocho Show on Tuesday night.