It had been 1,785 days since the Steelers failed to record a sack during a regular-season game. That streak, which reached an NFL-record 75 games, came to an end on Sunday, as Pittsburgh failed to sack Joe Burrow during the Bengals' 24-10 win that dropped the Steelers to 1-2.
The Steelers' inability to get to Burrow paid dividends for the second-year quarterback, who threw three touchdown passes that included two to rookie Ja'Marr Chase. The other score went to Pittsburgh native Tyler Boyd, as the Bengals never trailed while recording their first double-digit win over the Steelers since 1995. It was also Cincinnati's first win in Pittsburgh since 2015.
Pittsburgh's defense played without its best pass rusher, outside linebacker T.J. Watt. Watt has been sidelined since sustaining a groin injury during Pittsburgh's Week 2 loss to the Raiders. The Steelers were also without fellow outside linebacker Alex Highsmith, who is also dealing with a groin injury. Pittsburgh continues to play without defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt, who is currently on injured reserve. Tuitt racked up a career-high 11 sacks in 2020.
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The Steelers' sack streak started in a Week 9 loss to the Ravens during the 2016 season. Pittsburgh has led the NFL in sacks each of the last four years, as Watt led the NFL with 15 sacks in 2020. The Steelers' pass rush was unable to continue the streak on Sunday, however, as Burrow evaded several would-be sacks and turned them into positive gains.
While Pittsburgh's defense was unable to get to Burrow, Cincinnati's defense sacked Ben Roethlisberger four times while hitting him on numerous other occasions. The pressure clearly affected Roethlisberger, who threw two interceptions to Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson that led to two Bengals touchdowns. Roethlisberger has been sacked eight times through three games.
"If we had the answers, we'd do everything we could to fix it," Roethlisberger said after the game when asked about Pittsburgh's offensive struggles. "Right now, I think it's a lack of execution, for whatever reason."