The Steelers offense came out flat, went minus three in the turnover battle and the Steelers still managed to win by two touchdowns, helped in large part by a spate of overthrows by Carson Palmer, who finished with a godawful line of 17 for 44 with 183 yards.
The Bengals had ample opportunities to put the Steelers in a deep hole early on. After taking their opening drive for a score, the best the Bengals could muster with several short fields in the first quarter was a missed Shayne Graham field goal. From there, Hines Ward - now the Steelers all-time TD catch leader, four of which have come against Cincy this year- came up with a barrage of huge catches, even though Ben was hanging him out to dry with high throws all night.
The defense stood strong on the majority of the third and longs that they forced Cincinnati into. With little pressure being exerted on Carson Palmer, much of the secondary deserves credit for containing Ocho Cinco, T.J. Douchemandzadeh and skilled felon Chris Henry.
Of greatest note, and most encouraging, was the marked improvement in pass protection. For the exception of a sack for a safety that was negated by a defensive holding penalty, the line gave Roethlisberger plenty of time, which he used to overthrow open receivers and dangerously miss covered ones. I can't even get into Willie Parker's fumbleganza. Lose the sleeves or perhaps don't extend your arm out two in front of you on every carry. Something, please, Tiki Jr.
Certainly a more positive sign than the two previous weeks, the Steelers must play much more error-free football next Sunday if they hope to have a shot of beating New England. The Bengals had every chance to win convincingly and took none of them. For now, the Steelers can celebrate passing the win total of last year, jumping another critical game over second place Believeland and getting blockers to block, even if it is the Bungles.