The Martavis Bryant 94-yard touchdown was significant on two fronts.
1) It slammed a railroad-size nail into Cincinnati's coffin, giving the Steelers a 35-21 lead. While there was time for recovery, neither the offense nor the defense offered much inspiration to make it happen. You could have given Cincinnati a fifth quarter but that wouldn't have changed anything.
2) Boy, Leon Hall didn't do much of anything on the play... and that makes you think that Hall is either aging quickly or maybe his rehabilitated Achilles isn't as strong as believed.
The trust and confidence has been shaken. Well, in fairness, I speak from a fan's perspective -- not the team, coaches, nor players themselves. However, the Bengals aren't going to make many personnel changes after a vote of confidence from their rookie defensive coordinator.
"Our corners have been pretty damn good this year for the most part," said Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. "So I don't have a complaint on them. They didn't play real good [Sunday]. None of them played really good. ... But I don't think they've done anything in their play to merit getting pulled out of there."
Waiting behind veteran starters Leon Hall and Terence Newman are Darqueze Dennard and Dre Kirkpatrick, both of whom were selected in the first round of their respective draft (2014 for Dennard and 2012 for Kirkpatrick). That being said, Hall has struggled this season, allowing an opposing quarterback rating of 101.9. Terence Newman is the best among Cincinnati's cornerbacks but their safeties are the best.
When Hall plays the slot (292 snaps in that situation, which is over 200 snaps more than the second-most player), opposing quarterbacks have a rating of 96.8.
As noted by ESPN's Coley Harvey, Hall expressed concern about his play.
"Too up and and down for my liking," Hall said on an ESPN posting dated on Nov. 14. "Even if I don't have a bad game, there's just the film-study part of it where I look at it on my own, and it's not as technically sound as I would like it to be. So that, I'm not happy with."
Cornerbacks facing the passing game or the front-seven squaring up against the run, Cincinnati's defense was strong in the first three quarters and then... collapse.
"You give up the 94-yard pass, the long run on the short field, there you have it," said Guenther via Bengals.com. "You’re down 21. We have go do a better job finishing games regardless of the circumstance. Period. If we get down seven, if we get down 14, we have to go play and understand the situation"