Heading into the Bengals Week 10 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers, I didn't know what to expect. Yes, the Bengals were 6-2 and yes they had played well through the first eight games of the season, but no, they hadn't played a team like the Steelers yet. Part of me expected the Bengals to win based on how well they've played in the last five weeks and the other part of me expected what happened.
Either way, it's time to shrug off the loss and get prepared for their Week 11 game, which is just as important, against the Baltimore Ravens. But before we do that, here are the seven things that come to mind now that I've had a few hours to think about the Bengals Week 10 loss to the Steelers.
|Point 1: Without A.J. Green, the Bengals receiver aren't very good|
When A.J. Green left the game with an injured knee in the second half, there was such a huge difference in the Bengals ability to move the ball down the field through the air. The team's two most experienced receivers literally did almost nothing. Jerome Simpson didn't have a single catch and Andre Caldwell only had three for 25 yards. Without Green, Andy Dalton had nothing to work with.
Neither Simpson nor Caldwell, in my opinion, deserve to be re-signed after the 2011 season. In the one game that the Bengals needed them to step up in, especially after Green was injured, they did nothing but make mistakes and drop passes. I'm officially off the Simpson wagon and I think that the Bengals should use a fairly high draft pick, or look in free agency, to find the team's No. 2 receiver for 2012.
|Point 2: Even without Dunlap, the Bengals can rush the passer|
The Bengals managed to sack Ben Roethlisberger five times during Sunday's game even though they didn't have their best pass rusher, Carlos Dunlap. Don't get too excited quite yet because we have to remember that the Steelers have a bad offensive line and Roethlisberger has been one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the league. However, five sacks is nothing to take lightly.
The Bengals pass rush did quite a bit to keep the team's offense in the game and kept giving them chances to tie or take the lead. The defensive line is definitely the strength of the whole team, as has been the case throughout the year.
|Point 3: A.J. Green's TD catch was incredible|
If Andy Dalton asked me if he should throw a deep pass into the end zone into double coverage which included Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, I would so no. If he said the pass was being thrown to A.J. Green, I'd say, "Oh, okay. Go for it."
Actually I wouldn't suggest that very often but Green's catch over Polamalu, one of the league's best safeties, highlighted his freakish ability and showed that he has what it takes to be one of the best receivers in the league.
You can watch Green catch the pass over Polamalu here.
|Point 4: Andrew Hawkins is exciting to watch|
Andrew Hawkins, who was promoted to the team's active roster after Jordan Shipley was placed on Injured Reserve, is one of the more exciting players to watch on the team. He led the Bengals in receiving on Sunday with five receptions for 56 yards (which is sad... see No. 1), and you get a feeling that every time Hawkins touches the ball, he has the ability to take it all the way.
Hopefully Hawkins is used more often in the next few weeks because he could really help the Bengals offense move the ball against the tough defenses they face in the next few weeks.
|Point 5: Losing Leon Hall could be devastating|
Perhaps the biggest loss for the Bengals was losing Leon Hall for the season with a torn Achilles tendon. Hall is by far the team's best cover corner and without him the team in in trouble. Now, the damage done could be limited if Adam Jones is able to stay healthy and step into the starting role. He certainly has the talent to be a starting cornerback but we'll have to wait and see what he's capable of coming off an injury. Remember, he hasn't played corner in over a year.
If Jones can't step into the starting role, the Bengals will have to find a cornerback that is available in free agency (and they're free agents at this point for a reason) or promote Kelly Jennings or maybe Brandon Ghee, who is on the practice squad) to the starting job.
Either way, the secondary, which is the weakness of the defense, could be in a lot of trouble.
|Point 6: The Bengals' first two possessions doomed them|
The Steelers scored two touchdowns before the Bengals even managed a first down. That put the Bengals in a hole that they were unable to climb out of. Even though the Bengals matched our outplayed the Steelers after their first touchdown, they weren't able to get back on top.
Had they managed to score a touchdown, or maybe even a field goal or at least move the ball down the field in one of their two first drives, the outcome of the game could have been much different. Unfortunately that wasn't the case and hopefully they come out firing from the start of the game against the Ravens in Week 11 instead of getting too far behind to catch up.
|Extra Point: Time to move on|
Week 10 is over and we can move on from the loss to the Steelers. The Bengals play the Baltimore Ravens in Week 11 and if the team wants to keep any hopes of going to playoffs as the AFC North division winner, this is an important game for them to win.
We can sulk about the loss to the Steelers or we can get pumped up to watch the Bengals beat the Ravens on their own field.