Well it wasn't pretty, but who cares. After all, we won and that's all that really matters. The Bengals took down the Steelers, which to this young squad is probably liken to conquering Mount Everest. The offense looked bad through most of the game, but the defense bailed them out time and time again.
It's hard to sit down and type right now due to the pure excitement about the big win on Sunday, so let's get to it.
Point One: Bengals defense was more responsible than Steelers offense
So that may sound like a confusing statement, but hear me out. Reporters and analysts around the country are going to blame the poor play of Ben Roethlisberger on his two interceptions and the offense in general more than they will credit the Bengals defense for outstanding play. Roethlisberger rarely had a clean pocket as Geno Atkins and company were constantly in his face. The secondary played well throughout the majority of the game as did the linebackers.
The Bengals defense deserves more credit than they'll get.
Point Two: Same goes for the Steelers defense
The Bengals offense struggled throughout the entire game, only managing to put six points on the board. How often do you think the Bengals can beat the Steelers without scoring an offensive touchdown? The answer is not often at all, only the second time in fact during the Lewis regime. The Steelers defense deserves a lot of credit. Not only did they completely shut down BenJarvus Green-Ellis and the running game, but they kept Andy Dalton off-balance throughout most of the game as well.
The only Bengals player they were unable to bottle up was A.J. Green, who had 10 catches for 116 yards; majority of it in the fourth quarter.
Point Three: Points off of turnovers were key
The Bengals picked off two Ben Roethlisberger passes and the Steelers picked off two Dalton passes. The Steelers were unable to turn either of those interceptions into points. In fact, the Steelers couldn't score a single point from any of Cincinnati's turnovers.
When you count the pick six, the Bengals turned both of the Steelers' turnovers into 10 points, which was obviously the difference in the game.
Point Four: Steelers returned the favor
You would be hard pressed to find a Bengals fan that agreed with the team's decisions to go for it on fourth-and-22 and then attempt a 56-yard field goal in the second half. However, we can say no harm, no foul. The Steelers were unable to take advantage of favorable field position on ensuing possessions and even attempted their own 53-yard field goal that came up short.
In the end, there were definitely questionable calls made, but the slate was wiped clean by the win.
Point Five: Is this the beginning of a new era?
The last time the Bengals did this, I was negative-one years old. They haven't been to the playoffs in consecutive years since the '81 and '82 seasons, which was also the last time they had consecutive winning seasons. The fact that they pulled it off against the team that all teams in the division measure themselves against was huge.
Is this the beginning of a new era of Bengals football? Is it possible for the Bengals to step up in the limelight of the AFC North and become the team to beat for the next few years?
Well it's definitely not impossible.
Point Six: Now we can talk about who we want to play
Now that the Bengals have locked their spot in the playoffs, it's safe to start to talk about who we want to see them play in the first round. Right now, it's looking like the Bengals will take a trip up to Foxborough to face the Patriots. Are you okay with that? Is there anybody else you would rather play (or is it more precise to say is there anybody else you would rather not play?)
Extra Point: Have a happy holiday
The Bengals gave us an early present. I have enjoyed talking shop with you, the Cincy Jungle reader, over the past few years and I hope you have too. Please have a very happy and safe holiday seasons.
Also, Who Dey!?!