Five Bengals Players That Needed To Step Up And How They Played

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 04: Brandon Tate #19 of the Cincinnati Bengals returns a punt against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on December 4, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Saturday afternoon we picked five players that needed to step up this weekend to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. Little did we know we should have written five players that should have kept Cincinnati competitive more than an hour after the game kicked off, but that's neither here nor there. Our list and the results of said prognostication went like this:

5. Bernard Scott

Original Point: For some reason when the team actually elects to put him in the game, running back Bernard Scott performs either on offense or special teams. He returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown that was the difference during Cincinnati's 18-12 win in 2009. And during their last meeting earlier this year, Scott posted a 5.43 yard/rush average on seven carries including two of the team's top three runs.

Result: Though Scott did average six yards rushing per carry, all 30 yards rushing he registered on Sunday came in the fourth quarter when the Bengals had already conceded defeat with Bruce Gradkowski in at quarterback.

4. Kevin Huber

Original Point: We figure Cincinnati's weekend romp against the Pittsburgh Steelers will at some point turn into a battle of field position. It's usually true in most NFL games but with two of the league's top-five defenses clashing on Sunday, it will be critical for Kevin Huber to unleash smashing punts to shift field position.

Result: Huber played well enough, dropping four punts inside the opponents 20-yard line with another three traveling over 50 yards. Unfortunately one of those was returned for a touchdown. Look at it this way. When Huber punted the football, Pittsburgh's best starting position (save for the returned touchdown) was their own 35-yard line.

3. Jerome Simpson

Original Point: With Pittsburgh likely to focus more on A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson will have an opportunity to step up in a critical division game. The last time Simpson played the Steelers, he failed to log a single reception during four passes he was targeted for.

Result: Jerome Simpson failed to log a single reception on three passes he was targeted. It's the second time he's been shutdown this year (both against the Steelers) and fifth game that he registered less than 20 yards receiving in a game. I do so solemnly swear not to choose Simpson for our weekly fantasy sleeper ever again.

2. Brandon Tate

Original Post: Since returning a punt 56 yards for a touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks, Tate has recorded just one return of 20 yards or more. And against the Cleveland Browns, he literally averaged -2.5 yards. Seriously. True. Coverage team needs to improve but Tate, who replaced a likeable Quan Cosby, has been a disappointment all season prompting the question, "what exactly has he brought to this team."

Result: Lost fumble that resulted in a Steelers touchdown and another great audition tape for Dancing With The Stars. Just watch as the coverage team closes in during his returns. Dude would win easily.

1. Secondary

Original Post: Cincinnati will face the league's eighth-ranked passing offense this weekend, though the defense only allowed 223 yards passing to the Steelers in week ten -- and that was during Hall's season-ending injury with Adam Jones already on the shelf. At the same time Clements had a decent game, only allowing three receptions for 27 yards receiving.

Result: Though Ben Roethlisberger posted a season-low 176 yards passing, it was the first game since October 23 that he didn't throw an interception and the first game since October 30 he registered multiple touchdowns.

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