After rushing for a first down on the first play, the Bengals forced the Steelers into a passing situation after forcing Pittsburgh into a third-and-long situation on their opening drive. Ben Roethlisberger had not attempted a single pass in the team's Week 16 game at home against the Bengals. On his first drop back, Roethlisberger was met by the Bengals' sack leader Geno Atkins and brought down for a loss, forcing the Steelers to punt.
Atkins, now with 11.5 sacks on the season, leads the Bengals and all defensive tackles in sacks this season. The Bengals came into the game leading the league in sacks with 43, one more than the Denver Broncos defense. The Steelers, on the other hand, 31 sacks this season, one of the reasons Roethlisberger has been injured.
Atkins, one of the best interior pass rushers of the season, beat rookie offensive guard David DeCastro cleanly on the sack, for what Behind The Steel Curtain calls a "welcome to the NFL moment."
If the Bengals win, they will lock up a playoff spot and the Steelers will be eliminated. If the Steelers win, both teams are still alive, but the Bengals would need a lot of help within the division to make it in.