The Pittsburgh Steelers face more of a “must not lose” game than a “must-win” on Sunday when they face the winless Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC North showdown.
How to Watch:
When: Sunday, Nov. 24
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
The Steelers (5-5) are still in the hunt for the second wild-card spot, but have been stewing since a 21-7 loss at Cleveland on Nov. 14. That game, though, will be remembered more for all the wrong reasons as Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph was hit on the head with his own helmet by Browns defensive end Myles Garrett in the final seconds.
That moment was the flashpoint of a game gone horribly wrong for Rudolph, who was intercepted four times and sacked four times—with two of those takedowns coming on the two plays before both the Steelers quarterback and Browns defensive end lost their cool.
Steelers All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey, who came to Rudolph’s defense and attacked Garrett by throwing punches and kicking him while on the ground, was suspended three games for his role.
Rudolph is expected to be fined for his actions in the dust-up, which included trying to rip Garrett’s helmet off first after the Browns defensive end dragged him to the ground well after Rudolph had thrown a shovel pass.
Pouncey’s absence puts B.J. Finney in the spotlight as his replacement. A fifth-year pro, Finney has made 10 starts in 53 career games with the Steelers, most recently at left guard in their Week 9 victory over Indianapolis.
As Rudolph endured his worst game since replacing injured starter Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh’s ground game continued to sputter. The Steelers finished with 58 yards on the ground and have totaled 190 in their last three games. Though James Conner returned in the loss to the Browns after a two-game absence with a shoulder injury, rookie Benny Snell may miss his fourth straight game since undergoing knee surgery.
The Bengals (0-10) earned the dubious distinction of being the first team officially eliminated from the playoff race and remained winless following a 17-10 defeat at Oakland last Sunday. The defense gave Ryan Finley a chance in the second half as they held the Raiders to three points after halftime, but the rookie quarterback had one fourth quarter drive end on downs in Oakland territory and the second cut short by an interception in Cincinnati’s half of the field.
Cincinnati has matched its worst start in franchise history—established by the 1993 team—and its 12 consecutive losses dating back to last season are a franchise worst. Finley has completed less than 50 percent of his passes in his two starts since first-year coach Zac Taylor opted for him over veteran Andy Dalton and thrown for 282 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.
The Steelers began turning around their season with a 27-3 victory over the Bengals in Week 4 for their first victory. Rudolph threw for 229 yards and a pair of touchdowns, with Conner and fellow running back Jaylen Samuels doing more damage as receivers than runners, combining for 16 catches and 140 yards.
Pittsburgh is looking to win its ninth straight game over Cincinnati, which would be its longest run in this divisional rivalry. The Steelers also reeled off eight consecutive victories over the Bengals from 1991-94.