With linebacker Ryan Shazier enduring a scary injury in the first five minutes of Monday night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals, it’s no surprise that the Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t seam particularly focused on playing football for much of the first half.
Pittsburgh fell into a 17-0 hole late in the second quarter before rallying to steal a 23-20 victory over the Bengals on a 38-yard Chris Boswell field goal as time expired.
The outcome of the game was secondary compared to the status of Shazier, who was taken to the hospital immediately following a hit on Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone. Shazier immediately grabbed for the middle of his back following the hit and was strapped to a backboard before leaving the stadium.
A Ben Roethlisberger interception was converted into a 35-yard field goal from Randy Bullock to give Cincinnati an early 3-0 lead. Andy Dalton twice connected with A.J. Green for touchdowns as the Bengals lead climbed to 17-0 with 31 seconds left in the first half. A pass interference call on the Bengals allowed Pittsburgh to get a 30-yard field goal from Boswell before halftime to close the deficit to 17-3.
Green caught seven passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
Le'Veon Bell took over in the second half as he finished with 182 total yards from scrimmage and a touchdown for the Steelers the trimmed the deficit to 17-10. After Bullock and Boswell traded field goals, Roethlisberger connected with Antonio Brown for a 6-yard touchdown with 3:51 remaining to knot the game at 20-20.
Brown finished with 101 yards and a touchdown for the Steelers.
After a Bengals three-and-out, Boswell’s field goal as time expired gave the Steelers the win to improve to 10-2 on the season.
The game was not the best advertisement for the safety of the NFL. Shazier’s injury was one of many in a brutally physical AFC North matchup. Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict was knocked out on an illegal block from JuJu Smith-Schuster. Steelers linebacker Tyler Matakevich left with a shoulder injury. Bengals cornerback Adam Jones injured his groin intercepting Roethlisberger in the first quarter.
Like Shazier, Burfict was carted off the field on a backboard as he was ruled out due to a head injury. However, he entered the locker room under his own power once the cart departed the field.
The Bengals also set a franchise record with 173 penalty yards assessed. They’d never allowed more than 134 penalty yards in a game, which came against Baltimore in 2013.