The marquee defensive players from each team left on a backboard when Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier collided with rookie wide receiver Josh Malone early in the first quarter and Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict exited with six minutes left when rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster gave him a cheap shot on a blind-side block and then stepped over him, straddled him, and picked up a taunting penalty as well as a roughing penalty.
With Burfict gone, the Bengals were down to three linebackers with middle man Kevin Minter not a good match for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s hottest offensive in the NFL.
Then the Steelers got a gift when cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick was called for his second pass interference penalty of the night when he seemed to simply defend wide receiver Martavis Bryant on a deep ball.
That, unbelievably, allowed Chris Boswell to kick a 30-yarder at the gun to cut Cincinnati ‘s lead to 17-3, marking the 19 th time in the last 23 game the Steelers have scored in the last two minutes of the half against the Bengals.
After Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier left the field taped to a board after a frightening collision, the Bengals lost cornerbacks Adam Jones (groin) and Darqueze Dennard (knee) and running back Joe Mixon (head/shoulder) during the course of the first half.
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