Bengals grades against the Pittsburgh Steelers

Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking down the Bengals grades against the Pittsburgh Steelers by position. Hint: it's not good.

Quarterback: Despite a few passes being off-target, Andy Dalton didn't turn the football over and he played as well as someone without a serviceable offensive line or reliable receivers could play. After completing only two of his first ten passes, Dalton would go on to complete 23 of his next 34 with two touchdowns. Dalton ended up going 25 for 44 with 230 yards passing and two scores.

Grade: B-

Running Back: Granted the Bengals were facing a 21-point deficit with over a minute remaining in the first quarter, but when the Bengals actually ran, it just wasn't there. Blocking is a huge reason and BenJarvus Green-Ellis is clearly dealing with lingering flu-like issues and only ran the ball four times. Giovani Bernard scored a touchdown, but only averaged 2.5 yards/rush.

Grade: C-

Wide Receivers: Not impressed. Most of what A.J. Green earned on Sunday was the result of curl routes. Perhaps a few of the throws were off-target but Green wasn't applying the description of being someone that makes difficult receptions. And he's even dropping some of the easier throws. Marvin Jones played well with five receptions, 48 yards receiving and a fourth quarter touchdown.

Grade: C-

Tight Ends: Maybe it's Jay Gruden. But I can't possibly be more disappointed in how the Bengals have applied their tight ends recently. Jermaine Gresham wasn't very effective against the Steelers, even losing a fumble during a long third down conversion that he fought honorably for. Tyler Eifert hasn't had the targets we had hoped for. Both combined for six receptions for 56 yards receiving and a touchdown. C'mon.

Grade: C

Offensive Line: So much for the love of the Bengals re-configured offensive line. It felt as if the pass protection were on ice skates and there were no holes developing in the running game.

Grade: D

Defensive Line: Embarrassing lack of a pass rush allowed Ben Roethlisberger to be an efficient 20 of 25 passing. Michael Johnson finished tied for second with seven tackles. Carlos Dunlap had three. Neither had a pressure. Wallace Gilberry broke a streak of nine straight quarters with a quarterback sack. However, the Bengals run defense was good, holding the Steelers to less than three yards per rush.

Grade: D+

Linebackers: Vontaze Burfict was reliable once again, leading the team with 12 tackles and making those impressive open-field stops that his teammates are unable to generate. James Harrison was out early with a concussion. Rey Maualuga had six stops but nothing else. Without Burfict, this group wasn't worth much.

Grade: C-

Secondary: Adam Jones recorded an interception to break a streak of four consecutive scoring possessions by the Steelers. He also added two tackles for a loss and a pass defensed. Reggie Nelson finished second on the team with seven tackles, including a tackle for loss and a hit on the quarterback. However, Dre Kirkpatrick struggled early in the game; though played better as the game went along. Chris Crocker struggled with tackling.

Grade: C

Special Teams: Kevin Huber's dropped snap led to a Steelers touchdown and Antonio Bryant added a 67-yard return to give the Steelers a 21-0 first quarter lead. Brandon Tate's kickoff returns pushed this grade above an F.

Grade: D-

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