1. This was a sad performance by the Bengals. Sad. Way sad. Pittsburgh was missing its top two running backs, its best defensive player, and its best offensive linemen. And yet, the Steelers dominated Cincinnati in the second half of a home game. Perhaps you could understand losing a game on a late field goal, but this was nothing of the sort. It was a butt whuppin. And sadly, Bengals fans have seen this before.
2. Rey Maualuga appeared to struggle mightily, often getting engulfed by Steelers blockers. As I discussed with a friend, Vontaze Burfict seems to be a better fit at middle backer if he can handle its responsibilities. He’s around the football much more frequently and plays with more fire than Rey.
3. Marvin Lewis’ second challenge was a risky move, but an understandable one. His first one, however, was all too typical of his coaching tenure. The challenge on a two-yard gain (Lewis likely was hoping for a fumble) cost Cincinnati a timeout that could have been used later in the game, and continues a troubling history with the red flag. He’d be better off delegating the challenge responsibility to someone else.
4. I can’t help but wonder if Marvin Jones would have made a difference in last night’s game. Ryan Whalen had several catches opposite A.J. Green, but none were game breakers. If Jones would have been on the field, he could have feasted on the single coverage the Steelers were employing.
5. Cincinnati’s injured players need to return quickly if there is any legitimate hope for the rest of the season. Pat Sims could help the run defense and the Bengals desperately need an infusion of speed in the secondary. Dre Kirkpatrick and Jason Allen, who’s been banged up most of the season, could stabilize the back end. On offense, Kyle Cook is still a few weeks away from returning, but he could provide a significant boost in both blocking and leadership. Cincinnati’s early schedule was considered the easy part, but if the team’s health detereriorates further, the second half could get ugly considering the present quality of play.
It’s back to what we do best Bengals fans, taking beatings and collecting ourselves for another Sunday. Fortunately, the bye week should improve the team’s health, but Peyton Manning and the Broncos are waiting on the other side of it.
That game will decide the season. Another loss there and it’s unrealistic to expect a playoff berth considering the competition that lies ahead.
Time to regroup – and find a way to be better on the other side.