Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Live Score and statistics – December 21, 2020 Gametracker

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) After the Pittsburgh Steelers lost two in a row and looked bad to do so, their Monday night game with the Cincinnati Bengals in last place is suddenly more important than it ever was. appeared on the calendar a few weeks ago.
Thanks to its first 11 games of the season unbeaten, Pittsburgh (11-2) has already clinched its first place in the playoffs since 2017. But a win over the Bengals (2-10-1) – or a loss by Cleveland on Sunday – would secure the Steelers an AFC North title and at least one home playoff game at Heinz Field.

The Browns are two games back in the division and the Baltimore Ravens are three back with three games to go. Buffalo (10-3), who beat Pittsburgh last week, challenges the Steelers for second place in the AFC.

With a game against the Colts (9-4) and an end of the season with the Browns (9-4) in front, the Steelers suddenly in difficulty must take advantage of the toothless Bengals.

“There’s a lot of stuff on the table for us,” said Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin. “We are excited about prime-time football. We basically laid an egg last week on prime-time football, so we’re thrilled to have another chance at that. ”

Pittsburgh’s offensive and defensive lines were sometimes jostled by the Bills in the 26-15 loss last week. Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdowns but also had two interceptions, including a pick-6 that turned the tide at the end of the first period.

The Bengals are playing another disappointing season. They fumbled the ball on each of their first three possessions against the Dallas Cowboys last week to fall to a 17-0 first-half hole on their way to a 30-7 loss.

Cincinnati has lost five in a row. Three of them have come since rookie quarterback Joe Burrow was injured on Nov. 22, the most publicized of a multitude of injuries that plagued the team.

Quarterback Brandon Allen, who started the last three games, injured his knee against the Cowboys. He did not practice Thursday and is day to day. If he can’t go, Ryan Finley will start.

QUESTIONS OF CHARACTER

Safety Jessie Bates, one of the Bengals’ defense leaders, has said that the last three games of a lost season will be an opportunity to see the character of some of his teammates.

“Good opportunities to see who is on this team here and who is not. We are still playing. People still have to play well to stay. These are three great opportunities, ”he said. “In these difficult times, you really know who you can count on. ”

JUJU ON THIS LOGO

Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster drew Buffalo’s ire when he filmed himself dancing to the Bills midfielder logo last week. It’s a pre-game ritual that Smith-Schuster started earlier this year, calling it a way for him to connect with his 2.6 million followers on the TikTok social media app.

Even though Buffalo didn’t care, Smith-Schuster says he won’t change.

“I plan to keep doing (the dances),” Smith-Schuster said. “I’m just having fun, being myself.

Bengals safety Vonn Bell doesn’t care about the display.

“He’s still young,” Bell said of the 24-year-old receiver. But, you know, he loves the game, he loves to go out there and play. But it’s a little disrespectful at the end of the day. ”

EMPTY OPERATION

The Steelers have started the season with the kind of run-pass balance most teams envy. Not so much.

Pittsburgh went over 50 yards rushing just twice in its last seven games, allowing the defenses to focus more on stopping the Steelers short pass game.

It doesn’t matter who is there for the Steelers, whether it’s James Conner, Benny Snell, rookie Anthony McFarland Jr. or even Jaylen Samuels, who has seen almost as many touches against the Bills (seven) as he has had on. the combined season (nine).

BULLOCK KICKED OUT

After generally reliable kicker Randy Bullock missed his last three of five field goal attempts and a PAT, the Bengals decided it was time for a change.

Bullock was a healthy scratch last week against Dallas, with Austin Seibert – claimed waivers from the Browns in September – rising to the top spot. Seibert converted his only extra point attempt and didn’t play for a tryout last week, so coach Zac Taylor plans to join him again against the Steelers.

Will Graves, editor of AP Sports, contributed.

Follow Mitch Stacy on http://twitter.com/mitchstacy

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